THE DIVINE MUSICIAN
ORTH-WEST of the Ægean, where the cliffs of Pelion rise
sheer out of the sea, dwelt long ago Cheiron, the
centaur, the wisest of living things, half man, half
horse. Many brothers had he, who in form were like
himself, but their hearts within were hard and wild,
and because of their untamed passions and their cruelty
and lust they were hated alike by gods and men. But
Cheiron was gentle and mild. He knew all manner of
strange things; he could prophesy, and play upon the
lyre, and cure men of their hurts by means of healing
herbs. He was brave withal, and had been in many a
bloody fight, and knew the arts of war full as well as
the arts of peace. Wherefore the old Hellenes called
him Cheiron, the Better One, and sent up their sons to
live with him that they might be taught all the things
which man should know. In a hollow cave on the
mountain-side he had his home. Far up above him the
snow-capped peaks of Pelion kept watch over the
nestling townships of the plain, and far, far below the
 the Ægean washed without ceasing on the rocks of
that pitiless coast, now soft and soothing as the song
a mother sings to her child, now loud and boisterous
beneath the lash of the storm-wind, when the seabirds
fly screaming to the shelter of the shore. All around
were dark forests of chestnut, pine and oak, where many
a fierce beast had his lair. In the branches of the
trees the wild birds built their nests and filled the
dark glades with song. About the mouth of the cave the
ground was trampled hard beneath the tread of many
feet, and paths led this way and that, some into the
heart of the forests, others down the steep cliff to
Every morning at sunrise a troop of boys and youths
would come forth from the cave, and, dividing into
groups, would go their several ways to fish or to hunt,
or to follow the course of some stream to its unknown
source in the mountains. Sometimes Cheiron himself
would go with them, if he thought they had need of his
help; but more often he left them to their own devices,
to follow each one his own bent as Nature prompted him.
In the evening they would come home and tell him of
their doings in the day; and he would praise or blame
them, according as they had done well or ill, and show
them how they might do better another time. Then they
would go to their couches of dried moss and leaves, and
sleep the deep sleep of youth and health, while the
cool night breeze blew in upon their faces from the
mouth of the cave, and put fresh life and strength into
their tired limbs. In the winter-time, when the night
was longer than the day, and the snow lay deep upon the
hills, they would light a great fire in front of the
cave with logs they had stored in the
 summer months, and Cheiron would take his lyre and sing
to them of all things in heaven and earth, while they
lay round about and listened. The songs which he sang
to them then they never forgot, because Cheiron was
wise, and spoke to their souls in his singing. So they
laid up his songs in their hearts; and many a long year
after, when they were grown men far away, and some
danger or difficulty stood in their path, the drift of
his teaching would come back to them in the words of a
song, and their hearts would grow brave and strong once
more to act worthily of their boyhood's sunny days on
Pelion. Many a hero whose name still lives among man
had been trained by Cheiron in his youth—Peleus,
who married a goddess, and Achilles his son, the
swiftest and bravest of mortal men; and Jason, the
leader of the Argonauts; and Asklepios, the mighty
healer; and, not least among them, Orpheus, the
greatest of Greek musicians and mystics, whose tale I
will tell you now.
One day, as the shades of evening were beginning to
fall, Cheiron stood before the mouth of the cave
waiting for the lads to come home. Sooner than he
expected he saw one of them far away coming down a path
from the mountains, and he marvelled that he should
return so soon and alone. As he came nearer Cheiron
saw that he walked with his eyes upon the ground, deep
in thought. Every now and again he stopped and looked
round upon the peaceful hillsides stretching calm and
smiling in the golden glow of the evening; and when he
had gazed for a moment he sighed, as though he would
breath into his soul the beauty he saw around him, and
then went on his way once more with his eyes on the
 So he walked till he came close to the cave and saw
Cheiron standing in the entrance. Then he ran up to
him and put his hand upon his shoulder.
"My father," he cried, "look round upon the hills, hast
thou ever seen them so fair as they have been this
Cheiron smiled at his words.
"Orpheus," he said, "the fair face of the earth changes
but little. In the soul of man it lies to look upon
her and see her beauty or to be blind."
"Till this day I have been blind, Cheiron," he said.
"And who has lifted the veil from thine eyes, my son?"
asked his master.
"I know not," he said. "But this morning, while yet it
was dark, there came to me a strange unrest and a
longing to be alone. So I crept forth from the cave
whilst you were all sleeping, and climbed up the
mountain-side—up, up, in the grey light before
dawn, till I came to the place where the white snow
lies like a cloak about the shaggy shoulders of Pelion.
There I left the track of my footsteps where no feet
but mine had trod, and climbed up upon a boulder and
looked out across the sea. And I saw the great sun
rise out of the east. As I looked it seemed that I
beheld the face of God; and as snow and sea and the
forests awoke to life in the light of His glory, my
soul awoke within me. All the day long I wandered
about the forests and hills; and I saw the beauty of
the trees and the grass, and the grace of the wild deer
as he bounded over the rocks, as I had never seen it
before. The wonder of this day lies like a burden on
my heart that I fain would ease, yet I have no words to
tell of it."
 Then Cheiron took up the lyre which was lying by his
side and passed his fingers gently over the strings.
"Orpheus," he said, "many a long year ago, when thou
wast a little lad, thy mother Calliope brought thee to
me. And she put thy hand in my hand, and said:
'Cheiron, make a man of my son. Make him brave and
fearless and strong, a worthy companion of the noble
lads thou hast around thee. When the right time comes
I will breathe my spirit upon him, and he shall be
great, as few in this world are great.' This day she
has kept her word, Orpheus. She has breathed her
spirit upon thee, and has opened the eyes of thy soul
and made them see."
"Who is my mother Calliope?" asked the lad.
"She is the Fair-voiced One who speaks through the lips
of mortals by music and song, Orpheus. With her
sisters, she dwells for ever by the sunlit streams of
Helicon, where they follow in the footsteps of Apollo,
their lord, across the green lawns and the flowery
meadows. All knowledge, all music of sound and of
words, comes to men by their gift—those nine
great sisters, the Muses. Happy art thou to be her
son. Take now this lyre from mine hand. Ease the
burden of thy soul in song, and learn how great is the
gift she has given thee."
So Orpheus took the lyre from his master, and struck
the chords, as all the lads who dwelt with Cheiron knew
full well how to do. But instead of the old songs that
he had learnt from his childhood, a new song came to
his lips, and he sang as he had never sung before. Far
away upon the hillsides his companions heard his voice,
 and they stopped upon their homeward way to listen, as
the evening breeze bore the sound to their ears. When
they knew that the voice came from home, they hastened
on and drew silently near, that no sound might disturb
the singer, and throwing themselves upon the ground at
his feet, forgot their weariness and hunger as they
listened. On and on he sang, forgetful of all else but
his song, till the red glow of the evening died away in
the west and the stars shone pale in the twilight.
There was a strange magic about his music which drew
all living things to his feet, as a magnet draws the
cold heart of steel. From the woods and forests they
came, and from the bare hillsides—the lion, the
leopard and the trembling fawn. The snake came forth
from his hiding-place, the rabbit from his hole, and
the wild birds wheeled about his head and settled on
the brow of the cave. The very trees seemed to hear
him, as they swayed their heads to and fro to the
rhythm of his song. As he looked round upon his
comrades whilst he sang, his heart grew strong within
him, for he felt that a strange new power had been born
in his soul, which could bow the heads of men beneath
his will as the wind bows the rushes by the stream. So
he sang on as the twilight deepened into night, and all
the stars of heaven came forth to listen, till at
length his song died upon his lips, like a breeze
lulled to rest at sunset. For a moment the creatures
lay spellbound around him; then one by one they crept
back to their homes, with their fears and their hatreds
tamed for a while by the magic of his singing. And his
companions crowded round him with words of praise and
 "Who taught thee thy magic song, Orpheus?" they cried.
"The sunrise and the snow," he answered, "and the
teaching of Cheiron, and my happy days with you, and
the spirit of my mother Calliope—all these have
taught me my song."
But his answer was a dark saying to them, and not one
of them understood it, save Cheiron. He knew that it
is the commonest things in life that are the material
of all that is beautiful and fair, just as a temple may
be built of common stone; but that the children of the
Muses are few, who can by music and art open the blind
hearts of men to see.
Thus did the gift of song fall upon Orpheus, so that he
became the greatest of all singers upon the earth. All
day long he would wander about the woods and the hill,
and tame the heart of every living thing with the magic
of his voice.
One day it chanced that he came into the wood where he
had never been before, and he followed a grass-grown
track which led to the mouth of a cave. On one side of
the cave stood a tall beech-tree, whose moss-covered
roots offered a tempting seat, and close by a clear
stream gushed forth from the rocks. He drank eagerly
of the water, for he had wandered far and was thirsty;
and when he had quenched his thirst, he sat down on the
roots of the beech-tree and began his song. As before,
the wild things gathered about him, and crouched at his
feet, tame and silent, as he sang; and from the shadow
of the cave crept a wood-nymph, and lay upon the grass,
with her chin between her hands, looking up into his
face. For a time he did not see her, so silently had
 but at last the power of her eyes drew his eyes upon
her, and he turned his head and looked at her. When he
saw her, his arm fell useless by his side and his voice
died away in his throat, for he had never looked upon
anyone so fair. Her hair was black as the
storm-cloud, but her eyes were blue as the summer sky,
and she lay like a white flower in the grass at his
feet. For a long moment he gazed into her face without
speaking, as she gazed back at him, and at last he
FROM THE SHADOW OF THE CAVE CREPT A WOOD-NYMPH, AND LAY UPON THE GRASS.
"Who art thou, maiden?" he asked.
"I am Eurydice," she answered.
"Thy hair is black as midnight, Eurydice," he said,
"and thine eyes are bright as the noonday."
"Are not midnight and noonday fair to thine eyes?" she
"They are fair indeed, but thou art fairer."
"Then I am well content," she said.
"I know not thy name nor thy face, Eurydice," said he,
"but my heart beats with thy heart as though we were
"When two hearts beat together, Orpheus, they are
strangers no more, whether they have known each other
all their days or have met as thou and I have met.
Long ago the fame of thee, and of thy singing, reached
mine ears, but I hardened my heart against thee, and
said, 'It is an idle rumour, and he is no better than
other men, before whose face I flee.' But now the gods
have brought thy steps to the hollow cave where I
dwell, and thou, by thy magic, has drawn me to thy
feet, so that I, who doubted thy power, must follow
thee whithersoever thou wilt."
 "Shall I sing the a song, Eurydice—the song thou
hast sown in my heart?"
"Yes, sing me that song," she answered.
So he struck the chords of his lyre and sang her the
song that was born of her beauty. One by one the wild
creatures stole back to the forest, for that song was
not for them, and they two were left alone beneath the
spreading boughs of the beech-tree. As he sang,
Eurydice crept closer to him, till her head rested on
his knee and her long black hair fell in a cloud about
his feet. As she drew nearer his voice grew lower,
till it became a whisper in her ear. Then he laid his
lyre on the ground beside him and put his arms about
her, and their hearts spoke to each other in the tongue
that knows not sound nor words.
So it came to pass that Orpheus returned no more to
dwell with Cheiron and his companions in the hollow
cave below Pelion, but lived with Eurydice, his wife,
in her cave in the heart of the forest. But he never
forgot his boyhood's happy days, nor all that Cheiron
had done for him. He would come often to see him and
take counsel with him, and sing to the lads his magic
song. For a few short years he lived a life the gods
might envy, till the dark days came, when not even
music could bring comfort to his heart. For one day,
as he roamed with Eurydice through the dark forest, it
chanced that she unwittingly trod upon a snake, and the
creature turned upon her and pierced her white foot
with its venomous fang. Like liquid fire the poison
ran through her veins, and she lay faint and dying in
 "O Eurydice," he cried, "Eurydice, open thine eyes and
come back to me!"
For a moment the agony of his voice awoke her to life.
"Orpheus," she said, "beloved, this side of the river
of death we can dwell together no more. But love, my
dear one, is stronger than death, and some day our love
shall prevail, never again to be conquered."
When she had spoken her head sank down upon his breast,
and her spirit fled away, to return no more. So he
bore the fair image of his wife in his arms, and laid
her in the depths of the cave that had been their home.
Above her head he placed a great pine torch, and all
the long night watches he sat with his arms about her
and his cheek against her cheek; and his heart groaned
within him with a grief too great for words. Ere the
day dawned he kissed for the last time the lips that
could speak to him never again, and laid back her head
on a pillow of leaves and moss. Then he pulled down
the earth and stones about the mouth of the cave, so
that no one could find the opening, and left for
evermore the home he had loved so well. Onward he
walked in the grey light of dawn, little caring where
he went, and struck the chords of his lyre to tell all
the earth of his grief. The trees and the flowers
bowed down their heads as they listened, the clouds of
heaven dropped tears upon the ground, and the whole
world mourned with him for the death of Eurydice his
"Oh, sleep no more, ye woods and forests!" he sang,
"sleep no more, but toss your arms in the sighing wind,
and bow your heads beneath the sky that weeps with
 me. For Eurydice is dead. She is dead. No more shall
her white feet glance through the grass, nor the field
flowers shine in her hair. But, like last year's snow,
she is melted away, and my heart is desolate without
her. Oh! why may the dried grass grow green again, but
my love must be dead for ever? O ye woods and forests,
sleep no more, but awake and mourn with me. For
Eurydice is dead; she is dead, dead, dead!"
So he wandered, making his moan and wringing the hearts
of all who heard him, with the sorrow of his singing.
And when he could find no more comfort upon earth he
bethought him of the words of his wife:
"This side of the river of death we can dwell together
no more. But love, my dear one, is stronger than
death, and some day our love shall prevail, never again
to be conquered."
He pondered the words in his heart, and wondered what
she might mean.
"If love is stronger than death," he thought, "then my
love can win her back. If I can charm the hearts of
living things with the magic of my song, I may charm,
too, the souls of the dead and of their pitiless king,
so that he shall give me back Eurydice, my wife. I
will go down to the dark halls of Hades, and bring her
up to the fair earth once more."
When hope was thus born anew in his heart he grew brave
for any venture, and pressed forward on his way till he
came to the place men called the mouth of Hades.
Nothing daunted by the tales of horror they told him,
he entered the fearsome cave, which led deep down into
the bowels of the earth, where noisome vapours chocked
 breath in his throat, and the dark forms crouched in
his path and fled shrieking before him, till at last he
stood by the shores of the ninefold Styx, that winds
about the realms of the dead. Then he shouted aloud to
Charon, the ferryman, to row him across in his boat.
When the old man heard his voice, he stopped midway
across the stream.
"Who is it that calls me in the voice of the living?"
"It is Orpheus," he answered. "I am come to fetch back
Eurydice, my wife."
But the old man laughed, and his laugh cut the heart of
Orpheus like a knife.
"O beardless innocent," he said, "who gave thee power
over life and death? I tell thee that many have stood
by the shores of this stream and entreated me to take
them across, that they might bring their dear ones back
with them. But no living soul shall sit in my boat,
nor shall the dead, who have sat in it once, ever
return to sit in it again. Go back to earth, young
man, and when thy time has come, thou too shalt sit in
my boat, never fear."
"That time has come, Charon," he said, "and I shall sit
in thy boat this day."
Raising his lyre, he struck the chords, and his love
taught him the tune and the words to sing. Steadfastly
he gazed at Charon, and the magic of his singing drew
the old man towards him as surely as though the rope of
the boat were in his hands. Without ceasing his song,
he took his place in the stern, and in time to the
music Charon dipped his oars in the stream, so that the
boat swung over the river as it had never swung before.
 As it stranded in the shallow water, Orpheus leaped
lightly to the shore.
"Farewell for the present, Charon," he cried; "we shall
meet again ere long."
He hastened on his way, playing and singing his magic
song. Resting on his pole, the old man looked after
him with wonder in his heart, and shaded his eyes with
his hand. For a ray of the sun seemed to shine for a
moment in that cold grey land as Orpheus passed by.
The pale flowers of hell tossed their heads to and fro,
as though the west wind played through their leaves,
and their colour and their scent came back to them once
more. With a sigh, Charon breathed in the perfume from
the air, and tossed back the grey locks from his brow
and straightened his drooping shoulders.
"It is long since I smelt the fresh smell of the
earth," he muttered. "Who is this young god, who can
bring light to the darkness and life to the realms of
So till Orpheus passed out of sight and the sound of
his singing grew faint in the distance Charon stood
looking after him, and then with a sigh he sat down in
his boat and bent to his oars once more.
And Orpheus went on his way, with hope beating high in
his heart, till he came to the portals of the palace of
Death. On the threshold lay Cerberus, the three-headed
hound of hell, who night and day kept watch beside the
gate to see that no one passed in save those who had
died upon earth, and that those who had passed him once
should pass him never again. When he heard Orpheus
coming, he sprang to his feet and snarled and growled
and bared his sharp white fangs; but as the
 strains of music grew clearer he sank silent to the
ground, and stretched his three great heads between his
paws. Orpheus, as he passed by, bent down and stroked
him, and the fierce beast licked his hands. So did he
enter into the gates of Death, and passed through the
shadowy halls, till he stood before the throne of
Pluto, the king. A dim and awful form did he sit,
wrapped about in darkness and mist, and on his right
hand sat Persephone, his wife, whom he stole from the
meadows of Sicily. When he saw Orpheus his eyes
gleamed like the gleam of cold steel, and he stretched
forth his gaunt right arm towards him.
"What dost thou here, Orpheus?" he asked.
"I am come to ask thee a boon, O king," he answered.
"There be many that ask me a boon," said Pluto, "but
none that receive it."
"Yet none have stood before thee in the flesh, as I do,
O king, to ask their boon."
"Because thou hast trespassed unlawfully on my domain,
dost thou think that I will grant thee thy boon?"
"Nay; but because my grief is so great that I have
dared what none have dared before me, I pray thee to
Without waiting for an answer, he struck his lyre and
sang to them the story of his life, and how he had
loved and lost Eurydice. The eyes of the pale queen
brightened when she heard him, and the colour came back
to her cheeks, as the song brought back to her mind the
days of her girlhood and the sunlit meadows of Sicily.
Then a great pity filled her heart for Eurydice, who
had left the green earth for ever, and might not
 return, as she herself did, in the spring-time, living
only the dark winter months below. As Orpheus ceased
his song she laid her hand upon her husband's.
"My lord," she said, "grant his boon, I pray thee. He
is brave and true-hearted, and he sings as no man has
ever sung before."
But the stern king sat with his head upon his hand and
eyes cast down, deep in thought. At length he spoke,
and his voice was soft and kind.
"Orpheus," he said, "thou hast touched my heart with
thy singing. Yet it lies not with me to grant thee thy
"But if the queen, thy wife, may return to the earth in
the spring-time, may not Eurydice, too, come back at
thy command?" asked Orpheus.
"The ways of the gods are not the ways of mortals,
Orpheus; they walk by paths you may not tread. Yet,
though I have no power to give thee back Eurydice, thou
mayest win her thyself if thou hast the strength."
"How may that be?" cried Orpheus. "For the sake of
Eurydice I have strength for any venture."
"No strength of the flesh can win her, Orpheus, but the
strength of a faith unfaltering. I will send for her,
and when thou seest her stand within the hall, holding
out her hands towards thee, thou must harden thy heart,
and turn and flee before her by the way thou camest.
For the love of thee she will follow, and she will
entreat thee to look at her and give her thy hand over
the stony way. But thou must neither look at her nor
speak to her. One look, one word, will be thine
undoing, and she must vanish from thine eyes for ever.
The spell of thy song still
 rests upon the guardians of my kingdom, and they will
let thee and thy wife pass by. But think not by word
nor deed to help her. Alone she passed from life to
death, and alone she must pass back from death to life.
Her love and thy faith can be the only bond between
you. Hast thou the strength for this?"
"My lord," cried Orpheus, " 'tis but a small thing
to ask for a love like mine."
"It will be harder than thou thinkest," the king
replied. "Nevertheless, I will call Eurydice."
He signed to a messenger to fetch her. In a few
moments he returned, and behind him came Eurydice from
the garden of Death. The dank dew hung heavy about
her, and she walked with her eyes upon the ground,
while her long black hair hid the paleness of her face.
Thus did she come into the centre of the hall, and, not
speaking or moving, Orpheus gazed upon her till she
raised her eyes and saw him. With a cry she sprang
"Orpheus!" she cried.
But, remembering the words of the king, he turned and
fled before her through the misty halls and out by the
great gate, where Cerberus lay tamed with his heads
between his paws. And he tried to shut his ears to her
pleading as they sped across the plain, but every word
that she said cut his heart like a stab, and more than
once he almost turned to answer her, so piteous was her
"Oh, Orpheus, what have I done? Why dost thou flee
from me? Oh, give me one word, one look, to say thou
lov'st me still."
But he remained firm in his resolve, and sat himself in
 Charon's boat, and steeled his heart, whilst she sat
beside him, but could not touch him. For he was a
living soul, and she was a shade, and might not touch
him if she would. But still she pleaded with him.
"O Orpheus, my heart is starving for one look, one
word. I know thou lovest me, but oh! to see thine eyes
tell me so and hear thy lips say it."
He longed to turn and clasp her in his arms, and tell
her how he loved her better than life. But still he
refrained, and hugged his lyre close to his breast in
his agony; and as soon as the boat touched the shore he
leapt out and hastened up the steep, dark path, whilst
the sweat stood out in drops upon his brow, so hard was
the way and so stifling the air. Behind him followed
Eurydice, and if the way was hard for him, for her it
was ten times harder. She had no strength for words,
and only by her sobs did Orpheus know she was following
still. So they went on, till at length the air grew
pure and fresh, and the daylight shone before them at
the mouth of the cave. With eager steps Orpheus
pressed forward, longing for the moment when he might
clasp his wife in his arms and speak to her once more.
But as the way grew easier for him, it grew harder for
Eurydice; since no one may pass from death to life
without sore travail and pain. So she struggled and
stumbled after him, and her heart gave way within her
as she felt she could follow no farther.
"Orpheus!" she cried in her despair, "thy hand."
"ORPHEUS!" SHE CRIED IN HER DESPAIR, "THY HAND."
Ere reason could restrain him, his heart had answered
her sudden cry, and he turned and held out his arms to
help her. All too late he knew his folly. For even as
he was about to hold her she slipped away, and as smoke
 borne away on the wings of the wind, so was she borne
away, helpless and lifeless, to the realms of the dead,
and her voice floated back like the echo of a dream.
"Farewell, Orpheus. Alas! Alas! farewell!"
So for the second time did he lose Eurydice; and if his
grief was great before, it was ten times greater now.
For as the cup of joy had touched his lips it had
slipped from his hand and broken, and he knew that the
chance the gods had given him once they would give him
never again, but that all his life long he must dwell
in loneliness without Eurydice his wife. Blindly he
went forward with his lyre beneath his arm. The
strings hung broken and lifeless, for the rocks and
thorns had torn them as he passed on his way up from
Hades. But he heeded not nor made any effort to mend
them, for the strings of his heart hung broken too, and
the music in his soul was dead. In black despair he
wandered on, and the sunshine to his eyes was darkness,
and the fair forms of earth were sadder than the
phantoms of Hades had seemed to him while hope still
beat in his breast. As a colt that has wandered far by
unknown paths returns at last surely to his homestead,
so did his feet carry him back to Pelion and the dear
home of his boyhood. Not till he stood in the path
which led up to the cave did he know where he had come;
but when he saw the mouth of the cave before him his
eyes were opened once more, and a faint joy stole into
his heart as he went on and sat down on a stone
outside. All was silent and deserted, and he sat for a
while alone with his own sad thoughts, till he felt a
touch upon his shoulder, and looked up into the face of
Cheiron standing beside him.
 "Oh my master!" he cried.
"My son, thou hast suffered," said Cheiron.
"I have been down into Hades, Cheiron," he answered.
"My child," said Cheiron, "I know it all."
He gazed upon him, his great mild eyes full of pity,
and Orpheus gazed back at him, and knew that he
understood, though how he had learnt his tale he could
not tell. His heart drew comfort from the sympathy
that understood without words, and was softened as the
parched earth is softened by rain, so that he took
Cheiron's hands between his, and bowed his head upon
them, and wept.
Thus it came to pass that he returned to his boyhood's
home, and dwelt once more with Cheiron and his lads
beneath the shade of snow-capped Pelion. In time the
bitterness of his grief was purged away, and he
remembered Eurydice as something bright and fair that
had been woven into the web of his life while yet it
was young, and which could never be taken away. As he
listened again to the old songs which Cheiron had sung
to him and his comrades when they were lads, the fire
and the eagerness of his youth were born once more
within him. When he saw the elder ones go forth into
the world and little lads brought up to take their
place with Cheiron, he felt how life stands ever
beckoning and calling to those in whose veins the blood
of gods and heroes runs, and they go forth to rule and
to serve, to fight and to labour, in answer to the call
which the foolish do not hear. So one morning he took
his lyre, which for many a long day had lain silent,
and putting fresh strings for the ones that were
broken, he passed his fingers lovingly over them as of
 the spirit of music sprang to life once more in his
heart, as the flowers spring to life when the winter is
past, so that once again he could charm every living
thing by the magic of his song.
When Cheiron knew that his power had come back to him
he was glad.
"Orpheus," he said, "thou hast conquered. A weaker man
than thou art would have lain crushed beneath the foot
of adversity. But those who bravely rise again are
stronger than before."
"Master," he said, "when I saw the broken strings of my
lyre and felt my voice choked within me, I said, 'With
the breaking of this string the music dies and becomes
a voiceless echo of the past, just as now Eurydice is a
shade in the shadowy land while her body is dust upon
earth,' and lo! ere the strings were mended or the
voice grew strong again, the soul of song lived once
more in my heart, as on the day when first my mother
Calliope breathed her spirit upon me. If music may
live without sound or words, may not the soul live
without bones and flesh? This is a mystery, and I must
seek the wide world for an answer."
And Cheiron smiled upon him.
"It is good to seek," said he, "though thou find no
answer in the end."
"Yet will I find an answer," said Orpheus.
So when the call of Jason came soon after, for him to
sail with the heroes in the good ship Argo for
the finding of the Golden Fleece, and to be their
minstrel on the stormy seas, he went down right gladly
to Iolchos. At the sound of his song the gallant ship
leapt over the
 stones and into the sea like a charger ready for
battle, though before she had been too heavy to move.
So he sailed with the heroes on their perilous venture,
filling their hearts with courage and hope, and took
them safely through many a danger by the magic of his
song. But though many had set out, there were few that
returned, and he saw the wreck of many a promising life
on that terrible voyage, but found no answer for his
quest. He bowed his head in reverence to the memory of
those who, for the sake of adventure and honour and a
noble name, had poured forth their lives like water on
a thirsty soil, knowing full well when they set forth
that the danger would be for all, but the prize and the
dear home-coming for few.
So, as soon as might be, he set forth again to wander
the wide world alone with his lyre. Some say he went
to Egypt, others to Crete, but wherever he went he
found the great god Dionysos, the god of many
names—Bromios, Bacchos, Zagreus—who fills
men's minds with inspiration and divine madness, so
that they become one with him and with the life that
lives for ever behind the forms of things that die. He
ate of the flesh of the mystic bull, which is the god
himself, and to the sound of his lyre the Mænads
danced over the mountains and through untrodden woods,
and held to their breasts young lions, and cubs of the
untamed wolf. Far away from towns and cities, where
custom and language raise barriers between man and man,
on the breast of the untouched earth they danced their
mystic dance, and became one with Bacchos and with all
things that have life in the present, or have
 lived in the past. There Orpheus found Eurydice again
in the communion of soul with soul, and learnt what she
had meant when she said, "Some day our love shall
prevail, never again to be conquered." So it came to
pass that he became the priest of Bacchos, the mystic
god, who is one with Life and Love. And he wrote upon
tablets the rule of life, by which, through purity and
initiation, men may become one with god, and when they
have been purified by birth and re-birth in many
diverse forms, they may win, because they are one with
him, the immortal life that changeth not, like the life
of the stars in heaven.
The tale goes of Orpheus that he at last came to Thrace
and the wild mountain lands that lie to the north of
Greece. There he tamed the fierce hill tribes with the
magic of his song, and lived a life of abstinence and
purity and ecstasy of the soul. But the followers of
Dionysos who dwelt in those parts looked on him
askance; for whereas they worshiped the god with
sheding of blood and rending of goats, in the madness
that is born of wine, the ecstasy of his worship was
born of music and beauty, and he would have no part nor
lot in their wild revels. And because there is no hate
that is greater than the hate of those who worship one
god in divers way, there came a day when the mad frenzy
of the Mænads was turned against Orpheus himself.
As he sat looking forth on the sunrise and singing as
he touched his lyre, the raving band came up behind
him, full of madness and of wine. And they tore him
limb from limb in their frenzy, as they had torn the
wild goats before, and cast his head into the Hebrus,
thinking to silence his singing for ever.
 But his head floated on the waves of the eddying
stream, fair and fresh as in life, singing as it
floated its magic enchanting song. Gently the river
bore it along and down to the sea, and the blue sea
waves kissed it and passed it from one to the other,
till at last they cast it up, still singing, on the
shore of the Lesbian Isle. There the Muses came and
buried it, and made of its tomb a sacred shrine, where,
for many a long year, men came from far and wide to
worship and consult the oracle. About that shrine the
nightingales sang more sweetly than in any other spot
on earth, for they learnt their song from the lips of
Orpheus himself. And men bound themselves in a holy
brotherhood which they called by his name, and lived by
the rules he had written on his tablets. Some of those
who pretended to follow him were charlatans and rogues,
and brought dishonour and ridicule upon his name, while
others kept the letter without the spirit of his law;
but among them were those of a pure and blameless life,
who kept his doctrines, and handed them down from
generation to generation, till in time they became the
foundation-stones of the great philosophies of
Pythagoras and Plato.
Thus did Orpheus live and die, and pointed out to men
the path of immortality by purity and abstinence and
ecstasy of the soul. There were many of old who hated
his doctrine, and many who hate it now; and, indeed, it
is not one by which every man can live. But there are
those to whom it brings peace and joy, though they call
it by other names than his; and these are the Bacchoi,
the initiated, who have seen the inward light, and
their souls are at peace.