Orpheus's father the god Apollo and his mother was the muse Calliope. His birthplace and place of residence was in Pimpleia, Olympus. While living with his mother and her eight beautiful sisters in Parnassus, he met Apollo, who was courting the laughing muse Thalia. Apollo, as the god of music, gave Orpheus a golden lyre and taught him to play it. Orpheus's mother taught him to make verses for singing.
Orpheus took part as one of the Argonauts and used his skills to aid his companions. Chiron told Jason that without the aid of Orpheus, the Argonauts would never be able to pass the Sirens; the same Sirens encountered by Odysseus. The Sirens lived on three small, rocky islands called Sirenum scopuli and sang beautiful songs that enticed sailors to come to them, which resulted in the crashing of their ships into the islands. When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew his lyre and played music that was louder and more beautiful, drowning out the Sirens' bewitching songs. He also befriended Calais, one of the Boreads.
Orpehus was married to Eurydice. While walking among her people, the Cicones, in tall grass at her wedding, Eurydice was set upon by a satyr, a son of the god Aristaeus.
In her efforts to escape the satyr, Eurydice fell into a nest of vipers and suffered a fatal bite on her heel. Her body was discovered by Orpheus who, overcome with grief, played such sad and mournful songs that all the nymphs and gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus travelled to the underworld and by his music softened the hearts of Charon, Hades and Persephone (he was the only person ever to do so), who agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world.
He set off with Eurydice following, and, in his anxiety, as soon as he reached the upper world, he turned to look at her, forgetting that both needed to be in the upper world, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever.Orpheus mourned his wife for the rest of his life, and at the end had disdained the worship of all gods except for his father Apollo. One early morning he went to the oracle of Dionysus at Mount Pangaion to salute his god at dawn, but was ripped to shreds by Maenads for not honoring his previous patron, Dionysus. His remains were buried in Pieria. His head and lyre however, floated down the swift Hebrus to the Mediterranean shore. There, the winds and waves carried them on to the Lesbos shore, where the inhabitants buried his head and a shrine was built in his honour near Antissa; there his oracle prophesied, until it was silenced by Apollo.
The lyre was carried to the heavens by the Muses, and was placed among the stars. The Muses also gathered up the fragments of his body and buried them at Leibethra below Mount Olympus, where the nightingales sang over his grave. After the river Sys flooded Leibethra, the Macedonians took his bones to Dion. Orpheus's soul returned to the underworld where he was reunited at last with his beloved Eurydice.
Orpheus was an incredible musician, able to enchant mortals and immortals with his music.