The Muses, Inspiration Of Artists

The myth of the Muses comes from the Greek mythology. According to the Greeks, the Muses where goddesses that provided inspiration to musicians, poets, and artists.

There are two versions of the origin of the Muses: that they are daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, or Uranus and Gaia.

It was said that there were nine Muses, and that they were part of the entourage of Apollo. According to the Greek tradition, the Muses love to sing and their first song praised the victory of the Olympian gods over the Titans, when a new cosmic order was established.

It is said that sometimes the Muses accompanied the Kings, inspiring their words and filling them with wisdom, giving them the power of justice and virtue. In the tradition, those were monarchs inspired by the Muses, worshiped by their people.

They said that the Muses dwelt in the Parnassus, which is a mount consecrated to Apollo, and they may also be found in the fountain Hippocrene in Beotia, in the sanctuary of Helicon.

There is a legend that tells that a king had 9 daughters, and these daughters were very proud of being good singers, so they traveled to Helicon and challenged the Muses.

The Muses accepted the challenge. The daughters of that king sang a song that raised the enthusiasm of the birds themselves, but the one sang by the Muses was even better, so they lost the challenge and were punished for their arrogance. They were turned into magpies, and since that moment only nasty squawk got out of their mouths, being the magpies one of the birds with the most nasty voice.

It is told that the Sirens also challenged the Muses, and their punishment was to loss the feathers of their wings and the Muses used them as ornaments.

In the ancient epic Greek stories, the Muses were invoked in the beginning of the book, to help the author to choose the correct words to tell the historical events.

The 9 Muses are:

  • Calliope, mother of Orpheus, and muse of poetry. She is depicted with a scroll or with a board an a chisel.
  • Clio is the muse of history. She is depicted with a scroll or with a chest full of books.
  • Erato is the muse of erotic poetry, that was depicted with a lyre.
  • Euterpe is the muse of music, and was depicted with a flute.
  • Melpomene is the muse of tragedy, and was depicted with a knife in one hand and a tragedy mask in the other.
  • Polyhymnia is the muse of sacred poetry and geometry. She appears depicted with a serious expression, and sometimes with her elbow laying in a column, and other times with a finger in her lips asking for silence.
  • Thalia is the muse of comedy and is depicted with happy expression in her face, and crowned with ivy, or with a comedian mask. As she is also the muse of bucolic poetry, sometimes she appears with a shepherd walking stick.
  • Terpsichore is the muse of dance and appears depicted with a string instrument like a lyre, and sometimes dancing.
  • Urania is the muse of astrology and astronomy, and is depicted with compasses or a world globe.
Images (in order): Terpsichore, by Thisisbossi; Melpomene, by Thisisbossi; Clio, by Thisisbossi.

-Emma Alvarez-

© 2008 by Emma Alvarez. Link to this post without copying the text.



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2 comments:

William Braylen said...

The Muses are, in Greek mythology, the goddesses or spirits who rouse us mortals to compose, shape and form. Find out about these antiquated gods who light that innovative sparkle within us and get the inventiveness juices streaming. One of the Muses

Admin said...

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