Orpheus, the greatest musician of them all, falls in love with Eurydice. But on their wedding day, Eurydice is bitten by a snake and dies. (Shortest marriage world record?) Orpheus is miserable, so he travels to the Underworld to bring her back to life. His love (and his gorgeous music) convinces Hades and Persephone (king and queen of the Underworld) to let Eurydice go.
But there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. Eurydice must walk behind him as they ascend from the Underworld, and Orpheus is forbidden from looking back at her. They begin their climb. Just before they reach the exit, Orpheus is overcome with anxiety. He turns to look at Eurydice. She is instantly sent back to the Underworld forever. (You had one job, O.) Orpheus continues to play his music throughout Greece, alone.
Learn more about the myth
Novelist Neil Gaiman explores the intricacies of the Orpheus myth, the timeless story of art's place in trying to recover the dead.
BBC Sounds Podcast
Orpheus Through the Ages
Writer Kate Bernheimer presents a selection of her favorite Orpheus retellings, from ancient to modern times.
The New Yorker