Orpheus was the most famous musician of ancient Greece, and the lovely Eurydice was to be his wife. On the day of their wedding, however, Eurydice stepped on a poisonous snake. The snake's bite was fatal, and Eurydice was dead within just a few minutes. Orpheus was heartbroken, unable to believe that his beautiful bride had died on their wedding day.
As he mourned for Eurydice, Orpheus played on his lyre the saddest song anyone had ever heard. All the wedding guests began to weep, and even the gods of heaven could not stop themselves from weeping. One of the wedding guests then thought of a way to save Eurydice. "Orpheus," she said, "you should go to the underworld and see if your sad song can persuade King Hades to allow Eurydice to return to life."
Orpheus bravely went down into the underworld and played his funeral song for King Hades. "O Hades," Orpheus said, "I beg you to let my beloved Eurydice return to the land of the living."
Moved by Orpheus' music, Hades agreed, but he added one condition: Orpheus was not allowed to look back as Eurydice followed him out of the underworld. If Orpheus turned back to look at her, he would lose her forever.
Orpheus then began his journey along the path that led to the land of the living, confident that Eurydice was following behind him. With each footstep, though, he began to doubt. "Is she there?" he wondered. "Is she really there?"
Finally, Orpheus could not resist and turned around just to make sure that Eurydice really was there. He saw her, but only for a moment. As soon as he looked at her, she vanished back into the depths of the underworld, and Orpheus thus lost his beloved Eurydice forever.