Ancient mythologies are fascinating, ion how they are similar and yet so different from each other. One of Greek mythologies- Orephus-Euridice is a heady concoction of love, music, suffering and human weaknesses and hence is one of the recurring myths in many novels. “Ground beneath her feet” by Salman Rushdie and “Equal Music” by Vikram Seth are considered to be modern recasts of the myth.
But in the current book I am reading, “Diary of a Bad Year”, Coetzee adds another dimension to the myth and says it mainly highlights the solitariness of death. The myth doesn’t say that they are reunited after death. You die alone and meet your fate after death alone.
This is quite in contrast to Hindu mythology (as per which they will be reborn and reunited), Roman/ Christian mythology (as per which they will be reunited after death) and Egyptian mythology (as per which they would even take their worldly possessions after death and hence the same are kept in the pyramids).
“Orpheus, as per some myths, was the son of Apollo and as per some a Thracian prince but as per all myths he was a magnificent musician who could accomplish any feat through his musical lyre. He wooed Euridice through the power of his music and married her but soon after the wedding, Euridice died from a snake bite. Orpheus followed her to the underworld and through his music cajoled Hades, the king of Darkness to give Eurydice back to him. Hades acceded but upon one condition: that he would not look back at her as she followed him, until they had reached the upper world. But just when they were almost there, he turned to her. It was too soon; she was still in the cavern and in an instant she plummeted back to darkness and he could not go back.
He was forced to return to the earth alone, in utter desolation and sang melancholy songs. He swore he would never love another woman as a result of which, some Thracian women, after hearing his music, tore him limb from limb in a fit of jealousy.”