Orpheus - the legendary musician and poet by: Sierra Navarro

Myth Summary:

Orpheus was a fantastic musician and poet. His music was powerful enough to calm dangerous animals and make even bloodless life (like rocks) follow him. Soon after Orpheus and Eurydice met they got married and Eurydice got bitten by a snake. Orpheus, overcome with grief and sadness, went into the underworld and played his lyre for Hades, the god of the underworld, and Persephone, the goddess of spring growth and queen of the underworld, and asked that Eurydice be sent back to Earth. Hades was so moved by the music that he agreed to let Eurydice return to Earth, but on one condition: Orpheus had to go ahead of her and lead her up to Earth without looking back. In the last moment, as Orpheus had left the underworld and Eurydice was just about to, he looked back at her and she disappeared without a trace and was never to return. Orpheus then spent the rest of his life wondering about aimlessly. Playing sad music on his lyre and singing sad lyrics. Until one day he was torn to pieces by deranged and drunken followers of Bacchus, who is the god of wine.

Hades and Cerberus

Poem Analysis:

Overall, this poem is about the power of Orpheus's music. In the poem it's stated that "Every thing that heard him play , / Even the billows of the sea, / Hung their heads and then lay by."(Shakespeare, n.d.). So with this information it can be inferred that when he played his music everything from the mountains to the sea, bloodless or not, were put at ease. Personification is used when he says that the sea and mountains "hang their heads"(Shakespeare, n.d.). The beauty of his music was able to heal distressed hearts and even "kill" some conflicts all together as can be seen in line eleven when it's said that "In sweet music is such art, / Killing care and grief of heart."(Shakespeare, n.d.). The poem doesn't seem to follow a particular rule ABC wise. Although every line but one have six words, the exception being line nine having seven words. However the tone is consistent throughout the whole poem. It's an heartfelt poem of love and heartbreak. The old sophisticated vocabulary and commas makes it feel more emotional. The arrangement of the words and the commas used added pauses in all the right places to make it seem more sad towards the end as he was grieving the death or Eurydice. The words lute, lasting, ever sprung, hearing, and billows help to bring the an old, heartfelt feeling to the poem. The poem is also very connected to nature and natural beings as many of the lines include something about the trees or mountains or some sort of spring shower. The poem written wise flows nicely, which goes along with the natural tone again, and has many words the rhyme. The ending however is abrupt and dramatic turning into a dark and empty tone which is noticed most when Shakespeare ends with the word "die'".

Modern Allusions:

1. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Harry has to use magic to put a giant, three-headed dog to sleep. In a similar scenario Orpheus tricked Hades three-headed dog, Cerberus, into eating drugged cakes and them put it to sleep by playing on his lyre.

2. In the book Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian Percy has to go into the underworld. "So his friend, Grover (a satyr), play(ed) his reed pipes to move rocks to reveal the entrance to the underworld"(Kalayjian, 2014). As Orpheus played his music for Hades and Persephone in the underworld.

3. Again in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to face challenges, like the chess game and the flying keys, as they pass through "the "underworld" of Hogwarts"(Kalayjian, 2014). Orpheus's challenge in the underworld was to lead Eurydice back up to Earth without looking back at her and was not able to "overcome the challenge"(Artkreta, 2016).

Harry, Ron, and Hermione

Connections and Understanding:

All of texts are connected by two things; music and fighting for a purpose. In the poem itself, the myth, and Harry Potter, music is used as a tool to get something. In the poem music was used to calm both living and bloodless beings. In the myth music was used to get Hades to agree to let Orpheus try and get Eurydice back. In Harry Potter music was used to get around the three headed dog. And in Percy Jackson, Percy's friend plays music to help him get into the underworld. As for fighting for a purpose in the myth Orpheus fought himself the entire walk back up to Earth. And Harry, Ron, and Hermione all fight against many different challenges as they descend farther under Hogwarts to get Harry to his battle with Voldemort. These similarities and connections help with understanding the different texts because it gives a different perspective in every scenario. Everywhere from wizards to musicians. So if you find one topic more interesting than another you may be able to read more on that and understand it better in the long run.


Artkreta, G. (2016). Greek Myths and Greek Mythology. Retrieved from Cerberus, the Gaurdian of Hades: http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/cerberus-guardian-of-hades/

Kalayjian, M. (2014, September 22). Prezi. Retrieved from Orpheus and Eurydice: Allusions: https://prezi.com/vicjnimbxvnx/orpheus-eurydice-allusions/

Marlow, A. N. (1954, October). Orpheus in Ancient Literature . Retrieved from J Stor: https://www.jstor.org/stable/730705?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

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