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Vector: “Orpheus and Eurydice” —> “Symposium”
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Vector: “Orpheus and Eurydice” —> “Symposium”

Before we had to read the tale of Orpheus, I remember Professor Whalen mentioning how this was only a version of the original myth. I have only read one other interpretation of the story, so reading this version really shined new light on my perspective of Orpheus.

In high school, I had to read Plato’s Symposium, which alludes to the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. Although they are both adaptations of the same myth, it was like I was staring at a coin: a single entity portrayed by two differing sides. In the version we had to read for our class, the story was told through a limited narrator who could merely observe and describe the events. In Symposium, Plato added more insight by analyzing the actions of all the characters as well as depicting Orpheus’ character as a coward and a fool. He states how Orpheus was ignorant and selfish by thinking he could barter with the Gods in Hades to revive Eurydice instead of dying to be reunited with her. Plato’s character, Phaedrus, discusses how the Gods were offended by Orpheus’ lack-luster attempt and tricked Orpheus by presenting him with just an apparition of his beloved, not her actual soul. For his foolishness, once he reached the mortal world, Orpheus was killed by a group of women.

Most of the time whenever you see different versions of a story, in the end, they still have a similar ending or universal moral lesson; however, this is not the case for these adaptations. Regardless of which one I prefer or do not prefer, overall I thought it was an interesting experience reading the two different interpretations of the author’s interpretation of a representation.

One Response

  1. zachwhalen
    … the Gods were offended by Orpheus’ lack-luster attempt and tricked Orpheus by presenting him with just an apparition of his beloved, not her actual soul …

    Which is fascinating because it could have been true in Ovid’s version as well, but there’s no way of knowing for sure whether the deal is valid — in any version — because Ovid must fail.

    I wonder, though, if there have been any reinterpretations where he does make it out successfully with Eurydice? Might be interesting to look for.

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