In Greek mythology, there were various characters named Eurydice, or Eurydíkê.
The wife of Orpheus
Orpheus and Eurydice, Anselm Feuerbach, 1861
The more famous was a woman - or a nymph - named Eurydice who was the wife of Orpheus. While fleeing from Aristaeus, she was bitten by a serpent and died. Distraught, Orpheus played such sad songs and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept and gave him advice. Orpheus went down to the lower world and by his music softened the heart of Hades and Persephone (the only person to ever do so), who allowed Eurydice to return with him to earth. But the condition was attached that he should walk in front of her and not look back until he had reached the upper world. In his anxiety he broke his promise, and Eurydice vanished again from his sight. The story in this form belongs to the time of Virgil, who first introduces the name of Aristaeus. Other ancient writers, however, speak of Orpheus' visit to the underworld; according to Plato, the infernal gods only "presented an apparition" of Eurydice to him.
Connections with Other Mythologies
The story of Eurydice and Orpheus has strong similarities with the Japanese myth of Izanami and Izanagi and the Maya myth of Ix Chel and Itzamna. There may be connections going back to Paleolithic times. The other myths seem to be more violent and horrifying than the Greek version. This may be due at least in part to Virgil and the other classical writers softening down the story, which in its older versions (now lost) may have also been very violent.
Eurydice (also Erudice or Euridice) is an opera written in Florence by Jacopo Peri and Ottavis Rinnuccini in 1600. It was created for the marriage of Henry IV and Maria de Medici. This is considered by some to be the second work of modern opera, and the first such musical drama to survive to the present day. (The first, Dafne, was written by the same authors in 1597.)
For many of the other stage and screen reinterpretations of the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, see the article on Orpheus. Eurydice is also a play which retells the myth of Orpheus from Eurydice's point of view.
Euridice B.A. 2037, Nikos Nikolaidis
Rodin Orpheus and Eurydice (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1893)
Wife of Creon
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