Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Why Don't You Go to Hell? Eurydice v. Orpheus in Hades

Eurydice doesn't get to do much in many of the traditional tellings of the Greco-Roman myth, but in Sarah Ruhl's 2003 play Eurydice (Samuel French, 2008), she becomes the main character, Orpheus more incidental. I like this kind of approach -- something new and a little bit different.    

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot's Orphée et Eurydice (1861, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas). 

In the "old" versions, it's Don't Look Back -- akin to Lot's Wife and knocking over a salt shaker. Orpheus does look back, and back Eurydice must go into the Underworld. 

But in "The Lyre of Orpheus," Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have Orpheus suggest another option from inside Hades:

This lyre lark is for the birds, said Orpheus
It's enough to send you bats
Let's stay down here, Eurydice, dear
And we'll have a bunch of screaming brats . . .

(Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, Mute, 2004).  

Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein (Denmark, 1783-1816) Orfeus og Eurydike / Orpheus and Eurydice (1806, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen).

H.D.'s "Eurydice" (1916) also subverts traditional tellings of the myth. Here's a small snippet from Eurydice's point of view: 

before I am lost,
hell must open like a red rose
for the dead to pass. 

-- H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886-1961).

Today's Rune: Harvest.  


WAS said...

Ahh!! A literally perfect post.

Charles Gramlich said...

Eurydice sounds awfully close to paradise. :)

Erik Donald France said...

T'anks d'udes ~ cheers ~