The story of Orpheus  often finds a place on vases of the R.F. period, but is chiefly confined to two episodes, his playing the lyre among a group of Thracians (the men recognisable by their costume), and his pursuit by the Thracian women and subsequent death at their hands. In one scene his head after his death is made use of as an oracle. He is often present in under-world scenes, but not always in connection with the fetching back of Eurydike.

Orpheus  (or ´fe-us ).—A pre-Homeric poet, son of Œagrus and Calliope, lived in Thrace, and accompanied the Argonauts in their celebrated expedition. He played so skillfully on the lyre, which had been presented to him by Apollo, and which he had been taught to play by the Muses, that not only were wild beasts made tame, but even the rocks and trees moved from their places to follow him. He married the nymph Eurydice (ū-rid ´is-ē), who died from the bite of a snake. He followed her into the lower world, where his beautiful strains of music even suspended the punishment of the wicked. Pluto promised to yield back his wife to him on the condition that he did not look back until he arrived in the upper world again. At the very moment, however, of passing the fatal bounds, Orpheus glanced back to see if she were following him, and just beheld her snatched back into the infernal regions. His grief for the loss of Eurydice was such that he treated all the Thracian women with contempt, and they in revenge, during the Bacchanalian orgies, tore him to pieces.