Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses

by

Ovid

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Orpheus Character Analysis

Orpheus is Eurydice’s husband. When Eurydice dies directly after the wedding from a snakebite, Orpheus follows her to Hades and negotiates with Pluto for her release. However, when the two are climbing out of Hades, Orpheus disregards Pluto’s instructions and looks behind him. As a result, Eurydice falls to her death and Orpheus returns to land alone. He sits down on a plateau and plays the lyre, singing many songs and telling many stories. After a time, a group of women from Thrace (whose advances he had rejected) notice him. They stone him to death and scatter his limbs. Orpheus then joins Eurydice in Hades.
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Orpheus Character Timeline in Metamorphoses

The timeline below shows where the character Orpheus appears in Metamorphoses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 10: Orpheus and Eurydice
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
...walking through a field when a serpent bites her ankle and poisons her to death. Orpheus, her husband, is overcome with grief and follows her to Hades. He finds the Lord... (full context)
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Moved by Orpheus’s speech, the Lord of Hades tells Orpheus he may lead Eurydice back to land, but... (full context)
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Orpheus is overcome with grief for the second time. He wants to cross the river into... (full context)
Book 10: Cyparissus
Metamorphosis Theme Icon
One day, Orpheus sits down on a high plateau and starts to play his lyre. Suddenly, trees of... (full context)
Book 10: Orpheus’ Song: Introduction
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Orpheus sits in the new grove of trees and tunes his lyre. He starts to play,... (full context)
Book 10: Orpheus’ Song: Ganymede
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Orpheus sings that Jupiter once fell in love with a young boy named Ganymede. Jove disguised... (full context)
Book 10: Orpheus’ Song: Hyacinthus
Gods and Humans Theme Icon
Orpheus then sings that Apollo once loved a young boy named Hyacinthus who lived in Sparta.... (full context)
Book 10: Orpheus’ Song: The Cerastae and Propoetides
Gods and Humans Theme Icon
Orpheus sings of the Cerastae and the Propoetides—two groups that everyone despises. The Cerastae were a... (full context)
Book 10: Orpheus’ Song: Pygmalion
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Orpheus sings of Pygmalion, a sculptor who noticed the Propoetides’ lascivious way of life. Tired of... (full context)
Book 10: Orpheus’ Song: Myrrha
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
Orpheus sings that Paphos gave birth to a son named Cinyras. Orpheus then warns of the... (full context)
Book 11: The Death of Orpheus
Love and Destruction Theme Icon
With his songs, Orpheus enchants the trees, animals, and rocks to follow him. Suddenly, a group of women from... (full context)
Humanity vs. Nature  Theme Icon
...fright. The women kill the farmers’ abandoned oxen and take their tools to finish killing Orpheus. The trees lose their leaves and the river swells with tears in mourning for Orpheus.... (full context)
Book 11: The Punishment of the Maenads
Gods and Humans Theme Icon
Bacchus is angry that the women killed Orpheus and decides to punish them. He twists tree roots around their bodies and embeds their... (full context)