A Greek Tear-Jerker


This is an example of how an artist can create pathos without melodrama. The relief is called The Goodbye and it is a very touching one, though there is no embracing, no kissing, no slobbering. The turning towards each other, the bowed heads, the merest touching of each other, the movement in the man’s feet, nervous to be off—they are enough to show the pain of parting; and to hand it on.

I found this picture of the relief long ago but know nothing more about it. It is certainly from the best time of Greek art. The figures must represent Orpheus and Eurydice. She is being retained in the Underworld by that angel. Orpheus totes his musical instrument. He won’t see her again.


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2 Responses to A Greek Tear-Jerker

  1. I don’t know the exact story of Orphes and would like to ask you to tell me where I could find it. It is mainly for myself, though it is also for a school paper that I must hand in next week. Thanking you in advance.

  2. I would say you are probably right about Orpheus and Euridice… but, you know, I’ve seen about the same scene (not so skillfully sculpted) as a funerary head stone. As a child and teenager (and even after that, by necessity – grandfathers and uncles and grandmothers have the bad habit of dying…) I strolled a lot in the old and very divers Sibiu cemetery (Sibiu being a cosmopolit town, with Germans, Romanians, Hungarians, Jews and Gipsies, to mention just the main ones, livind – and dying – together.) I positively remember more than one head stones inspired by this old greek bassrelief…

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