Sunday, August 24, 2014

Orpheus

Jean-Baptiste-Camille_Corot_-_Orphée 
Orphée by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

Orpheus (or-FEE-us), from Greek mythology, has a sad but beautiful story. His name means "darkness," which is befitting for his tragic story, yet I see him as a role model. The legendary musician, poet and prophet was the founder of Orphism, a religious belief revering those who went to Hades and lived to tell the tale - Persephone was one such person. But Orpheus is most known for going into the underworld with the goal of returning his beloved wife to the land of the living. With his music he was able to convince Hades to let his wife, Eurydice, come back to the land of the living with him. Hades agreed as long as Orpheus led her out without looking back to see her - and Orpheus was able to do so until he reached the last part of their journey, Eurydice still partially in the underworld. Because she was not completely out of the underworld, Orpheus was not able to save her. Orpheus was also well known for being one of the Argonauts, and he helped saved the ship with Jason on it by playing music to combat the songs of the sirens trying to lure the crew to their death. The Classical Age Greeks knew him as the greatest of all poets, and it was said he could charm all living things with his music. A collection of Orphic Hymns (orphic is taken to mean "mystic") still exists, to which he is credited for creating.

Orpheus was used a handful of times throughout the years, never rising past obscurity, and today there could be a few hundred at most. Orfea is the Italian feminine variant, while Orfeo is masculine, both equally rare.

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