In Greek mythology, Orpheus was the greatest of all mortal musicians and poets. He was the son of a mortal father and the muse Calliope, making him a demi-god, but while most demi-gods were renowned for their great strength or courage, Orpheus inherited preternatural musical abilities from his mother. He was a master of the lyre. Tales of Orpheus' feats often revolve around his ability to charm even the most ferocious beast with his entrancing musical gifts.
Orpheus features in several myths, including the story of Jason and the Argonauts. One of the most famous concerns the death of his wife Eurydice: after she died, he ventured into Hades (charming Cerberus with a soothing tune in order to gain access) and persuaded the god of the underworld to release her on the condition that he not turn and look back during his journey home. He was unable to resist doing so, and Eurydice was duly taken back unto the realm of the dead. Eurydice's fate could be compared to that of Lot's wife in Genesis 19:26.
The love story between Orpheus and Eurydice is unusually tender for classical mythology, and has provided the inspiration for numerous other works, notably Monteverdi's opera "l'Orfeo", Gluck's “Orfeo ed Euridice” and Offenbach's comic opera "Orpheus in the Underworld", all of which give the tale a happy ending.