ORPHEUS. Ancient Sources/References to Orpheus. Orpheus is not mentioned by the earliest Greek poets, Homer and Hesiod. The earliest literary reference to Orpheus is a two-word fragment of the sixth-century BCE lyric poet Ibycus: onomaklyton Orphēn ("Orpheus famous-of-name”)
Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.
Muse Calliope, Athenian red-figure pyxisC5th B.C., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
A kylix depicting the godApollo pouring a libation and holding an early version of the lyre (chelys) which was made from the shell of a tortoise. The bird may represent the crow which announced the marriage of the nymph Aigle-Korone, the daughter of King Phlegyas. Provenance: Delphi, 480-470 BCE, artist unknown. (Delphi Archaeological Museum).
Read here what happens to Orpheus Lyre after his death: Hyginus Astronomica 2.7
In a society without writing -- history, cultural knowledge and sacred stories were preserved in poetry.
People with the capacity for remembering and performing song –bards – were honored.
Poets often claimed divine inspiration, to explain their gift and its truthfulness.
Homer and Hesiod, whose works (?) are preserved, were heroes.
Orpheus, a mythic poet, was regarded as greater still.
Fresco of a bard with a lyre from Pylos. 13th cent. B.C.
5th cent. B.C.
Altes Museum Berlin
Orpheus’ lyre is usually replaced in later art with a violin, as in this painting.
Károly Ferenczy (1862–1917) . Orpheus
1894, oil on canvas
Height: 98.2 cm (38.7 in). Width: 117.5 cm (46.3 in).
Hungarian National Gallery
Question: How do ancient myths and art emphasize the importance of Orpheus’ lyre?
Many elements in Orpheus myth emphasize the great power of his song. For example, the Roman poet Ovid says the following at the beginning of Metamorphoses 11:
“The poet of Thrace, with songs like these, drew to himself the trees, the souls of wild beasts, and the stones that followed him.”
Orpheus surrounded by animals. Ancient Roman floor mosaic, from Palermo, now in the. Museo archeologico regionale di Palermo
theme in ancient art, especially floor mosiacs, such as this one and the one from Palermo on the previous slide.
Opheus’ Role in the Argonautic Expedition also illustrates the power of his song. Look, especially, at his role the story about the Sirens.
Roman mosaic: Odysseus and the Sirens (Bardo National Museum)
Poet as Orpheus with Two Sirens; Greek, made in Taras, Italy; 350-300 BCE; terracotta, pigment.
Getty Villa, Malibu CA
Question: Summarize the ways that ancient myths and art about Orpheus illustrate the importance and power of song and singers.
Here are some possible linguistics associations with Orpheus’ name:
Question: How do these associations relate to the myth of Orpheus?
Now read these three ancient versions of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice
Be sure to pay attention to how each version is similar and different.
Now for some artistic versions of the story:
Louis Ducis (1775-1847). Orphée Et Euridice. Oil on canvas 1825. 46.7 x 38.8 cm. (18.39" x 15.28"). Private collection
Charles Nanteuil 1792-1865: Eurydice mourante (Eurydice Dying). Musée de Picardie, Amiens.
Relief Sculpture, c. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples. (From L to R: Hermes, Eurydice, Orpheus)
H. W. Bissen, 1798-1868: Orpheus pleading with Pluto and Proserpina to restore Eurydice to him.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Orpheus Leading Eurydice. Camille Corot, 1861. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Orpheus and Eurydice. Painting from 1806 by C. G. Kratzenstein-Stub, 1793-1860. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.
Question: What do these artistic representations of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice add to your understanding of the myth?
Question: What does the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice suggest about ancient Greek attitudes towards love, death and song?
Numerous OPERAS about Oprheus, including:
"...Did Thracian shepherd by the grave
Of Orpheus hear a sweeter melody...“
Orpheus, it could have beenyou could have held me againYou said your songs had all goneAnd that the road back up was too longBut it was there for usIt was there for usI loved you all alongOrpheusThe part of me that diedWas ready to be rebornAnd you called of the houndsOf hell with your songsOrpheus, OrpheusI loved you all along, OrpheusOrpheus, It could have beenYou could have held me againBut you couldn’t waitSomewhere along the roadyou lost your faithOut of despair and believingI was goneYou gave up on my loveyou gave up on usBut it was there for us,It was there for usI loved you all alongOrpheus
Simon, Carly. “Orpheus.” Perf. Carly Simon. On “Hello Big Man” album. Warner Bros., 1983.
Available on the “Clouds in My Coffee 1965-1995” album. Artista, 1995. #8221879828.
Listen to it here:
Why has the Orpheus myth been so popular in modern media like opera, film and song?
Now read about the death of Orpheus:
The death of Orpheus at the hand of a Maenad. Red-figured amphora from Nola, Italy, 450-440 BCE Terracotta, height: 32 cm Inv. G 436 Louvre, Departement des Antiquites Grecques/Romaines, Paris, France
Orpheus is torn apart limb from limb by Maenads (female followers of Dionysus)
Sparagmos: ritual tearing apart of a sacrificial victim in the worship of Dionysus. (See especially the death of Pentheus in Euripides’ Bacchae)
Maenads attacking Pentheus (Roman wall painting from the House of the Vettii, Pompeii)
Furious Maenad,carrying a thyrsus and a leopard, with a snake rolled up over her head.Tondo of an Ancient Greek Attic white-ground kylix 490–480 BC from Vulci.Staatliche Antikensammlungen Munich Germany.
Orpheus and the Bacchantes
oil on canvas
What does Vergil say about Orpheus’ head after the singer is killed by the Maenads? How does this enhance Orpheus’ power as a singer? How does it increase the pathos of the story?
Gustave MoreauThracian Woman Carrying Orpheus’ Head
watercolor on paper
Orphism was a set of religious beliefs and practices associated with Orpheus and very popular in the ancient Greek world.
Read about Orphism here.
This belief system was founded founded upon sacred writings about the origin of gods and human beings. Look at some Orphic texts: Orphic Hymns
Some Orphic beliefs included:
Question: What aspects of the myth of Orpheus would have encouraged Orphic beliefs?
This fresco of Christ as Orpheus is in the Catacombs of Peter and Marcellus in Rome, and dates from the 4th century.
Read this link: http://www.religionfacts.com/jesus/image_gallery/4C_christ_as_orpheus.htm.
Now answer this question:
Why did early Christians associate Orpheus with Christ?
Here is a list of all the questions asked in this Powerpoint.