Orpheus was a musician, poet and prophet in Greek mythology. His parents were the king of Thrace Oeagrus and the muse Calliope. He was considered the best musician and poet of all, and he perfected the lyre. It was the god Apollo who taught Orpheus how to play the lyre when he was an adolescent. According to a source, his music had the ability to charm the animals and make the trees dance. It is also said that he took part in the Argonautic Expedition, playing the lyre on the way. If it weren’t for him, the Argonauts would never be able to avoid the beautiful songs of the Sirens.
The most famous story about Orpheus is that of him and his wife Eurydice. Eurydice was having a stroll, when a satyr tried to rape her. She tried to avoid him, but she fell into a nest of vipers and she was fatally bitten. Orpheus found his wife’s body and due to his grief, started singing the most mournful songs. The nymphs and the gods started weeping upon hearing Orpheus’ songs, and advised him to go to the Underworld and bring his wife back. Orpheus indeed followed their advice and met with the god of the Underworld Hades and his wife Persephone. He pleaded to let him take his wife back, and after singing to them, their hearts were softened so much that they agreed. However, they told him not to look back until they had reached the surface. They started walking towards the surface; when Orpheus reached the opening of the cave with his wife following, he looked back, anxious to see if Eurydice was behind him. As she had not yet reached the opening though, she disappeared back into the Underworld forever.
Orpheus, during the end of his life, worshipped no gods except the sun, whom he called Apollo. One day, he went to pay tribute to the sun near the oracle of Dionysus, where he was caught by the Maenads, and was killed for being an infidel to the god Dionysus.