The most obvious analogy between Erik and Orpheus is their musical genius. Orpheus played music so beautiful and sweet that even the trees and the rocks would follow him whenever he sang. The musical instrument usually associated with Orpheus is the lyre - ancestor to the harp, which is often associated with Angels. So musically gifted was the half-mortal son of Calliope that Apollo, the god of music himself, adopted Orpheus as his son.
Erik's trademark is his remarkable gift for music. Even during his younger days while traveling with the gypsies, people described his voice and his singing as almost other-worldly. According to Leroux and Kay, he was known to sometimes use his voice to mesmerize an unsuspecting person into a hypnotic trance. Even when Christine Daaé realized that Erik was not an Angel of Music, she could not leave him when given the option to do so. According to her own testimony, she could not leave him because she knew him as The Voice, going so far as to say, "The Voice had come to life again and I followed it, enraptured, on the harmonius journey; I belonged to Orpheus's flock!" This memory she describes is of the time in which she sang as Erik played his harp.
In the movie by Waterbearer Films, Erik asks Christine to join in his quest in search of Perfect Music which leads to Perfect Love. According to The Secret Lore of Music: The Hidden Power of Orpheus by 19th century French music scholar Fabre d'Olivet, those in charge of the Mysteries of Ancient World (Egypt, Greece, China) believed in Perfect Music, a concept that could be measured objectively by use of geometry. They taught of its civilizing affects, its ability to heal both body and spirit, and of its powers to expand the mind. According to this same scholarly work, the name Calliope (mother of Orpheus) means, "one who tells of astonishing things."
Like Erik, Orpheus was a widely accomplished figure: his giftedness was not limited to music and poetry. The famous King of Thrace also spent some time as an Argonaut (soldier) with Jason in the pursuit for the coveted Golden Fleece and served as the High Priest for both Apollo and Dionysius. He even had a branch of Dionysian worship named after him: Orphism. Erik had served as a fearsome soldier in Persia, as seen in the infamous courtyard tournaments. For many phans, there was at least for some time a website titled "The Universal Church of Erik." While it is not a religion, it does discuss the spiritual feelings many Erik phans have for this ingenius prodigy.
The elements of Orpheus and his love for the tree-nymph Eurydice can be seen in Erik and his unexplained love for Christine. Orpheus spent the last part of his life in loneliness and destitution, for he had lost his beloved Eurydice. Other women had expressed interest in him, but he wanted only Eurydice. For numerous Phantom phans, the same holds true for Erik and his undying love for Christine. The love that Orpheus had for Eurydice and the love Erik had for Christine drove them into defying sensitive taboos for their time. Orpheus would not passively accept mortality, going so far as to visit the Underworld himself in a failed effort to retrieve Eurydice. (In the 1950's French film Orpheus, directed by Jean Cocteau, Orpheus and Eurydice travel to the Underworld and back via none other than a mirror in Eurydice's room.....) Erik would not passively accept the conventional hostilities directed at "freaks," and defied this attitude in a failed attempt to be loved for himself.
It is no suprise to me that in the made-for-television movie aired by CBS in 1983, the Phantom writes his notes under the alias "Orpheus" (although his motives for doing so involve a dead wife). Nor is it a suprise to me that, according to The Canary Trainer by Nicholaus Meyer, the Phantom not only had a passion for the mythology of ancient Greece but also took pride in the nickname "Orpheus" by the workman during the construction of the Paris Opera House.
Is this beloved prodigy a madman, or did he simply rediscover lost secrets that conventional wisdom still has yet to consider exploring? Is he a monster, or did he simply defy and attempt to change the suffocating and eventually self-destructive nature of conventional thought.
On this Tarot deck, Orpheus appears as the King of Cups. He sits on a throne by a body of water. The double face on this card is in his newfound wisdom about love, achieved the hard way, clashing with his inability to keep his true love. He no longer immerses himself in the waters, yet his guidance on this topic is sought by many.
Even the brutal death of Orpheus can be paralled with The Phantom. According to legend, Orpheus was dismembered by a group of women who were not only citizens of Thrace but also followers of Dionysius, for whom Orpheus was serving as High Priest. Only his head survived the violent incident unblemished. It was later found in a river, still singing as sweetly as ever while also crying out for his beloved Eurydice.
Before you continue on to the mercurial aspects of Erik - assuming you have read this far - please take a moment to read this Parable of the Phans posted one evening at an old forum that has long since disappeared from cyberspace.
He fell in love with a young singer by the name of Christine. He tried everything he knew to make her love him, yet still she left him for a rich friend of hers, leaving Erik alone and in despair.
When Erik died, his soul - or whatever you want to call it - decided that it was too large to fit into one person, and split into many pieces. Over the years, those pieces of Erik's soul found many people in whom they felt they could reside safely. These people, though they did not know that they had some of Erik's soul in them, felt a connection to the one they knew as the Angel of Music.
That, my friends, is how Phans came to be, and that is why we are so loyal and loving towards Erik. He is in all of us, and we remember the love he has for Christine, and return that love to him.
Special thanks to "Phantomgoddess" not only for the lovely story but also for her generousity in granting me permission to post it on my Website.