Eurydice (/jʊəˈrɪdɪs/; Ancient Greek: Εὐρυδίκη 'wide justice') was a character in Greek mythology and the Auloniad wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music.

EtymologyEdit

 
Charles-François Lebœuf, Dying Eurydice (1822), marble

Several meanings for the name Eurydice have been proposed such as "true judgement"[1] or "profound judgement" from the Greek: eur dike.[2] Fulgentius, a mythographer of the late 5th to early 6th century AD, gave the latter etymological meaning.[2] Adriana Cavarero, in the book Relating Narratives: Storytelling and Selfhood, wrote that "the etymology of Eurydice seems rather to indicate, in the term eurus, a vastness of space or power, which, joining to dike [and thus deiknumi, to show], designates her as 'the one who judges with breadth' or, perhaps, 'she who shows herself amply'".[3]

In some accounts, she was instead called Agriope, which means "savage face".[4]

MythologyEdit

Marriage to Orpheus, death and afterlifeEdit

Eurydice was the Auloniad wife of musician Orpheus,[5][6][7] who loved her dearly; on their wedding day, he played joyful songs as his bride danced through the meadow. One day, Aristaeus saw and pursued Eurydice, who stepped on a viper, was bitten, and died instantly. Distraught, Orpheus played and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and deities wept and told him to travel to the Underworld to retrieve her, which he gladly did. After his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone, his singing so sweet that even the Erinyes wept, he was allowed to take her back to the world of the living. In another version, Orpheus played his lyre to put Cerberus, the guardian of Hades, to sleep, after which Eurydice was allowed to return with Orpheus to the world of the living. Either way, the condition was attached that he must walk in front of her and not look back until both had reached the upper world. Soon he began to doubt that she was there, suspecting that Hades had deceived him. Just as he reached the portals of Hades and daylight, he turned around to gaze on her face, and because Eurydice had not yet crossed the threshold, she vanished back into the Underworld. When Orpheus was later killed by the Maenads at the orders of Dionysus, his soul ended up in the Underworld where he was reunited with Eurydice.[8][7]

The story in this form belongs to the time of Virgil, who first introduces the name of Aristaeus and the tragic outcome.[9] Other ancient sources however, speak of Orpheus's visit to the underworld in a more negative light; according to Phaedrus in Plato's Symposium,[10] the infernal deities only "presented an apparition" of Eurydice to him. Plato's representation of Orpheus is that of a coward; instead of choosing to die in order to be with the one he loved, he mocked the deities by trying to go to Hades to get her back alive. Since his love was not "true"—meaning he was not willing to die for it—he was punished by the deities, first by giving him only the apparition of his former wife in the underworld and then by being killed by women.[10]

The story of Eurydice may be a late addition to the Orpheus myths. In particular, the name Eurudike ('she whose justice extends widely') recalls cult-titles attached to Persephone. The myth may have been derived from another Orpheus legend in which he travels to Tartarus and charms the goddess Hecate.[11][clarification needed]

The story of Eurydice has a number of strong universal cultural parallels, from the Japanese myth of Izanagi and Izanami, the Mayan myth of Itzamna and Ixchel, the Indian myth of Savitri and Satyavan, to the Akkadian/Sumerian myth of Inanna's descent to the underworld.[citation needed] The biblical story of Lot's wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back at the town she was fleeing, is "often compared to the story of Orpheus and his wife Eurydice."[12]

Cultural depictionsEdit

 
Statue of Eurydice at Schönbrunn Palace; note the snake biting her foot

The story of Orpheus and Eurydice has been depicted in a number of works by artists, including Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, Nicolas Poussin, and Corot.[13] More recently, the story has been depicted by Bracha Ettinger, whose series, Eurydice, was exhibited in the Pompidou Centre (Face à l'Histoire, 1996); the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (Kabinet, 1997), and The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp (Gorge(l), 2007). The story has inspired ample writings in the fields of ethics, aesthetics, art, and feminist theory. In the game Hades (2020), the aftermath of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice is told throughout a playthrough of the game.

Film and literatureEdit

  • ‘’Portrait of a Lady on Fire‘’ (2019) written and directed by Céline Sciamma uses the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as an allegory for the relationship depicted in the film, and proposes an alternate explanation for why Orpheus turned to look.

Operas and stage productionsEdit

The myth has been retold in operas by Jacopo Peri, Monteverdi, Charpentier, Gluck, Yevstigney Fomin, Harrison Birtwistle, and Matthew Aucoin.

Science and geographyEdit

Video gamesEdit

  • Hades is an indie rogue-like game developed by Supergiant Games, where Eurydice is a character who resides in Asphodel and is voiced by Francesca Hogan.[19][20] The player, Zagreus, is given the option of reuniting Eurydice and Orpheus after meeting them.[21][20] Just Lunning, for Inverse, commented that "Hades will immediately grab your eye with its stunning character designs, which are consistently unique and unconventional ways. [...] Every character is consciously trying their best to be beautiful. [...] Even mythical, inhuman characters like [...] Eurydice (an oak nymph) embody this vision of beauty. [...] Eurydice has an afro composed of tree branches".[22]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Stevens, John (1986). Words and Music in the Middle Ages: Song, Narrative, Dance and Drama, 1050-1350. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press. p. 397. ISBN 0-521-24507-9. OCLC 12724249.
  2. ^ a b Friedman, John Block (2000). Orpheus in the Middle Ages (1st ed.). Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press. p. 89. ISBN 0-8156-2825-0. OCLC 42690124. Fulgentius provided the first and most widely imitated etymological interpretation of the legend in his Mitologiae, a reference work which undertook to describe and explain the chief figures of Greco-Roman myth. He derived the name Orpheus from oraia phone, "that is, best voice," and Eurydice from eur dice, or "profound judgement." [...] By seeing in the names of his characters certain abstract qualities, Fulgentius was able to make Orpheus and Eurydice stand for those qualities.
  3. ^ Cavarero, Adriana (2014). Relating Narratives : Storytelling and Selfhood. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-317-83528-8. OCLC 871224431.
  4. ^ Graves, Robert (2017). The Greek Myths - The Complete and Definitive Edition. Penguin Books Limited. p. 115. ISBN 9780241983386.
  5. ^ Bane, Theresa (2013). Encyclopedia of fairies in world folklore and mythology. Jefferson, North Carolina. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-7864-7111-9. OCLC 844308768.
  6. ^ Papachristos, Maria (2019). "Anloniad". Muses - Nymphs - Other Gods. Edizioni R.E.I. France. ISBN 9782372973663. They are the particular type of nymphs, subgenus of Dryads and very similar to the Alseidae, which can be found in river valleys and mountain pastures, often in the company of the god Pan, the Lord of Nature. [...] Eurydice [...] is often indicated to be one of them.
  7. ^ a b Impelluso, Lucia (2002). Gods and heroes in art. Stefano Zuffi, Thomas Michael Hartmann. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-89236-702-4. OCLC 50447697.
  8. ^ Virgil, Georgica, 4.453ff
  9. ^ Lee, M. Owen. 1996. Virgil as Orpheus: A Study of the Georgics. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 9.
  10. ^ a b Symposium 179d-e.
  11. ^ Graves, Robert. 1955. "Orpheus." Ch. 28 in The Greek Myths 1. London: Penguin Books Ltd. p. 115.
  12. ^ Clark, Matthew. 2012. "The Judgment of Paris." Pp. 97–111 in Exploring Greek Myths. Chichester: Blackwell Publishing. p. 106.
  13. ^ Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Camille. 1861. "Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld" (painting). MFAH, Houston.
  14. ^ Rosand, Ellen. "Opera: III. Early opera, 1600–90." Grove Music Online, edited by L. Macy.
  15. ^ Whenham, John. 1986. Claudio Monteverdi, Orfeo. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28477-5. p. xi.
  16. ^ Tommasini, Anthony (February 3, 2020). "Review: Eurydice, a New Opera, Looks Back All Too Tamely". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  17. ^ Read, Bridget (2019-06-06). "The Liberating, Radical Politics of Hadestown". Vogue. Retrieved 2021-09-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Eurydice", p. 86).
  19. ^ "Hades: All Voice Actors From The Game & Who They Play". TheGamer. 2021-08-19. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  20. ^ a b "Hades: How to Reunite Orpheus & Eurydice". CBR. 2021-01-25. Retrieved 2021-09-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Dhanesha, Neel (2022-02-12). "Hades tells a love story through song and side quest". Vox. Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  22. ^ Lunning, Just. "2020's most beautiful video game makes diversity divine". Inverse. Retrieved 2021-09-11.

Additional sourcesEdit

Primary sourcesEdit

Secondary sourcesEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Hirsh, Jennie, and Isabelle D. Wallace, eds. 2011. Contemporary Art and Classical Myth. Farnham: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-6974-6.
  • Masing-Delic, Irene. 2011. "Replication or Recreation? The Eurydice Motif in Nabokov's Russian Oeuvre." Russian Literature 70(3):391–414.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Eurydice at Wikimedia Commons