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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Muses

 According to Pausanias, who wrote in the later second century CE, there were originally three Muses, worshipped on Mount Helicon in Boeotia: Aoide ("song" or "tune"), Melete ("practice" or "occasion"), and Mneme ("memory").  The earliest known records of the Muses come from Boeotia and some ancient authorities point to Thrace as the origin of this myth.  

Writing in the first century BCE, Diodorus Siculus claims Homer and Hesiod state there are actually nine Muses, though.  According to Hesiod's account (c. 600 BCE), generally followed by most writers of antiquity, the Nine Muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (i.e., "Memory" personified), which represented personifications of knowledge and the arts, especially poetry, literature, dance and music.  Ironically, Hesiod says the Muses brought to people forgetfulness, that is, the forgetfulness of pain and the cessation of obligations, though.

For poet and "law-giver" Solon, the Muses were "the key to the good life", since they brought both prosperity and friendship. Solon sought to perpetuate his political reforms by establishing recitations of his poetry—complete with invocations to his practical-minded Muses—by Athenian boys at festivals each year. He believed that the Muses would help inspire people to do their best.

Distinguished ancient authors would invoke the Muses when writing poetry, hymns or epic history to comply with established poetic tradition.  Such invocations can be found in the works of Homer, Virgil, Catullus, and Ovid.

An example from Virgil's Aeneid:

O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate

What goddess was provok'd, and whence her hate

For what offense the Queen of Heav'n began

To persecute so brave, so just a man

—Virgil (c. 29 - 19 BCE), in Book I of the Aeneid 

Muse Roman from Cremna in present-day Turkey about 200 CE Marble gold that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California. These statues of the muses are among my favorites because of their softer features.

Muse Roman from Cremna in present-day Turkey about 200 CE Marble gold that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California. These statues of the muses are among my favorites because of their softer features.

Muse Euterpe Roman from Cremna in present-day Turkey about 200 CE Marble pigment and gold that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California.

Muse Euterpe Roman from Cremna in present-day Turkey about 200 CE Marble pigment and gold that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California.

Muse of love poetry or dance, Roman, from Cremna in present day Turkey 200 CE Marble pigment and gold that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California. These statues of the muses are among my favorites because of their softer features.

Muse of love poetry or dance, Roman, from Cremna in present day Turkey 200 CE Marble pigment and gold that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California. These statues of the muses are among my favorites because of their softer features.

Terpsichore, Muse of the dance. Marble, Roman artwork from the 2nd century CE. The head is ancient but does not belong to the body. From the Villa of Cassius near Tivoli, now in the collections of the Vatican Museums, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Marie-Lan Nguyen 

Part of a pavement mosaic with the bust of a muse. Roman artwork of the second half of 2nd - early 3rd century CE from the Villa dei Severi now at the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome, Italy courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Jean Pol Grandmont. 

Roman mosaic depicting the Muses dating between 2nd and 4th centuries CE, excavated at Antioch, Turkey, now in the collections of the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Daderot 

The fragmentary front of a large sarcophagus with a seated woman surrounded by Muses. The muse to the left is Terpsichore. She wears a chiton completely enveloped by a himation, and holds a lyre in her left hand. She turns toward a seated woman (probably the deceased) who wears a himation and whose foot rests on a foot-stool. She reaches to touch the strings of Terpsichore's lyre. Beside her is Thalia, wearing a close-fitting netlike garment with a mantle wrapped around her lower body. A bulla is around her neck and she wears open-toed shoes. In her left hand, she holds a lagobolon concealed by her cloak, and in her right, a comic mask. At the end, Euterpe holds the tibiae (pipes) with both hands. She wears a sleeved chiton trimmed with tassels at the hem. A short mantle is wrapped around her shoulders and tucked under her belt. To the right of Euterpe are the remains of a pillar. Courtesy of the Getty Villa

Clio the Roman Muse of History from Cremna in present-day Turkey about 200 CE Marble pigment and gold that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California.

Clio the Roman Muse of History from Cremna in present-day Turkey about 200 CE Marble pigment and gold that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California.

Clio the Roman Muse of History from Cremna in present-day Turkey about 200 CE Marble pigment and gold that I photographed at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California.

Urania (astronomy) 1, Euterpe (flutes and lyric poetry) 2, Polyhymnia (sacred poetry) 3, Erato (love poetry) 4 but name to other side of Kleio (Kleio In Greek mythology, Clio (traditionally /ˈklaɪoʊ/, but now more frequently /ˈkliːoʊ/; Greek: Κλειώ, Kleiṓ; "made famous" or "to make famous"), also spelled Kleio, is the muse of history, or in a few mythological accounts, the muse of lyre playing, 5, Terpsichore (dance) 6, Melpomene (tragedy) 7, Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry) 8. The ninth is not in this group, as she is Calliope who is shown in a frame of her own, handing a paper (“inspiration”?) to Hesiod. 2nd century CE Roman mosaic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Dick Osseman. 

The Muse Terpsichore, Roman statue based on an Attic model from 150–100 BCE found in the Villa Adriana in Tivoli, Italy, now in the collections of the Prado Museum, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor na Belén Cantero Paz. 

 

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