Lyra

The Lyre

Lyra Constellation

The Brighter Stars of Lyra

The Story

The Lyre of Orpheus

The Lyre is the Lyre of Orpheus, but it was invented by Hermes, the Messenger God. Hermes happened upon an empty tortoise shell, and turning the shell around in his hands, he idly thumped it. The resonant echoes of the shell gave him the idea of tying strings across the shell. He found the strings made beautiful sounds, and so the Lyre was created.

The Deal With Apollo

Hermes gave the Lyre to the god Apollo. Some say that Hermes traded the Lyre for a magical staff that brings wealth and prosperity. Others say that Hermes used the Lyre to appease the anger of Apollo, when Hermes was caught making off with Apollo's cattle. The Lyre

Orpheus Ends Up With the Lyre

Apollo passed the Lyre on to his Orpheus, who sailed with Jason and the Argonauts and was the most accomplished musician of the age. The music of Orpheus could charm people, even angry people and wild beasts. Orpheus with his Lyre could charm even rocks and streams. It is said that the oak trees growing along the coast of Thrace migrated there to better hear the songs of Orpheus.

Orpheus' Sad End

Orpheus lost his wife Euridyce to death, and failed in his attempt to win her back from the God of the Underworld. Orpheus himself died after being set upon by a mob. One story has it that it was the intoxicated followers of Dionysius who tore the musician limb from limb. In another story, it is a mob of women who stabbed Orpheus to death. They were angry because the musician, still in love with his long dead wife, had spurned their affections. After the mob killed Orpheus, they took his Lyre and threw it in a river.

The Lyre Ends Up in the Stars

Zeus sent a vulture to retrieve the Lyre, which he set into the stars. Others say that it was the Nine Muses who carried the Lyre into heaven.  
 


Copyright © 1998 - 2010 by Arnold V. Lesikar,
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Science,
St. Cloud State University,St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498

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