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Andrea Tobar Laurie Olson-Horswill Greek Mythology October 25th, 2012

A Common Feminine Trait Seen in a Masculine Entity: Orpheus Since my fascinating journey through Greek mythology has taken off this semester, one of the most obvious themes in these ancient times that we have encountered involves the role of the female, who is largely involved in portrayals of sexuality, destruction, and sometimes the ability to charm and control. This theme piqued my curiosities on whether or not there were any similarities to males in regards to this “charm and control” attribute. I feel this virtue could not be completely owned by the female community, and found it inspiring to learn more about how mythology works when it comes to a trait that is above and beyond simply just “captivating” when it comes to a male figure. I wanted to dig deeper into this idea of seeing how a masculine figure is portrayed when he has the charming power of a female, and I had a feeling it was going to look a lot less evil than a charming female as well. With this idea I have discovered the exciting myth of the human Orpheus, and accompanied by a beautiful artifact, a Roman mosaic of Orpheus surrounded by the beasts charmed by him to perfectly illustrate his talent. This former Argonaut was given a lyre by the artistic divinity, Apollo, and was given instruction by the Muses. “..he enchanted with its music not only the wild beasts, but the trees and rocks upon Olympus, so that they moved from their places to follow the sound of his golden harp” (Orpheus, Myth Index). He charms everyone and everything even more than I imagined when I first started this search. He was crucial as an Argonaut, as his lyre let the Argo glide

Tobar 2 down into the sea, free the other Argonauts from the spell of Lemnos, keep some rocks from crushing their ship, and lull a dragon who protected a golden fleece to sleep. His wife Eurydice was bitten by a snake and killed, and his heroic attempt to go to Hades to bring her back involved his amazing talent: “..instead of brute force, he employed singing and lyre-playing, talents in which he outshone all” (Buxton, 172). The poor souls of Hades even temporarily ceased to be tortured as his lyre played. He was successful in that Hades and Persephone granted him the opportunity to have his love back, as long as he did not look back at his wife until they were back above the ground, which he failed for his love for her overcame him, and she was lost forever. His charm and enchantment reached a new profound level after he was able to spellbind even the rulers of the Underworld, on top of the fact he could charm anyone, any animal, and any rock or tree. Orpheus is a shining example of the exact idea I had in mind as a male with an almost entirely female-owned charismatic side. After his life turned for the worse, and he became destined for sadness for the rest of his life, his grace was still abound. He denied the company of anyone, and a group called the Maenads attempted to kill him, but Orpheus' music was so beautiful that it charmed even inanimate objects, and the missiles refused to strike him (Hunter, Encyclopedia Mythica). His magic doesn’t end here, since after they tear him apart with their hands and send his head floating downriver, it docks on the island of Lesbos, still singing all the way till this point, where his songs lived on through others on this island who heard it (Buxton, 173). A specific occurrence in the life of Orpheus that closely compares his abilities to that of a female counterpart is his experience as an Argonaut. There existed a flowery

Tobar 3 island of Anthemoessa, inhabited by beautiful but deadly lady-bird creatures called Sirens, as I mentioned earlier. The Sirens are referred to as both goddesses and demons. Their powers are similar to Perseus’ powers, in that both can lure with their music. According to the scholars on New Zealand’s Theoi Greek Mythology, with Orpheus’ help the Argonauts passed by the Sirens unharmed , as he drowned out their bewitching songs with his own louder and more beautiful songs. This example also follows my previous expectation I stated earlier: a charming female counterpart, with charming music that can control one’s mind, is also evil. I understand where stories like this could originate from, I understand that women are beautiful creatures and more manipulative than men and therefore might be able to control the emotional atmosphere more. Although other gods (and goddesses for this matter) have similarities to this, such as controlling or evil characteristics, I was looking specifically for this man who could control with his charm, and without the nightmarish-figure so often connected to a woman. In my opinion, he couldn’t charm with sexuality without bad being involved. The Roman mosaic of Orpheus I spoke of earlier is a perfect picture in describing Orpheus and his niche. Him and his lyre are surrounded by 18 different wild animals, all with eyes on him. He looks happy and carefree, and in all the sources I have read about Orpheus, I have never came across a description of him otherwise. A lot of the animals aren’t only wide-eyed and gazing at him, but also have one paw, hoof, or claw raised to him. To me, this makes him more than a man with beautiful music, even without hearing a or reading a story about him. This makes him look as if he has put a spell on everything around him. This popular hero Orpheus I consider to be the exact idea I was searching for.

Tobar 4 He hypnotizes his audience, living or inanimate, with a beautiful sound, and dominates. Although his supremacy is in not involved in evil. It can keep evil away, including if the evil has the same powers as him. Even after his life went downhill, his musical charm went on, just in a different emotion, but with the same affect as it was carried on through Lesbos. Works Cited Atsma, Aaron. "Sirens." Theoi Project. Theoi Prject, n.d. Web. 25 Oct 2012. Buxton, Richard. The Complete World of Greek Mythology. U.S.: Thames & Hudson Inc., 2004. 172-173. Print.

Hunter, James. "Orpheus." Encyclopedia Mythica. MMIX Encyclopedia Mythica, 03 1997. Web. 25 Oct 2012. "Orpheus." Greek Mythology Index. Myth Index, n.d. Web. 25 Oct 2012.

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