The lyre is one of the most ancient of musical instruments. For example, in the royal city of Ur (circa 3000 BC) musicians played the lyre for royalty, according to excavated artifacts.
In Greek mythology, the lyre was invented by Hermes. When only a child, he pulled a cow-gut across a tortoise shell, and thereby created the lyre. Hermes gave this lyre to his half-brother Apollo (both were fathered by Zeus). As the god of music, Apollo became associated with the instrument.
Orpheus was given the instrument by Apollo when only a child, and the Muses taught him to use it. Even Nature herself would stop to listen, enraptured by his music.
When Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus, died from a snake bite and was taken to the Underworld, Orpheus followed in hopes of bringing her back. His playing convinced Hades to release Eurydice, providing Orpheus didn't look back at her during the journey home - but just as he emerged into the sunlight Orpheus turned and gazed upon his wife, and lost her forever.
There are several versions about the death of Orpheus. In the most widespread version Dionysus invades Thrace, home of Orpheus, and the female followers of Dionysus (the Maenads) tear Orpheus from limb to limb. His head is thrown into the river Hebrus, where it floats to Lesbos, singing the entire time.
The lyre of Orpheus is also thrown into the river, and it too floats to Lesbos, beached near the temple of Apollo. Apollo then convinces Zeus that the instrument should become a constellation. Zeus agrees, and places the lyre of Orpheus between Hercules and Cygnus.
i'll be looking upward. what're your weekend plans?