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Posted June 22, 2013
Greek mythos as feminist romance.
Eurydice is a powerful Thracian witch, but being powerful does not protect her from being persecuted because of her Gift. She is a fugitive from the latest local village where she used her Powers for good, then defended herself from evil, when Jason and the Argonauts come ashore for water and hunting. She makes herself useful to them, and the Gifted musician Orpheus takes her under his protection. They sail on, having the classic adventures in search of the Golden Fleece, with Eurydice as a crew member, an important part in rescuing Phineas from the harpies, and obtaining the Fleece with the partial cooperation of Medea.
Along the way, Eurydice falls deeply in love with Orpheus, and he with her, despite the fact that her Gift still makes him uneasy, and she doesn't keep her eyes cast down as proper Greek woman would.
Spoiler alert for those who didn't study Greek mythology in high school or college:
He insists that they return to his small Greek village. She wants to live elsewhere, where she is free to be who she is, but reluctantly agrees. Her misgivings are proven true; when he is away from the village, she is ambushed and "sacrificed" to Hades. As established in other works, Hades' realm is not really the realm of the Dead, of those dead to the upper worlds; the Gifted, the outcasts. Orpheus comes to reclaim her, believing her to actually BE dead, or ensorcelled.
In the classic myth, Orpheus has almost led Eurydice out of the Underworld, but he looks back, and she is then drawn magically back. In this version, they fight about what a proper woman's place is.
"I do not like your Gifts, Eurydice - I wish you would rid yourself of them..."
"I cannot rid myself of my Gifts," Eurydice cried. "They were born in me. But I tell you this, I would not if I could."
Orpheus may love her, but he still thinks he can change her. AND he thinks he can simply take her back to his village (the one where they tried to kill her) and everything will be just fine this time.
"Orpheus, my love, listen to me. I tried. I truly tried to be what you desired, what your village folk required, of a woman. It seems I failed. But that is not important. What is important is that I was miserably unhappy. I was bored and frightened all the time. I am not fit for village life."
"You will become so," Orpheus said.
He loses her because he keeps trying to make her lesser than what she is - which, as she has the wisdom to understand, would not in the end satisfy him anyway. Heartbroken, she returns to Plutos... but it may - or may not - be the end of the story.
I loved this feminist retelling of the story; I found all the characters vivid and unique, from Jason to Heracles to Medea (extremely creepy). Eurydice was brilliant and pragmatic; Orpheus was charming, persuasive, and he reminded me of many modern men who might be great in their own way, but don't "get it" about women's issues because they don't WANT to "get it."