In Greek mythology Eurydice was a dryad, or tree nymph, who became the bride of Orpheus, a legendary hero known for his musical skills. While walking in the countryside one day soon after their wedding, Eurydice met Aristaeus, the son of the god Apollo * . Aristaeus tried to seize her. Eurydice fled but was bitten by a poisonous snake and died. Overcome with grief at his wife's death, Orpheus decided to go to the underworld and bring her back.

nymph minor goddess of nature, usually represented as young and beautiful

underworld land of the dead

Orpheus gained entrance to the underworld by charming its guardians with his singing and playing of the lyre. The beauty of his music persuaded Hades, the ruler of the underworld, to allow Eurydice to return to the world of the living, but Hades made one condition. Orpheus and Eurydice must not look back as they left his realm. The couple set out on the long, difficult journey back to earth. Toward the end of their trip, just as the darkness of the underworld gave way to the light of earth, Orpheus turned back to Eurydice to share his joy with her. But as he looked at her, Eurydice disappeared, returning to the underworld forever. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice appears in various poems, plays, and operas.

See also Greek Mythology ; Hades ; Orpheus ; Underworld .

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