Opera: from what fertile ground did it spring? How did this new art form so completely capture the imagination of a nation, a continent, a world? This exciting history connects twenty centuries, investigating the antecedents of early opera, particularly the extent to which Classical Athenian tragedy influenced the humanist theorists and musical practitioners of northern Italy from the fifteenth through the early decades of the seventeenth century. What role, precisely, did Greek myth play in forming early opera, especially the magical story of Orpheus with his lyre, conquering the land of Death itself? Who were these Italian Renaissance humanists with their philosophically driven musical aims, whose explorations and discourses created the practical developments of monody, recitative, and basso continuo. Just how important proved to be the Aristotelian idea of catharsis, here equated with the Baroque notion “moving the affections,” in informing the purpose of early opera? Make Sweet the Minds of Men offers a window into this aspect of the Baroque revolution in music.