The Krewe of Orpheus derives its name from the mortal Orpheus, son of the god Apollo and the muse Calliope. The story of Orpheus illustrates the power of music in both this world and the next. Legend is that Apollo presented Orpheus with a lyre, which he played with perfection. The music of Orpheus was so beautiful that wild animals ceased their hunting, mountains bowed, seas stopped spraying and trees bent near to listen when he sang. His music was celebrated and cherished by all who heard it. His melodies inspired the noblest love. When Orpheus sang every heart was opened.
Orpheus accompanied Jason and the Argonauts on their adventures. During one voyage a storm arose, and Orpheus began to play his lyre. Immediately, the sea calmed and the storm ended. When his fellow sailors were bewitched by the enchanted song of the Sirens, Orpheus took up his lyre and began to sing. The Sirens’ song lost all its power, and the women were changed into rocks. However, Orpheus‘ greatest feat involved his beautiful wife, Eurydice.
Shortly after their marriage, Eurydice was pursued by Aristaeus, who was overwhelmed by her beauty. When fleeing his advances, Eurydice stepped on a snake, which bit her foot, and she died. Overcome with grief, Orpheus vowed to rescue her from the regions of the dead.
He gained entry to the Underworld by using his music to charm Charon, the ferryman and Cerberus, the three headed dog that guarded the gates of Hell. He passed through crowds of ghosts, and presented himself before Hades and Persephone. Orpheus strummed his lyre as he implored them to return Eurydice to the realm of the living. As he sang, the ghosts wept and the cheeks of the Furies became wet with tears. The yearning notes from ‘ lyre had kindled their memories of the sweet secrets of life’s pleasures. At last, Eurydice was called forth. Orpheus was permitted to take her away, on condition that he should not turn to look at her until they both reached the surface.