The Muses were the Greek goddesses of inspiration in literature, science and the arts.
Before the Classical idea of the nine Muses, Pausanias tells us of three Muses, different altogether from the nine we know. They were: Melete, or Practice. Mneme, or Memory and Aeode, or Song
It was only later, with Hesiod that the idea of Nine Muses showed up.
Μnemosyne gave the babies to Nymph Eufime and Apollo (God of Light, Eloquence, Poetry and Fine Arts). When they grew up they showed their tendency to the arts, taught by God Apollo himself.
Apollo brought them to the big and beautiful Mount Elikonas, where the older Temple of Zeus used to be. Ever since, the Muses supported and encouraged creation, enhancing imagination and inspiration of the artists.
There were nine Muses according to Hesiod, protecting a different art and being symbolised with a different element; Calliope (epic poetry – symbol: writing tablet), Clio (history – symbol: scroll. The myth tells that she introduced the Phoenician alphabet to Greece), Erato (love poetry – symbol: cithara, a Greek type of lyre), Euterpe (lyric poetry – symbol: aulos, a Greek flute), Melpomene (tragedy – symbol: tragic mask), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry – symbol: veil), Terpsichore (dance – symbol: lyre), Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry – symbol: comic mask), and Urania (astronomy – symbols: globe and compass).
All the Hesiodic names are significant; thus Calliope means “She of the Beautiful Voice”, Clio the “Proclaimer”, Erato the “Lovely”, Euterpe the “Well Pleasing”, Melpomene the “Songstress”, Polymnia “She of the Many Hymns”, Thalia the “Blooming”, Terpsichore “Delighting in the Dance”, and Urania the “Heavenly”.
Hesiod also states that the Muses were created as an aid to forgetfulness and relief from troubles, perhaps as a balance to their mother, who personified memory.
“Mnemosyne (Memory), who reigns over the hills of Eleuther, bear of union with the father, the son of Cronos, a forgetting of ills and a rest from sorrow. For nine nights did wise Zeus lie with her, entering her holy bed remote from the immortals. And when a year was passed and the seasons came round as the months waned, and many days were accomplished, she bare nine daughters, all of one mind, whose hearts are set upon song and their spirit free from care, a little way from the topmost peak of snowy Olympus”. Hesiod´s Theogony. (ll. 53-74).
The Muses probably were originally the patron goddesses of poets, although later their range was extended to include all liberal arts and sciences—hence, their connection with such institutions as the Museum.
Although bringers of festivity and joy, the Muses were not to be trifled with when it came to the superiority of their artistic talents. The nine daughters of Pierus foolishly tried to compete musically with the Muses on Mt. Helicon and were all turned into birds for their impertinence. The Thracian musician Thamyres (son of the Nymph Agriope) was another who challenged the Muses in music and after inevitably coming second best to the goddesses was punished with blindness, the loss of his musical talent, and his singing voice.
►Further appearances of certain Muses:
Calliope was called on by Zeus to arbitrate the dispute between Aphrodite, the goddess of Love and Beauty, and Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, when both fell in love with the handsome Adonis. As a result of her decision, Adonis was to spend one-third of every year with each goddess and the last third wherever he chose. Thus he decided to spend two-thirds of the year with Aphrodite.
The young colt, excited to meet the lovely Muses, kicked the side of the Mountain, causing springs to gush out of the side of the mountain. Springs and wells both became sacred symbols of the Muses, representing the fountains of inspiration that they provided.
Urania took the major responsibility for caring for Pegasus, and prophesied his future heroism as well as his eventual place amongst the stars in the heavens. She also suffered a lot when Bellerophontes, a mythical hero, took Pegasus away.
►Gallery: “The Muses”:
►“Erato, the Greco-Muse of Love Poetry:
Human-seraph hybrid embodiment
of love poetry plucking your cithara
under Grecian golden globe.
Sea salted air beckons all who catch
a wisp, a glimpse of your grand
pulchritude pulsating with scents
of slight oregano and plentiful jasmine.
The lightly brisked
breezes tease your deep
mahogany tresses making
them dance a slow motion susta.
Your irises possess
emeralds—the green this land
lacks. A black ink-tipped quill
rests behind your left ear.
With a sharp-edged stone
you carve into a tablet
in archaic Greek:
“A love star-crossed is merely a love
out of this world, of outer space,
blessed by the Gods,
that society is envious of”.
Urania tends to disagree
for the stars and planets see all.
Both seize the fates of all.
©Eva Xanthopoulos (Eva PoeteX). 2016 .-
*Previously published in Harbinger Asylum Poetry Magazine.
►About Eva Xanthopoulos (Eva PoeteX):
Eva Xanthopoulos (pen-name Eva PoeteX) is a prolific Greco-American Author, Poet, and Artist who creates and dwells in the Greater Cleveland area. To date, hundreds of her writings have been featured in various publications, including The Golden Lantern, Mystic Living Today, Journey of the Heart, The Journey Magazine, and more. Eva has also collaborated with a multitude of musicians worldwide like Grant Wish, Audiosapian, Electrosurrogate, and Replicant Core.
Currently, Eva is the Founding Editor of Poehemian Press and the Co-Creator of the self-development website Etheric Archives. Additionally, she is the author of several books, including Esoterra and the Sought After Blood Lines Fantasy Series. Eva has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Cleveland State University.
When she’s not writing, Eva loves to read her weight in books (while sipping rooibos chai tea), go on epic adventures with her bike, and practice Yoga Nidra. To find out more, visit her website.
~~Thanks so much for being here as a guest author/ poet, dear Eva~~
►Blurb:”The Escapist” (“Sought After Blood Lines”).Book by Eva Xanthopoulos:
“While the town´s people of Eternicca find Vyvianna’s heart of gold to be both endearing and noble, she deems it to be her ultimate curse and is determined to rid herself of it no matter what the cost. Hailing from a lineage touched by a rare form of magick in a barricaded kingdom where all-things magickal are met with torment and wrath, she must keep her secret tucked away forevermore. Will she be able to mask her inner glisten or will it inevitably shine through and expose her to the cunning, ever-ruthless King Zollamedes? And no matter how many challenges transpire, will Vyvianna’s heart keep its golden reputation or will her ribcage soon become the home of an obsidian core, succumbing to a ruthlessness only tyrants should wield?”…