The tragic story of Orpheus and Eurydice in Edith Hamilton’s book which is entitled as “Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” has become the basis of this article in comparing Aristotle’s definition regarding the tragic hero to the life of Orpheus as an ideal protagonist of his time.
First, Aristotle stated that a tragic hero must be a character of noble stature and has greatness. In fact, Orpheus’ title as the greatest mortal musician is already been considered as a part of his characteristics as an ideal tragic hero. Also, he is said to be the son of the god Apollo and the muse Calliope. Furthermore, his noble fame is the main reason why Eurydice, his wife, chose him to be her husband.
Second, even though he is considerably great, he also had shown that he is not perfect. Based on the ancient texts, Orpheus virtues were all received from his parents rather than on his personal excellence. His conduct, however, does not seem particularly wise, since he apparently accepts Eurydice only because he has been seduced by her sweet gestures.
Third, Orpheus’ downfall is partially her own fault, the result of free choice, not of accident or villainy or some overriding, malignant fate. It was said that his disobedience act rooted in his wife’s death. And according to Plato, Orpheus is unwilling to kill himself for his love, rather seeking to bring back to the living because of his lack of heroism and this is the reason why he leaves empty-handed afterwards.
Fourth, his sudden misfortune is not wholly deserved. It all started when he lost his wife because of the fault of a certain handsome and pleasant shepherd. And when his wife’s second death left him, he was unable to blame himself because of his undying love for his wife.
Lastly, Orpheus’ fall is not a pure loss because there is an increase in awareness, a gain in self-knowledge, and a discovery on her part as a tragic hero. His death became the principal reason of his new beginnings because his soul descended down to the Underworld where he was finally reunited with his wife, Eurydice.
And the main focal point of this article is that, Orpheus is consider as a perfect hero that may be a source of all the inspirational songs that an ideal tragic hero could ever share for the ones who need to learn the importance of love and obedience in their lives.
Hamilton, E., 1940. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. USA: The New American Library, Inc.