Monday, November 13, 2006

Between Eros and Thanatos

From The Guardian, Patrick Süskind explores the elusive connection between Eros and Thanatos.

I'm posting this article because he examines Orpheus and his journey into the realm of death for a love. And yes, as you can tell from the name of this blog, the Orphic myth is one that has intrigued me - but for a different reason.

The life of Orpheus ends not with a well-judged "It is finished", representing the final moment of a grand plan for the salvation of the world, but with a simple lament for the one woman he loved. It began with the same lament. While the coming of Jesus as Messiah was prophesied, while he was born the Messiah and was the Messiah all his life, Orpheus entered myth and history as a man in mourning. He had lost his young wife when she was bitten by a poisonous snake. He is so inconsolable at her loss that he does something which may well appear to us mad, but is easy to understand: he wants to bring his dead beloved back to life. It is not that he questions the power of death in itself or the fact that it has the last word, still less is he concerned with overcoming death on behalf of all mankind or achieving eternal life. He wants only this one woman back, his beloved Eurydice, and he wants her back not forever and ever, just for the length of a normal human life, to be happy with her on earth.

So Orpheus's venture into the underworld is not to be regarded as suicidal - he was no Werther, no Kleist, and certainly no Tristan - but as a bold venture looking towards life, and indeed desperately fighting for it.

Full article.

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