Orpheus and Juliet: Lovers or victims of love?


Courtesy wikipedia.com

1861 MASTERPIECE: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corrot’s painting of Orpheus leading Eurydice from the Underworld.

Among the most timeless tales of love in literature are also two of the most tragic tales of love: those of Orpheus and Eurydice and Romeo and Juliet.

What most people familiar with these stories don’t realize, however, is that Orpheus and Juliet were both victims of love that led to their undoing.

To begin with, Juliet was a victim of her love experience. Young, innocent and naïve, she truly believed that what she and Romeo had was love, not simply physical attraction.

Romeo was a womanizer, as seen in the fact that he was more than willing to do anything for his previous love interest Rosaline, in order to take her virginity. Juliet sacrificed her body, family and life to Romeo, believing that he had concern for her as his better half.

In reality Romeo was a bipolar, hormonal teen who could see only her beauty and mistook this allurement for love. Juliet became so enticed by his charm that she completely disregarded her cousin Tybalt’s death, and later killed herself so she could be with Romeo for eternity in her perspective of the afterlife.

What Romeo had for Juliet wasn’t love or affection. This made their relationship one-sided, creating Juliet’s perception of what she and Romeo had, and ultimately rendered Juliet a victim.

Orpheus could be deemed a martyr to love. According to Greek mythology, him and his wife Eurydice were madly in love until her demise. Although his lover was dead, Orpheus still longed for her affection. He became so obsessed with the concept of bringing her back from death that he ventured to the Underworld in his failed attempt to revive her.

In the pursuit of his lost love Orpheus battled Cerberus, the three-headed, monstrous beast that guards the Underworld, and begged Hades to have back the object of his affection. However, this was in vain because he lost her before she could step into the light of mortality. This failure set him in a state of depression; he soon craved death more than life and was killed believing that he would be reunited with his dead wife.

To this day many scholars don’t know whether Orpheus and Eurydice were together in death. Some tales state that after the Maenads killed him the muses kept his head so that his beautiful voice could sing to them for eternity. Others state that his sad spirit wanders, filling the head of heartbroken musicians with his songs of despair. Orpheus forced himself through multiple trials to be with his love only to fail in both life and death.

Juliet and Orpheus are victims of their love experiences. Both gave up everything for their partner. In return they were subjected to death and mental torture. In Juliet’s case she pined for a lover who didn’t truly love her, and because of this she professed her love for him in ways that brought her closer to death. Orpheus did exactly the same as Juliet except he continued to fight for his lover after she died.

Orpheus and Juliet underwent trials and gave up the most in their relationships, making them victims of love.