A free Reader's Theatre Version of Orpheus is available for classroom use (pdf)

Folktales > Orpheus

Eurydice by Raquel Bosze age 10, Darnell School, Las Vegas

Meet the Characters:

Cerberus: A three headed dog guarding the Underworld

Charon: A skeleton Ferryman of the Underworld

Chorus: A group of people who speak in unison, much like a narrator

Hades: The god of the Underworld (also known as Pluto)

Eurydice: Orpheus' wife

Orpheus: A talented musician

A lyre is a musical instrument, much like a harp.

Cerberus by Keisha Caldwell
Orpheus by Emily Thacker
Charon by Amber Lane
Orpheus by Jessica Eldridge
Eurydice by Michaela Leann Britton
Cerberus by Nathan Fugate

Speak in unisonTIP: Try speaking the chorus parts aloud with a group of people. You may need to rehearse it together to get the timing and rhythm right. It helps to clap out the rhythm emphasizing the downbeat and make your words clipped (short).

Long, long ago in Greece, there was a man named Orpheus, who played an excellent lyre. His music was so good that it soothed the savage beasts, and even the rocks and stones were moved. Orpheus and his lyre made everyone and everything really happy. And there was one person who made Orpheus really happy; her name was Eurydice.

Eurydice by Michael McGeorge

One day Eurydice was out frolicking in the woods when she was bitten by a snake.

The snake died, but Eurydice died too.

Hades by Hannah Cook, age 11 Darnell School, Las Vegas, NV

Hades came and took Eurydice away to the Underworld. When Orpheus heard the news, he was saddened by it so much that he hung up his lyre and stopped playing it. Then one day someone came along and asked Orpheus why he no longer played his lyre and said that his music was so beautiful, that it could even waken the dead. This gave Orpheus an idea. He knew that the entrance to the Underworld was hidden by some rocks. So, Orpheus took down his lyre and went out into the mountains. Then he played for all of the rocks, and stones, and boulders. Finally, two large boulders rocked and rolled, revealing the entrance to the Underworld. Orpheus stepped in the cave and found himself face to face with the three-headed dog Cerberus. Orpheus took out his lyre and began playing. This soothed Cerberus and Orpheus managed to slip by.

say this with a friendChorus:
Down, down, down, through the dark and the chill journeyed Orpheus with his lyre. Till he came to the river, the river Styx.

After walking through a long tunnel, he found Charon, an eerie skeleton who ferried the dead across the river Styx. Once again Orpheus took out his lyre and began playing. Charon liked the music so much that he ferried Orpheus across the river.

read it out loudChorus:
So he ferried on over the River Styx ‘til he came to the palace of Hades.

Orpheus called out for Hades, awakening the god of the Underworld from his afternoon nap. Hades appeared and grumpily asked Hades what he wanted. After much stuttering, Orpheus finally managed to get out that he was there for Eurydice. Hades told Orpheus that he should have just said that in the first place, then he gave a flat out "NO". Orpheus knew that his only chance was to charm Hades with his lyre.

And so Orpheus played and before long Hades couldn't stop himself from dancing. He gave in and told Orpheus that he could have anything he wanted - just as long as he stopped playing that awful happy music. Hades allowed Eurydice to go on the condition that Orpheus not speak to her, look at her, or touch her until they were out.

Speak in unisonChorus:
So they started the journey, the long spooky journey and came once again to the river Styx. Over the river they started the climb back up, up, up to the top.

"There is the entrance!" Orpheus thought. "We're almost there . . . but if we're almost there, that's as good as being there. Right?" So, Orpheus turned to get a look at Eurydice. But Eurydice dodged his gaze and hid behind him. Orpheus kept turning and Eurydice kept dodging behind him. Finally, Orpheus couldn't stand it. "Eurydice?" he asked. "Yes dear!" came a harsh raspy voice from behind him. Orpheus turned around and there in Eurydice's place was Hades. "Ha! Fooled you." Hades said. Then dragging Eurydice off he said to Eurydice, "Come on, back to the resort." And although Orpheus continued to play his lyre all of his songs were tearjerkers and he taught the rest of the world the sound of sadness.

Hades by Heather Cosby

~The End

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@ Your Library

For more myths from Greece go to your local library. You will find Greek Myths in the 100 section at your library (Dewey Decimal System), or under Folk tales (398). Look for more stories about:

  • Orpheus
  • Eurydice
  • Hades
  • Cerberus
  • Charon

Also:

  • Hercules
  • Zeus

About this Story

The story Orpheus originated in ancient Greece, the birthplace of theatre. The Greeks used masks to portray characters and spoke some parts in unison by a chorus.

Orpheus is available on "Out of the Bag" at CD Baby. The Act!vated Actors have taken it on tour several times. This online reading version was adapted by Zephyr Goza (when he was 11 years old), based on the theatrical stage version by Dennis Goza.

Thanks to the students of Elk Knob Elementary in Woodway, Virginia and Darnell Elementary in Las Vegas, Nevada who designed the masks and pictures for this Web page.

Act!vated Story Park

Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 enthusiasts can now explore rides and attractions based on folktales from around the world.

Embark on an epic (and frightening) journey with the Greek hero Orpheus as he tries to bring Eurydice back from the dead. You will have to face the perils and dangers of the Underwold as wrath of Hades surrounds you on this one-of-a-kind rollercoaster adventure. Face off against Cerberus the three-headed dog, Charon the gatekeeper of the Underworld, lost souls bent on revenge, and Hades himself as you drop vertically at speeds of up to 73 MPH.

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