It is possible, but very improbable, that Orpheus was an historical personage; even in ancient times his existence was denied.
During his residence in Thrace he joined the expedition of the Argonauts, whose leader Jason had been informed by Chiron that only by the aid of Orpheus would they be able to pass by the Sirens unscathed.
Orpheus went down to the lower world and by his music softened the heart of Pluto and Persephone, who allowed Eurydice to return with him to earth.
According to Gruppe, the legend of the death of Orpheus is a late imitation of the Adonis-Osiris myth.
Without going so far as to assert that Orpheus is a hypostasis of Dionysus, there is no doubt that a close connexion existed between them from very early times.
Orpheus, in the manner of his death, was considered to personate the god Dionysus, and was thus the representative of the god torn to pieces every year, a ceremony enacted by the Bacchae in the earliest times with a human victim, afterwards with a bull to represent the bull-formed god.
It is possible that the floating of the head of Orpheus to Lesbos has reference to the fact that the island was the first home of lyric poetry, and may be symbolical of the route taken by the Aeolian emigrants from Thessaly on their way to their new home in Asia Minor.
The name of Orpheus is equally important in the religious history of Greece.
In later times Orphic theology engaged the attention of Greek philosophersEudemus the Peripatetic, Chrysippus the Stoic, and Proclus the Neoplatonist, but it was an especially favourite study of the grammarians of Alexandria, where it became so intermixed with Egyptian elements that Orpheus came to be looked upon as the founder of mysticism.
The so-called Orphic Poems, still extant, are of much later date, probably belonging to the 4th century A.D.; they consist of: (I) an Argonautica, glorifying the deeds of Orpheus on the " Argo," (2) a didactic poem on the magic powers of stones, called Lithica, (3) eighty-seven hymns on various divinities and personified forces of nature.
Of more modern writings on Orpheus and Orphism the following may be consulted.
Maass, Orpheus (1895); S.
Gerhard, Ober Orpheus and die Orphiker (1861); A.
On the representations of Orpheus in heathen and Christian art (in which he is finally transformed into the Good Shepherd with his sheep), see A.
A confused notice in Suidas mentions three persons of the name: the first, the inventor of the alphabet; the second, the son of Pandion, "according to some" the first prose writer, a little later than Orpheus, author of a history of the Foundation of Miletus and of Ionia generally, in four books; the third, the son of Archelaus, of later date, author of a history of Attica in fourteen books, and of some poems of an erotic character.
But when the legend became common property, other and better-known heroes were added to their number - Orpheus, Castor and Polydeuces (Pollux), Zetes and Calais, the winged sons of Boreas, Meleager, Theseus, Heracles.
Some (pseudo-Orpheus) supposed that the Argonauts had sailed up the river Tanais, passed into another river, and by it reached the North Sea, returning to the Mediterranean by the Pillars of Hercules.
Orpheus, Linus, Thamyris and Eumolpus were theirs, and in later days the Dardanii were noted for their love of music as well as for their uncleanliness.
The Orpheus (1790) was the special work of Kazinczy, and the Urania (1794) of 'Carman and of Pajor.
In addition to persons of high rank, poets, legendary and others (Linus, Orpheus, Homer, Aeschylus and Sophocles), legislators and physicians (Lycurgus, Hippocrates), the patrons of various trades or handicrafts (artists, cooks, bakers, potters), the heads of philosophical schools (Plato, Democritus, Epicurus) received the honours of a cult.
His next picture, exhibited in 1856, was "The Triumph of Music: Orpheus by the Power of his Art redeems his Wife from Hades."
In 1864 he exhibited "Dante in Exile" (the greatest of his Italian pictures), "Orpheus and Eurydice" and "Golden Hours."
Orpheus seems to be common to some of the Greater Antilles, and M.
Some hexameters with the title Cassii Orpheus are by Antonius Thylesius,an Italian of the 17th century.
The city has several other musical societies - the Apollo and Orpheus clubs (1881 and 1893), a Liederkranz (1886), and a United Singing Society (1896) being among the more prominent; and there are two schools of music - the Conservatory of Music and the College of Music.
He endeavoured to prove that early Greek philosophers had borrowed largely from certain parts of Scripture, and quoted from Linus, Orpheus, Musaeus and others, passages which strongly resemble the Mosaic writings.
The Lay of Orpheus is known to us only through an English imitation; the Lai du cor was composed by Robert Biket, an Anglo-Norman poet of the 12th century (Wulff, Lund, 1888).
In his private chapel he had busts of Orpheus, Abraham, Apollonius of Tyana and Jesus Christ.
When the Argonauts were passing by them, Orpheus sang so beautifully that no one had ears for the Sirens, who, since they were to live only until some one heard their song unmoved, flung themselves into the sea and were changed into sunken rocks (Apollodorus i.
Onomacritus, Zopyrus of Heraclea, Orpheus of Croton, and one whose name is corrupt (written EbrucoyxuXos).
The same scruple against flesh-eating is conveyed in the beautiful confession, in the Cretans of Euripides, of one who had been initiated in the mysteries of Orpheus and became a "Bacchos."
In the oldest usage BEoX6yoc were those who dealt in myths, like Hesiod and like the supposed Orpheus, the OeoX6yos par excellence.
As priest, Eumolpus purifies Heracles from the murder of the Centaurs; as musician, he instructs him (as well as Linus and Orpheus) in playing the lyre, and is the reputed inventor of vocal accompaniments to the flute.
For the most part I escaped wonderfully from these dangers, either by proceeding at once boldly and without deliberation to the goal, as is recommended to those who run the gauntlet, or by keeping my thoughts on high things, like Orpheus, who, "loudly singing the praises of the gods to his lyre, drowned the voices of the Sirens, and kept out of danger."
According to the best-known tradition, Orpheus was the son of Oeagrus, king of Thrace, and the muse Calliope.
ORPHEUS, in Greek legend, the chief representative of the art of song and playing on the lyre, and of great importance in the religious history of Greece.