The climax of the story occurs when Orpheus travels to the Underworld to look for Eurydice and loses her before the couple can make it to the Upperworld.
In the story, Orpheus is in love with the beautiful Eurydice. Charmed with his gift for music, Eurydice consents to marry Orpheus. However, the couple's happiness does not last long. While walking in a meadow with her maids, Eurydice is stung by a viper and dies soon after. To assuage his grief, Orpheus sings sad songs to commemorate his love for his deceased wife.
In the end, when he can stand it no more, Orpheus makes his way to the Underworld (this is where the climax of the story begins). There, he hopes to make his case before Hades and Persephone (the wife of Hades); Orpheus means to ask for Eurydice back. To make Hades more amenable to his request, Orpheus makes beautiful music for the god of the Underworld and his wife. In the end, Hades gives his permission for Orpheus to take Eurydice back to the Upperworld.
Orpheus is ecstatic when he hears this, but Hades cautions him against looking at Eurydice until the couple reaches the Upperworld. Orpheus is to trust that Eurydice will always be behind him. Orpheus consents to this stipulation, and he keeps his promise until they are almost out of the Underworld. Being ahead of Eurydice, Oprheus is the first to see the light of the Upperworld. At that point, excited beyond measure, he unwisely turns to look at Eurydice in order to make sure that she is right behind him.
When he does so, Eurydice (being still in the Underworld), is lost to him forever. He reaches for her hand, but she goes back into the shadows. Despite Orpheus' pleading, Hades will not admit Orpheus into the Underworld a second time. So, in the climax of the story, Orpheus tries to retrieve Eurydice from the Underworld but fails in his mission.
The story concludes with Orpheus being torn limb from limb by Thracian maidens after he repulses their offer of comfort. The maidens throw Orpheus' head and lyre into the River Strymon, but they cannot stop the head from singing and the lyre from playing. In the end, Orpheus' body is buried at Libethra.