A Myth Retold

Western literature gets many of its images and themes from two sources, the Bible and Greek mythology. John Banyan used Scripture in his great allegory, “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” We celebrate its three hundredth anniversary in this issue (see page 13). Modern writers, too, have powerfully used Bible stories; a notable example is William Faulkner’s “Absalom, Absalom!” Other novelists have retold Greek myths, such as C.S. Lewis did in his version of the Cupid and Psyche myth, “Till We Have Faces.” A student at Wheaton College has written a version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. To appreciate the subtle changes the author made in the story, here is an outline of the original. Orpheus, a son of Apollo, was a great musician who with his voice and lyre could soothe wild animals, make trees sway, and make rivers stand still. He married a nymph, Eurydice. When Aristaeus, another son of Apollo, tried to rape her, she ran away, was bitten by a snake, and died. Orpheus descended into Hades to find her. He was allowed to bring her back to earth provided he could lead her out of Hades without looking at her until they reached sunlight. He failed to resist the temptation and Eurydice vanished forever. Ms. Harmeling wrote this story as an assignment for a course on Christology. She transforms the myth into an expression of Christian truth and shows how it is possible to use any genre in a Christian way.

In a far-off land where the air was always filled with heavenly music, a beautiful maiden lived among the beasts and the flowers. Her name was Eurydice. Because of her beauty and love for the animals and nature, she was made their queen.

Every day, the prince of the land rode ...

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