The Head of Orpheus and the Leg of Euredica Cover Image
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Главата на Орфей и кракът на Евридика
The Head of Orpheus and the Leg of Euredica

Author(s): Ivan Marazov
Subject(s): Anthropology
Published by: Институт за етнология и фолклористика с Етнографски музей при БАН

Summary/Abstract: The article treats the fundamental opposition, reflecting in the death of Orpheus and Euredica; the hero died beheaded by the women and a snake bit his bride’s leg. The author makes many comparisons from the sphere of Indo-European mythology, which shows that beheading is a necessary sacrifice in mythological ritual traditions, connected with the “cycle of mead” or other sacral drinks, having a relation with the “secret knowledge”. The role of the head always belongs to the masculine sphere while the leg marks the female one, i.e. the “solar” and “chthonic” aspects of the world respectively. As a social code the head denotes the “first” (the priestly-juridical) function, while the legs are related to the “third” (economic) in the ideological hierarchy of the Indo-European three-partial model. The intervention of Aristeus, also Apollo’s son and honey discoverer in the myth of Orpheus and Euredica is probably a linking unit in the structure, as far as the “cycle of mead” is concerned – the fight to drink it, i.e. in joining the sacral knowledge of different social groups. In this cycle the battle for conquering the secret is between relatives from father’s side. The “honey” voice of the singer which does not cease to flow from his chopped head shows that Orpheus was the winner in this competition. But to achieve the honey he had to rob the bees of his brother Aristeus. Thus the bees (the drink = knowledge) are in fact exchanged for Euredica. The honey moon of the loving couple ends very quickly, but thus Orpheus possesses the knowledge as a result from the dramatic exchange with Aristeus.

  • Issue Year: XXI/1995
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 4-19
  • Page Count: 16
  • Language: Bulgarian