The Ancient Muse

The daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, whose name means 'memory' the Muses were believed to be the goddesses of creative inventiveness, poetic inspiration and memory. Hence Homer's immortal lines "Sing O Muse of the wrath of Pelleus' son of Achilles" and "Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways.." (The Illiad and The Odyssey, respectively.) Socrates revered them. The lines, 'come now, ye muses called Ligaean &come help me in the tale my kind friend here is forcing me to tell" in the Phaedrus, provide us with a clue as to what Socrates deemed to be the source of inspiration.

"The Muses were for long merged into an indissoluble choir which presided over music and poetry in general. It was only later that a special province was assigned to each.


Clio thus became the Muse of History. Her attribute were the heroic trumpet and the clepsydra

Euterpe presided over the flute playing and her attribute was the flute.

Thalia, who was at first considered a bucolic Muse, became the Muse of Comedy. In her hand she carried a shepherd's staff and a comic mask.

Melpomene was the Muse of Tragedy. Her attributes were the tragic mask and also the club of Hercules

Terpsichore, whose attribute was the cithara, was the Muse of Lyric Poetry and of the Dance.

Erato was the Muse of Love Poetry.

Polyhymnia, after having been the Muse of Heroic hymns, became the Muse of Mimic Art. She was represented in an attitude of meditation with a finger in her mouth.

Urania was the Muse of Astronomy and her attributes were the celestial globe and a compass

Calliope, who was the first in rank among her sisters, was considered in turn to be the Muse of Epic Poetry and Eloquence. Her attributes were the stylus and tablets."

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