What wisdom does the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice hold?
Here is a brief snippet of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. This story picks up after Eurydice was taken to the underworld and Oprheus came to rescue her.
Orpheus played his lyre, melting even Hades’ cold heart. Hades told Orpheus that he could take Eurydice with him but under one condition; Eurydice would follow him while walking out to the light from the caves of the Underworld, but he should not look at her before coming out to the light because he would lose her forever and ever. If Orpheus was patient enough he would have Eurydice as a normal woman again by his side.
Orpheus was delighted; he thanked the gods and left to ascend to the world. Orpheus thought It was a simple task as he considered himself a patient man. He was trying to hear Eurydice’s steps, but he could not hear anything and he started believing that the gods had fooled him. Of course, Eurydice was behind him, but as a shadow, waiting to come to light to become a full woman again. Only a few feet away from the exit, Orpheus lost his faith and turned to see; Eurydice was behind him, but her shadow was whisked back among the dead. Eurydice was gone forever. ( From this article on Wikipedia)
The Philosophical Meaning of Orpheus and Eurydice
For most ancient myths, are just that myths, there exists no actual meaning or real life lessons to be gleaned from them. However, if viewed with the right set of eyes there can be profound depth inherent within them. The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is no different. While I can’t say for certain that the following is what should be taken from the tale, I can say that I find real world application for this as a truth.
How often do we love someone and want to be with them but can’t let go of the past hurt they have caused us? If we look at the underworld as pain, the symbolizing of looking back as an example of looking back on the past and the concept of being on the surface as seeing them with our highest thoughts of them, we have a clear metaphor for a truth. In order to have healthy relationships platonic or romantic, we have to let go of the things which have hurt us, that are buried underneath the weight of time. It is only till we are in the sunlight of our highest understanding of the person in that they are safe and not prone to rot. In my own life, I have made the mistake of looking back at the women I loved before reaching the surface of how I actually feel and having them rematerialize.
There is an underworld within all of us, it is dark, treacherous and full of all the pain and misery we have felt. We sometimes end up casting those we love into the depths of our painful experiences not because we mean to but because we are human. When we attempt to bring them back into our lives, often we rush, we want so badly for things to be back as they were, we peek at them, not trusting that they will rematerialize. It is this looking back, while still in the darkness of our own souls, that we see them “die” before us.
The lesson to be gained from Orpheus and Eurydice is that in order for some things to heal and to have the people we want in our lives, sometimes we have to heal without them, move past the negative emotions they have stirred within us, enter into the sunlight of self-love and respect, then look at them when we are whole, to see them as whole. When we can do this, we may even realize, it was actually them who was leading us out of our own underworld, not looking at us, until they were whole as well.
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