Orpheus, the bard of Greek myth, is revealed as the son of Oneiros and the muse Calliope.
On the day of his wedding to Eurydice, his bride tragically dies from a snake bite. Overcome with grief, Orpheus petitions Oneiros for help to revive Eurydice, but his father is unwilling to help so Orpheus disavows him.
His uncle, Olethros, and aunt, Teleute, reluctantly give him some help, and send Orpheus to plead his case before Hades, the ruler of the Greek underworld. He succeeds in convincing Hades to return Eurydice, but under the condition that he not look back during their trek from his realm. Out of the doubt that Hades kept his word, however, Orpheus looks over his shoulder steps from the outside world, and Eurydice is taken back into the Underworld forever.
Orpheus falls into misery and shuns the company of others. When he encounters the bacchante, the mad female worshipers of Dionysus, and refuses to participate in their rituals. They tear him apart, and only his head remains intact. Because of his deal with Death, and time in Hades, he is condemned to eternal life as only a severed head.
In 1789, Lady Johanna Constantine makes a deal with Dream, and in June 1794, she is tasked with retrieving his son's head. Dream tells her that she is contracted to do this because he can't take part in the action directly. Johanna finds it to be a difficult task, but she finally accomplishes it. After that, Orpheus is taken to a remote island called Naxos, and Dream creates an order of priests who are charged to take care of Orpheus.
The order of priests protects Orpheus until the events of "Brief Lives", in which Dream meets his son for the first time in centuries. He is reluctant, but his son is the only oracle that can tell him where to find Destruction. Orpheus tells Dream Destruction's location, but in return, he asks that Dream kill him.
At the end of Brief Lives, Dream finally ends his son's life. Dream emerges from Orpheus' temple, Despair and Delirium met him upon his exit, suggesting Dream's state. The blood droplets on Dream's hands struck the ground, creating a new flower where they fell.