My OU course this year is on Greek and Roman myth. There is no exam; instead there is an extended, broad-ranging essay. You have to write on the mythological character of your choice, and their development. You have to use the evidence to make an argument about how/why they developed as they did. You have to use 3-8 sources, at least one of which must be classical (they can all be classical; or they can be all-but-one-modern).
My initial thought was to do Jason (as in 'and the Argonauts'). Pretty much so I could use the 1963 Ray Harryhausen classic film as a source
My husband did point out there might not be too much left to say on Jason (which is fine - I'm not expected to be making original contributions to the field at my level!) While looking in to it a bit, finding out sources that are readily available, I noticed that Orpheus was one of the Argonauts.
That Orpheus? The one as in 'and Eurydice' that I remember from secondary school classical studies lessons? As in, the one who is in an opera or two?
Yes, it turns out, that Orpheus. A man of many stories
So I looked in to his sources as well. A plethora of classical literature (The Argonautica, Ovid's Metamorphoses, another version of the Argonauts' story told from Orpheus' viewpoint [instead of Jason], Virgil...even Plato used him as an example of something-or-other).
Then a Middle English poem of the 13th Century which attempted to combine the classical myth with English folklore and faeries and so on ("Sir Orfeo", it's called).
And then the operas. Centuries of them. Historically jolly important ones like Peri's Euridice, or Monteverdi's L'Orfeo. Gluck a bit later on, and then Offenbach parodying that version (ker-ching! Reception-of-reception-of myth!) And so on, all the way up to Birtwistle and Glass...
And then what happens? I'm sitting at the baroque day and I snaffle andante_in_c's book of arias for a nose (I have no idea why, I'm not a singist). There's one from Peri's version in the book, how interesting. And next comes, DaisyChain singing from Gluck's version!
It's a sign! Orpheus is my man for the essay then