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The Nine Muses – Greek Goddesses of the Arts and Sciences
The Nine Muses were minor goddesses of Greek mythology, who were closely linked to the arts and sciences. They guided and inspired mortals in their creation of literature, music, drama and other artistic and scientfic ventures. The Muses rarely featured in any major myths of their own, but they were often invoked and remained among the most important of the Greek pantheon of deities.
Hesiod’s encounter with the Nine Muses
Aside from being known as a great poet, Hesiod was also a farmer or shepherd in the Boeotian region of ancient Greece. The generally accepted story is that Hesiod once had an encounter with the Nine Muses in Greek mythology. Ancient Greeks believed that the Muses were offspring of Mnemosyne (Memory) and Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods. The Nine Muses were believed to appear to artisans and scholars in dire need of inspiration. This explains why ancient Greek poets often called on them whenever starting a poem.
Five Ages of Man |Image: Hesiod and the Muse (1891), by Gustave Moreau shows the ancient Greek poet presented with a lyre. However, in Hesiod’s account the Muses presented him a laurel staff.
Where Did the Nine Muses Live?
As for the abode of the Muses, Hesiod mentions that they live on Mount Olympus . Nevertheless, one of their favorite haunts was Mount Helicon, as evident in the first lines of his Theogony, “From the Muses of Helicon let us begin our singing, that haunt Helicon’s great and holy mountain, and dance on their soft feet round the violet-dark spring and the altar of the mighty son of Kronos”.
Helicon is a mountain located in Boeotia, between Lake Kopais and the Gulf of Corinth. According to scholars, Hesiod’s father was from Cyme, an Aeolian city on the coast of Asia Minor, but relocated to Ascra, a village on the eastern side of Mount Helicon.
Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helicon. (Hohum / Public Domain )
It seems that it was here that Hesiod was born and raised, and hence not entirely surprising that he chose the mountain as the home of the Muses. At any rate, many later writers followed Hesiod’s example.
As mentioned earlier, the Muses had an important role in Classical mythology, serving as the patron goddesses of the various arts. It was from the Muses that the artists of ancient Greece and Rome received their inspiration. This is clearly reflected by Hesiod, who claimed that he was taught to sing by the Muses themselves,
“And once they (the Muses) taught Hesiod fine singing, as he tended his lambs below holy Helicon…. So said mighty Zeus’ daughters, the sure of utterance, and they gave me a branch of springing bay to pluck for a staff, a handsome one, and they breathed into me wondrous voice, so that I should celebrate things of the future and things that were aforetime. And they told me to sing of the family of blessed ones who are forever, and first and last always to sing of themselves.”
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.
Greek Mythology, the Muses
Sister Goddesses, The Muses, were in charge of the world of Literature, Art, and Society. The Nine Daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne they gave inspiration to artist, writers and other artistically gifted people. “The Nine Muses have been inspiring artists since the antiquity and there countless paintings, drawings, designs, poems and statues dedicated to them. All artists of the Renaissance acknowledged their importance in artistic creation, dedicating their works to the Muses. ” The number of Muses varies over time.
At first only one Muse was spoken of but later poets mention three: Melete (Practice, Study), Mneme (Memory), and Aoede (Song).
They were nymphs in Pieria, which is found in western Thrace, and their cult was brought to Mount Helicon in Boeotia by the Aloads. Eventually it became accepted that there were nine muses: Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania. The Muse Clio discovered history and guitar. History was named Clio in the ancient years, because it refers to “Kleos” the Greek word for the heroic acts.
“ Writer-marian did a very good job with my paper, she got straight to the point, she made it clear and organized ”
Clio was always represented with a clarion in the right arm and a book in the left hand. Muse Euterpe discovered several musical instruments, courses and dialectic. She was always depicted holding a flute, while many instruments were always around her. Muse Thalia was the protector of comedy she discovered comedy, geometry, architectural science and agriculture. She was also protector of Symposiums. She was always depicted holding a theatrical – comedy mask. Opposite from Thalia, Muse Melpomene was the protector of Tragedy she invented tragedy, rhetoric speech and Melos.
She was depicted holding a tragedy mask and usually bearing a bat. Terpsichore was the protector of dance she invented dances, the harp and education. She was called Terpsichore because she was enjoying and having fun with dancing ( “Terpo” in Greek refers to be amused). She was depicted wearing laurels on her head, holding a harp and dancing. Muse Erato was the protector of Love and Love Poetry – as well as wedding. Her name comes from the Greek word “Eros” that refers to the feeling of falling in love.
She was depicted holding a lyre and love arrows and bows. Muse Polymnia was the protector of the divine hymns and mimic art she invented geometry and grammar. She was depicted looking up to the Sky, holding a lyre. Muse Ourania was the protector of the celestial objects and stars she invented astronomy. She was always depicted bearing stars, a celestial sphere and a bow compass. Muse Calliope was the superior Muse. She was accompanying kings and princes in order to impose justice and serenity. She was the protector of heroic poems and rhetoric art.
According to the myth, Homer asks from Calliope to inspire him while writing Iliad and Odyssey, and, thus, Calliope is depicted holding laurels in one hand and the two Homeric poems in the other hand. The ancient writer Hesiod said of them, “They are all of one mind, their hearts are set upon song and their spirit is free from care. He is happy whom the Muses love. For though a man has sorrow and grief in his soul, yet when the servant of the Muses sings, at once he forgets his dark thoughts and remembers not his troubles.
Such is the holy gift of the Muses to men. “ The Myth “[The Muses] are all of one mind, their hearts are set upon song and their spirit is free from care. He is happy whom the Muses love. For though a man has sorrow and grief in his soul, yet when the servant of the Muses sings, at once he forgets his dark thoughts and remembers not his troubles. Such is the holy gift of the Muses to men. ”
 Ancient Greek legend tells us that Pegasus often wandered, stopping to rest on Mt. Olympus.
One day, when his hoofs touched the ground on Mount Helicon, four sacred springs of water formed and from these springs the Muses (goddesses of inspiration) were born. The Muses were the nine beautiful chosen goddesses that reigned over the liberal arts and sciences, especially music, poetry, and all of the visual arts. Athena caught and tamed the wild Pegasus and kindly presented him to the Muses. One day the muses began to sing on Mt. Helicon. The mountain, so filled with ecstasy, it rose to the heavens until Pegasus, under Poseidon’s command, kicked his hoof, stopping the mountain’s upward progress.
A fountain of water gushed forth called the Fountain of Hippocrene. The fountain was sacred to the Muses and is believed to be the source of music and poetic inspiration. According to legend, the birth of both wine and art occurred when Pegasus’ hooves unleashed the sacred spring of the Muses.  Norn’s  The Goddesses of Destiny In Norse mythology, the Norn’s are the demi-goddesses of destiny. They control the destinies of both gods and men, as well as the unchanging laws of the cosmos.
They are represented as three sisters: Urd (“fate”), Verdandi (“necessity”) and Skuld (“being”). They live at the base of the World Tree Yggdrasil in the realm of Asgard. Nothing lasts forever, and even the mighty Yggdrasil is subject to decay. The Norn’s try to stop this process, or at least slow it down, by pouring mud and water from the Well of Fate over its branches. This magical liquid stops the rotting process for the time being. In other myths, the Norn’s were thought to give assistance at birth, and that each person has his own personal Norn. 
The prefix 𠇎lder” is commonly used to distinguish the three, or four, Boeotian Muses, from a second set, the Younger Muses or Olympian Muses.
The Younger Muses are arguably more famous than the Elder Muses because they are the beautiful female deities talked of by Hesiod. Indeed, the opening section of the Theogony is dedicated to the goddesses. Hesiod would write of the visitation of the Muses to him, whilst he was working as a shepherd upon Mount Helicon, with the Younger Muses inspiring him to write. Hesiod claimed the information needed for the genealogy of the gods came direct from the Muses.
Hesiod named the nine Younger Muses as Calliope (Beautiful voice), Clio (Celebrate), Erato (Beloved), Euterpe (Giving Much Delight), Melpomene (Celebrate with Song), Polyhymnia (Many Hymns), Terischore (Delighting in Dance), Thalia (Blooming), and Urania (Heavenly One).
These nine sisters were said to be the daughters of Zeus and the Titanide Mnemosyne the god of Mount Olympus sleeping with Mnemosyne on nine consecutive nights.
Writers after Hesiod would ascribe individual roles to the Younger Muses to cover all elements of science and arts. Thus, Calliope became the Muse of epic poetry Clio, the Muse of history Erato the Muse of erotic poetry Euterpe, the Muse of lyric poetry Melpomene, the Muse of tragedy Polyhymnia, the muse of sublime hymns Terischore, the Muse of choral song and dance Thalia, the Muse of comedy and Urania, the Muse of astronomy.
I received my BA from St. John’s College in Annapolis, the only school in the country, I tell my students, where Ancient Greek is required. That may not be strictly accurate, but I’m sure it’s the only school where Ptolemy’s Almagest is required reading. I then received my MA and PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, branding me forever as a “Great Books” sort of person and destining me for the Core. My first book, God and the Land: the Metaphysics of Farming in Hesiod and Vergil was published by Oxford University Press and my various articles range from a study of Hesiod’s treatment of farming, to an interest in the relation of poetry and philosophy in Plato, to studies of narrative time, to a look at T. E. Lawrence’s translation of the Odyssey, Shelley’s translation of the Symposium, and translation generally, considering the role of translation in the 20th c. in The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, vol. 5. In Aristophanes’ Tragic Muse: tragedy, comedy, and the polis in Classical Athens I looked at the relation of comedy and tragedy in Athens and my most recent work, “Or am I now I?”: Time and Identity in Ulysses and the Odyssey is on the relation of Joyce and Homer, which is, surprisingly, very little studied, beginning with an unfortunate comment of Ezra Pound’s that the Odyssey is merely “scaffolding” for Ulysses. Pound was a great poet, but he could be wrong about things.
What draws all these together, I suppose, is my interest in the way one author, culture, genre – or translator – appropriates another, transforming, distorting, and in a way repudiating the original, but also acknowledging a deep and even formative debt. So, I think, Virgil to Hesiod, Greek comedy to tragedy, and James Joyce to Homer. I have also become very interested in time and change generally and am now working on the relation of sight and sound, eye and ear, the simultaneous and that which exists only over time as we see the two in oral literature, in print and in the open and fluid new media developing around us constantly. I guess my belief is that having been forced to master Zoom, I can now master anything.
Greek and Roman epic, Hesiod, Greek comedy and tragedy, intertextuality, translation, and Classical reception, particularly Joyce
Affiliated Faculty, MFA in Literary Translation, Boston University, 2019-present
Assistant Dean and Director, Core Curriculum, Boston University, 2012-2019
Associate Professor, Boston University, 2008-present
Assistant Professor, Boston University, 1999-2008
Instructor, Core Curriculum, Boston University, 1995 – 1999
lnstructor, Department of Philosophy, Saint Xavier University (Chicago) 1991 – 1995
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Valparaiso University, 1992 – 1994
“Or am I now I?”: Time and Identity in Ulysses and the Odyssey (under consideration by University of Florida)
Aristophanes’ Tragic Muse: Tragedy, Comedy, and the Polis in Classical Athens (Brill, 2016)
Hesiod’s Works and Days, translation with commentary (Focus Press, 2008)
God and the Land: The Metaphysics of Farming in Hesiod and Vergil (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998)
Book Chapters and Articles
“The Voice of the Shuttle: the Tereus Myth in Aristophanes’ Birds” in Tereus through the Ages. Reassembling the Myth of Tereus from Archaic Epic to Ovid, eds. Giacomo Savani, Alessandra Abbattista, Chiara Blanco and Maria Haley (De Gruyter, in progress)
“Pursuing the Forms in Plato’s Symposium and Republic” in Equality and Excellence in Ancient and Modern Political Philosophy, eds. Steven Frankel and John Ray (Penn State University Press, in progress)
“Acharnians: Tragedy and Other Literary Genres” in Blackwell Companion to Aristophanes, eds. Matthew Farmer and Jeremy Lefkowitz (Wiley-Blackwell, in progress)
“The Essay Topics of FW 2.2” in Finnegans Wake II.II: Nightlessons, eds. Vicki Mahaffey, Yaeli Greenblatt, and Shinjini Chattopadhyay (Brill, in progress)
“Bullockbefriending Bards: the ambivalent role of cattle in the Odyssey and Ulysses” in Joyce and the Non-Human, eds. Michelle Witen and Katherine Ebury (James Joyce Quarterly special edition, forthcoming Fall/Winter 2020-21)
“Narrative Time” with Barry Spence in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literary Theory, ed. Ian Richards-Karamarkovich (Oxford University Press, online, 2020 https://oxfordre.com/literature/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190201098.001.0001/acrefore-9780190201098-e-1076)
“Classics in Translation” in The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, Vol. 5: 1880–2000, ed. Kenneth Haynes (Oxford University Press, 2019)
“Between Being and Becoming: Comedy, Tragedy and the Symposium,” in Thinking the Greeks: A Volume in Honor of James M. Redfield, eds. Lillian Doherty and Bruce M. King (Routledge, 2018)
“Hesiod and the Georgic Tradition,” in The Oxford Handbook of Hesiod, eds. Alexander Loney and Stephen Scully (Oxford University Press, 2018)
“Telling Time: Techniques of Narrative Time in Ulysses and the Odyssey,” in Reading Joycean Temporalities, ed. Jolanta Wawrzycka, (Brill, 2018)
“Time and Memory in the Odyssey and Ulysses,” in Time and Trace, eds. Steven Ostovich and Sabine Gross (Brill, 2016)
“Aristophanes and the Polis,” in The Political Theory of Aristophanes: Rethinking the Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy, eds. Jeremy Mhire and Brian-Paul Frost (SUNY, 2014)
Various Entries: The Virgil Encyclopedia, eds. Richard Thomas, Jan Ziolkowski (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013)
“Shelley and Plato’s Symposium: the poet’s revenge,” International Journal of the Classical Tradition 14 (2007) 100-29
“Cinematographic Joyce:” Joyce Workshop, 2006,” James Joyce Literary Supplement, 21.1, May 2007
“Hesiod” in A Companion to Ancient Epic, ed. John Miles Foley (Blackwell, 2005)
“Lawrence’s Odyssey: A “Prosaic” Approach to Greatness” with Maren Cohn, in The Waking Dream of T. E. Lawrence: Essays on His Life, Literature, and Legacy ed. Charles Stang (New York: Palgrave, 2002)
“Full Circle: The Inherent Tension in Ethics from Plato to Plato” in Instilling Ethics, ed. Norma Thompson (Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000)
“Calypso’s Choice: Immortality and Heroic Striving in the Odyssey and Ulysses” in Literary Imagination, Ancient and Modern, ed. Todd Breyfogle (University of Chicago Press, 1999)
“Justice and Farming in the Works and Days” in The Greeks and Us: Essays in Honor of Arthur Adkins, eds. Robert B. Louden and Paul Schollmeier (University of Chicago Press, 1996)
“The Justice of Zeus in Hesiod’s Fable of the Hawk and the Nightingale.” The Classical Journal 92 (1997) 235-247
“The Drama of Hesiod’s Farm” Classical Philology 91 (1996) 45-53
Hesiod and the Muse - History
The Idea of the Muse in Hesiod and Homer
The custom of appealing to the muses at the outset of a work is a curious one by today's standards very few modern authors feel the need to ask a metaphysical being to help them write. It is important to understand why the Greek chose to ask for guidance from the muses, but it is also important to realize the underlying implications of such an appeal. In The Odyssey by Homer and Theogony by Hesiod we see an intriguing dichotomy begin to emerge, one marked by a clear distinction between masculinity and femininity. Hesiod and Homer's respective appeals are quite different, and this discrepancy echoes the difference between The Odyssey and Theogony in general.
To refer to Hesiod's call to the muses as an appeal is correct, but also misleading. It is indeed a request for assistance in the story he wishes to tell, but it goes far beyond that, drifting in and out of a history of the muses themselves, just as Hesiod will later discuss his personal history. The appeal to the muses, like his works themselves, have a peculiar feeling not of poetry removed from the course of history but rather as an intricate exposition of all things, grand and small, extraordinary and quotidian, reveling in their beauty and power, but at the same time respecting them. His talk of his family echoes this as well although he is primarily concerned with the Gods, he is not oblivious to the everyday struggle of those around him. Hesiod's appeal to the muses is extensive, and detail-oriented, and he does not ask for help but once, a good deal into the work: "Farewell now, children of Zeus, and grant me delightful singing." He is clearly beneath the Gods, and h!
is prose shows this he uses many phrases to express his inferiority to them, referring to the muses as "utterly beautiful," "for ever," "mighty," and other superlatives which demonstrate that he is below them, and in need of their help. In the work of Homer, w.
Calliope and her Sisters
Calliope was one of the nine Muses, Mousai in Greek. These sister goddesses were the sources of inspiration and knowledge for artists, historians, and writers.
The Muses were depicted as nine beautiful young women, each with an attribute that corresponded to a type of work they inspired.
The earliest Muses were said to be water nymphs who lived near the wells that gave inspiration. Eventually their mythology grew until they became an independent class of goddesses.
At this time, there were probably only three Muses deities in Greek mythology often appeared in groups of three. Over time, though, the triple goddesses were tripled for a total of nine.
It is thought that the idea of nine Muses, as opposed to a variety of nymphs, began in the region of Boeotia. This was the homeland of Hesiod, one of the oldest writers whose works survive, so the Muses are well-documented from the earliest days of written mythology.
The Muses continued to be associated with water long after they stopped being thought of as nymphs. Mount Helicon, also in Boeotia, was said to be their home and the springs there flowed with the waters of inspiration.
There was no consensus among the Greeks as to the parentage of the Muses.
Some accounts said that they were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory). Others said they were the children of Apollo, while some writers said they were primeval daughters of Gaia and Uranus.
Early in Greek history, the Muses worked collectively. Later they were each assigned a different area of influence.
Calliope was particularly important to ancient poets. She was the Muse who inspired their work.
The Muse of Song and Poetry
Calliope was the muse of epic poetry who gave inspiration to writers and singers.
The Greek myths existed long before they were written down. Before the 8th century BC, all the mythology of the area was passed on through oral tradition.
Even after poets like Hesiod and Homer began to record the legends, they were not read or recited for audiences. They were sung.
For hundreds, if not thousands, of years, singing had been the primary way of passing on the stories of the gods. Bards trained for years to memorize the songs that told the illiterate populace important stories while also entertaining them.
Playing music along with the stories helped to make them more memorable, both to those who shared them and to the listeners. When Hesiod and Homer wrote their works, they wrote in poetic verse so that the stories could be set to music.
The works of the great poets were added to the repertoires of the many travelling singers and court bards whose job it was to tell the stories of their religion and history.
Thus, Calliope did not just inspire written words. She inspired the songs that the stories were set to as well.
Her name, in fact, reflected the tradition of oral history. Calliope comes from the Greek words kallos and ops, meaning “beautiful voice.”
While Calliope was said to inspire the poets, she also appeared in their works. Often these were hymns of praise to the goddess of poetic inspiration, but sometimes the stories themselves were about Calliope and her family.
The most famous story of Calliope is the one regarding her legendary son, Orpheus.
While many of the Muses were virgin goddesses, Calliope was married. Her husband was King Oeagrus of Thrace.
The Thracian king was a follower of Dionysus who, according to Nonnus, joined that god’s war in India when their son was still an infant. He was described as a skilled harpist and expert at archery.
She was said to have had at least two sons with Oeagrus, although some sources claimed that the god Apollo was their father instead. Both the king of Thrace and the god of light were archers and musicians.
Her son Linus was said to have been the first to transfer Phoenician letters to Greek and to have been the first leader of lyric songs.
Orpheus, however, was her most famous child.
He was said to have been the greatest poet and musician to ever live. His music was so powerful that it could cause the rocks and trees to dance, hold vicious beasts in sway, and even charm Hades.
The legendary Orpheus travelled with the Argonauts and playing his harp so wonderfully that it drowned out the dangerous song of the Sirens. He was a devoted followed of Apollo and, as such, was given the gift of prophecy.
The most famous story of the musician, however, was his descent into the underworld. When his beloved wife Eurydice was killed on their wedding day, Orpheus travelled to the land of the dead in an attempt to bring her back.
He was nearly successful. His music was so powerful that Hades agreed to release Eurydice as long as Orpheus could lead her out of the underworld without looking back at her.
As Orpheus stepped through the gates to Hades’ realm and back into the world of the living, he turned around to celebrate his victory. Eurydice, however, had not yet stepped through the gate.
Because he looked at Eurydice before she had left the land of the dead, Orpheus lost his wife forever.
As the son of the goddess of epic poetry, Orpheus was said to be a prolific writer in addition to being a skilled musician. The hymns attributed to him often discuss the secrets he learned during his trip to the underworld.
The story of Calliope’s son, however, ended tragically.
After losing his wife, Orpheus turned his back on all the gods except Apollo. He had once been a companion of Dionysus, but the death of Eurydice had been the end of his enjoyment of the god’s hedonistic ways.
Angry that he had turned his back on Dionysus, a group of Maenads attacked Orpheus one morning.
They began by throwing sticks and rocks at him, but the poet was so beloved that the things they threw refused to hit him. Finally, the Maenads ripped the great musician to shreds with their bare hands.
According to legend, his head and lyre continued to make music as they floated downriver and into the sea. They eventually landed on the island of Lesbos, where the disembodied head of Orpheus continued to give Apollo’s prophecies for many years.
Roman poets claimed that the Muses gathered the pieces of their nephew’s body for burial. They placed his lyre in the stars as a constellation, a memorial Zeus readily agreed to in honor of the many hymns Orpheus had written in his honor.
Some writers imagined the pain Calliope felt over the death of her son. In one story, Calliope spoke to Thetis after the other goddess’s son was killed in the Trojan War:
From lamentation, Thetis, now forbear, and do not, in the frenzy of thy grief for thy lost son, provoke to wrath the Lord of Gods and men. … Immortal though I be, mine own son Orpheus died, whose magic song drew all the forest-trees to follow him, and every craggy rock and river-stream, and blasts of winds shrill-piping stormy-breathed, and birds that dart through air on rushing wings. Yet I endured mine heavy sorrow: Gods ought not with anguished grief to vex their souls. Therefore make end of sorrow-stricken wail for thy brave child for to the sons of earth minstrels shall chant his glory and his might, by mine and by my sisters’ inspiration, unto the end of time.
-Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 3. 631 ff (trans. Way)
Calliope offered Thetis a bit of hope that although her son had died he would not be forgotten. By inspiring great works in his honor, she and her sisters would ensure that the heroes of the age were remembered forever.