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Jacopo del Sellaio, Orfeo, Eurídice y Aristeo 1480
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Albrecht Durer The death of Orpheus 1494
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Titian Orpheus and Eurydice c.1508
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Leu d. J., Hans Orpheus 1519
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Jacob Savery Orpheus charming the animals 1567
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Sebastian Vrancx Orpheus and the Beasts 1595
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Nicolas Poussin, Orphée et Eurydice 1648
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Giovanni Antonio Burrini, Orfeo y Eurídice 1697
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Pieter Paul Rubens Orfeo e Euridice 1635

Orpheus (Ancient Greek: Ὀρφεύς) was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. The major stories about him are centered on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music; his attempt to retrieve his wife, Eurydice, from the underworld; and his death at the hands of those who could not hear his divine music. As an archetype of the inspired singer, Orpheus is one of the most significant figures in the reception of classical mythology in Western culture, portrayed or alluded to in countless forms of art and popular culture including poetry, opera, and painting. For the Greeks, Orpheus was a founder and prophet of the so-called “Orphic” mysteries. He was credited with the composition of the Orphic Hymns, a collection of which survives. Shrines containing purported relics of Orpheus were regarded as oracles. Some ancient Greek sources note Orpheus’s Thracian origins.The earliest literary reference to Orpheus is a two-word fragment of the sixth-century BC lyric poet Ibycus: onomaklyton Orphēn (“Orpheus famous-of-name”). He is not mentioned in Homer or Hesiod. Most ancient sources accept his historical existence; Aristotle is an exception.
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Nicolas Poussin, Orphée et Eurydice 1648
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Gregorio Lazzarini  Orpheus and the bacchantes 1710
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Michel Martin Drolling – Orphée et Eurydice 1820
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Jean-Baptiste Corot Orphée ramenant Eurydice des enfers 1861
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Gustave Moreau Orphée1865.jpg
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Gustave Moreau, Orphée sur la tombe d’Eurydice 1890
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Emile Levy, La mort d’Orphée 1866
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George Frederick Watts Orpheus and Euridice 1870
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John Roddam Spencer Stanhope Orpheus 1878
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Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret, Orpheus lament 1876
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Franz Von Stuck, Orpheus 1891
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Auguste Rodin Orphée et Eurydice 1893
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Gaston Bussiere, La gloire (ou Orphée) 1881

Pindar calls Orpheus “the father of songs” and identifies him as a son of the Thracian king Oeagrus and the Muse Calliope: but as Karl Kerenyi observes, “in the popular mind he was more closely linked to the community of his disciples and adherents than with any particular race or family”.Greeks of the Classical age venerated Orpheus as the greatest of all poets and musicians: it was said that while Hermes had invented the lyre, Orpheus perfected it. Poets such as Simonides of Ceos said that Orpheus’ music and singing could charm the birds, fish and wild beasts, coax the trees and rocks into dance, and divert the course of rivers. He was one of the handful of Greek heroes to visit the Underworld and return; his music and song even had power over Hades.
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Jean Delville Orphée 1893
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Odilon Redon, La mort d’Orphée 1900
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Odilon Redon Orphée 1903
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John William Waterhouse Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus 1900
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Charles de Sousy Ricketts Orpheus and Eurydice 1922
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Marc Chagall Orpheus 1977

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tumblr_l3cjhuOdeA1qb0tnwo1_r1_500tumblr_m6icqaohos1ro2c2ro8_r1_400Orphhe wallI’ll give the secret of secrets. mirrors are the doors through which death comes and goes. look at yourself in a mirror all your life…and you’ll see death at work like bees in a hive of glass.

From Jean Cocteau’s “Orphée” 1950

 

Orpheus with his lute made trees

And the mountain tops that freeze

Bow themselves when he did sing:

To his music plants and flowers

Ever sprung; as sun and showers

There had made a lasting spring.

Every thing that heard him play,

Even the billows of the sea,

Hung their heads and then lay by.

In sweet music is such art,

Killing care and grief of heart

Fall asleep, or hearing, die.

 

William Shakespeare