Amnesia and the Orpheus myth: descending into the Underworld

Daniel: “It’s like Orpheus descending into the Underworld!”

Alexander: “Are you hiding something?”

Daniel: “What do you mean?”

Alexander: “Never mind. Your intuition is - remarkable.”

Daniel: “I’m not sure I’m following.”

Alexander: “It doesn’t matter. It’s just a myth, after all.”

I hadn’t thought much about this particular scene before, shrugging it off as foreshadowing Alexander’s intentions or just meant to be plain sinister, considering how much the Chancel reminds you of a gateway to the land of the dead. Well, that was until I started working on a painting and thinking about incorporating the Orpheus myth into it and ended up studying it a bit to get my references right - and realised there might be more to this flashback than I thought originally.

The myth has it that Orpheus possessed a lyre with which he could make music so enchanting that it charmed even inanimate objects. He descended into the Underworld to take back his dead wife, Eurydice, and charmed by his music, Hades himself relented and allowed him to bring her back, on a condition: that Orpheus could not look back until he was out of the Underworld for good, no matter what. Orpheus faltered in the end, however, losing his beloved forever.

I have two potential theories about this flashback; that Daniel is Orpheus, descending into his own ‘Underworld’ to bargain with Hades (Alexander) either for his redemption, his life or for the life of Hazel - it has been mentioned before that originally FG planned to have Hazel’s fate depend on what choices the player made as Daniel throughout the game. I guess the interpretation depends a lot on how you view Daniel and what you think is the ‘real’ ending of the game. Me? I think his bargain with Hades and what he retrieves from the Underworld, his purgatory, is his redemption, and it’s hinted at with Daniel’s monologue after the Revenge Ending. “I never looked back.” He retrieved what he wanted from the Underworld and returned to the world of the living without failing, unlike Orpheus. I quite like this theory, personally, though it’s the less likely one in my opinion.

The more likely meaning of this flashback, however, is that Alexander is referring to himself as Orpheus - his centuries’ long struggle to get back to his beloved, his Eurydice, even if it means descending into the Underworld. He has almost literally been through hell and back, looking at all the things he’s done. Despite harbouring a guilty conscious and knowing he’s corrupted beyond redemption, Alexander refuses to look back on his actions and give up - because quite like with Orpheus, reuniting with his beloved depends on whether or not he can keep himself from turning back.

Of course, it’s not beyond FG that the reference to Orpheus could have both (or even more than just these two) meanings, or be up to interpretation entirely.