Orpheus (from Ancient Greece)
By Alice Low
“When stern Hades heard Orpheus’s song, he began to weep.” There were nine goddesses called Muses. Born of Zeus and a Titan named Mnemosyne, each muse presided over a different art or science. Calliope, one of these sisters, was the inspiration of poets and musicians. She was the mother of Orpheus (a mortal because his father was one) and gave to her son a remarkable talent for music. Orpheus played his lyre so sweetly that he charmed all things on earth. Men and women forgot their cares when they gathered around him to listen. Wild beasts lay down as if they were tame, entranced by his soothing notes. Even rocks and trees followed him, and the rivers changed their directions to hear him play. Orpheus loved a young woman named Eurydice, and when they were married, they looked forward to many years of happiness together. But soon after, Eurydice stepped on a poisonous snake and died. Orpheus roamed the earth, singing sad melodies to try to overcome his grief. But it was no use. He longed for Eurydice so deeply that he decided to follow her to the underworld. He said to himself, “No mortal has ever been there before, but I must try to bring back my beloved Eurydice. I will charm Persephone and Hades with my music and win Eurydice’s release. He climbed into a cave and through a dark passage that led to the underworld. When he reached the river Styx1 (The river that flows around Hades nine times. It is the river across which Charon ferries the dead), he plucked his lyre and Charon2 (A god of the underworld. For a fee placed in the mouth of the dead at the time of burial, Charon would ferry the souls over the river Styx to Hades. Few passed Charon without proper burial, except Orpheus, who charmed him with his lyre), the ferryman, was so charmed that he rowed him across. Then he struck his lyre again, and Cereberus, the fierce three0headed dog who guarded the gates, heard the sweet music and lay still to let him...
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