Orpheus was the son of a Muse, probably Calliope, the patron of epic poetry. There are many stories about Orpheus’ life but this painting focuses on his death. According to Aeschylus, Orpheus only worshipped the god Apollo, which angered Dionysus, who had Maenads rip Orpheus apart in a Dionysian frenzy. His head and lyre, still singing, floated down the river Hebrus to the sea and finally washed up on the island of Lesbos. The women of Lesbos buried the head and established a shrine and the oracle of Orpheus, but Apollo became jealous of the oracle’s fame and had it silenced. The Muses then buried Orpheus’ body and carried his lyre to the heavens where it became a constellation.