chapter  1
19 Pages

Introduction: From the Lexical to the Visual

The perhaps most widely known and also most intriguing myth on the power of vision is that of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus is a masterful musician, playing the lyre and singing beautifully. When his wife Eurydice dies after being poisoned by a snake, Orpheus is consulting the gods and nymphs on how to bring Eurydice back to life. After traveling to the underworlds, into Hades’s territories, the home of the dead, Orpheus’s music is so compelling and beautiful that he manages to convince Hades and Persephone to let Eurydice return to the “upper world,” the world of the living. The one condition is that Orpheus must walk ahead of Eurydice and that he cannot turn around to look at his wife before they depart from the realm of the dead. At one moment, when approaching their destination, Orpheus is failing to keep his promise and turn around to look at Eurydice and at that very moment she disappears forever into the subterranean domains. Orpheus’s gaze is what is preventing the bringing of Eurydice back to life; he is guilty of impatience and his very look is what ultimately separated himself from his beloved wife for the rest of his life.