21 April 2023

What are the muses? – Discover the origin of the muses of mythology

By Donald

the muses are powerful divinitieswhich are credited with inspiring creativity, art, poetry, music, knowledge and any form of artistic expression.

There are various muses such as Primitives and those of DelphiHowever, the most recognized are the canonical ones. According to Greek mythology, which is full of history of gods and demigods, the canonical muses are daughters of one of the god Zeus and the Titanide Mnemosyne, they are part of the retinue of the deity of the arts, Apollo, who became romantically involved with several of them, leaving descendants.

These are often described as beautiful women, who live on Olympus, wearing transparent robes, carrying different instruments. Poets, artists, and musicians of ancient Greece prayed to the muses hoping for inspiration.

Definition and concept of the muses in mythology

The word muse derives from the Latin “Musae” which refers to the minor divinities, who inspire art and preserve memory. This word in turn derives from the Greek “Mouse” which translates into Spanish as a song or poem.

According to Greek mythology, the muses are the offspring of Zeus, God of the sky and thunder, with the Titanide Mnemóside, who was the personification of memory.

There are various sources that differ in the number of extant muses, as well as who descended from them. Some of these suggest that they are daughters of Zeus and Plusia, mentioning 4 muses descended from these, as well as other sources affirm that they are heirs of Piero, in this one name 7 of them.

However, the most recognized are daughters of Zeus and Mnemosidefrom which 9 muses descend, these are the representation of all artistic expression on Olympus, they play an important role in the growth of the art of ancient Greece.

The muses served as inspiration for poets, artists and musicians, who asked for their blessings to complete their works. However, with the growth of Christianity In the Middle Ages, the cult of the Muses and all related deities declined due to persecution and punishments imposed.

What is the origin of the muses?

Various sources affirm that the muses were Piero’s daughters and a nymph called Pimplea, as well as other versions in which they were daughters of Apollo, Zeus and Moneta, Zeus and Plusia or Ether and Gaea. However, the best known story is that of Zeus and Mnemosyne.

Before the time when Hera was the wife of Zeus, this took the form of a shepherd, in order to ingratiate himself with Mnemosyne, who was the daughter of Gea and Urano. Zeus seduced her and spent 9 nights with her.

Some time later, Mnemosyne gave birth to 9 daughters, the muses, each of whom is granted an ability in a specific domain of the artsthus becoming the goddesses of each of their areas.

What do the muses represent?

The muses symbolize the arts and inspirationin the case of the canonical muses, each of the 9 muses refers to a part of the art, for example:

  • calliope: She is the muse of epic poetry, eloquence and beauty.
  • Clio: She is the muse of history.
  • Age: Muse of love poetry, love songs and marriage.
  • Eutherpe: She is the muse of music, an expert with the flute that delights those who listen to her songs.
  • Melpomene: At first she was one of the muses of the theater (singing and musical harmony) later she became the representative muse of tragedy, as it is recognized today.
  • Polyhymnia: She is the muse of sacred poetry and sacred songs (Hymns)
  • Talia: It is distinguished as the muse of comedy and pastoral or bucolic poetry.
  • Terpsichore: She differentiates herself as the muse of dance.
  • Urania: Also known as the muse of astronomy.

However, the literature mentions others, such as the primitive Muses, who were daughters of Ether and Gaiawhere Meletea or muse of meditation, Mnemea or muse of memory and three more are found.

Just as those of Delphi are also mentioned, daughters of apollowhich represented the strings of the lyre, Nete is the muse of the first string, Mese who is the muse of the middle string and Hipate or muse of the upper string.

How many are the canonical muses?

According to the literature of Greek mythology, in ancient Greece 9 canonical muses are consideredall these daughters of the God Zeus and Mnemosyne, the Titaness, who spent 9 nights together, and some time later are conceived, it is said that in order from oldest to youngest they were:

  • calliope: She is the largest of all of them, her name derives from the ancient Greek Kalliópê, which means the one with the beautiful voice, wife of Eagro, lover of Apollo, mother of Orpheus, Reso and Lalemo.
  • Clio: Its name comes from the Greek Kleiô, which translates to praise or sing, as the muse of history, she was in charge of keeping triumphs and generous acts alive. She had a son with Piero, Jacinto, who was king of Macedonia.
  • Age: Her name, according to etymology, comes from the Greek Eratố, which means kind or loving, together with Apollo she conceives a son whom they call Tamiris. This is known in history for being Jacinto’s lover, he being the first man to have relations with another man.
  • Eutherpe: The meaning of her name comes from ancient Greek, which translates as pleasant genius or very pleasant, although some sources claim that she invented the Aulos (double flute), most studies attribute this act to the Goddess. of the war, Athena.
  • Melpomene: Her name is translated from the Greek Μελπομένη, into Spanish, as the melodious one, a myth that arises around her is that she enjoyed all the wealth, beauty and men that a woman could have. However, despite having so much, she could not be satisfied, representing in this way the true drama of life, having everything will not make you happy.
  • Polyhymnia: Whose name derives from the Greek Polymnía, which means, that of many hymns, according to some traditions, the lyre, harmony and agriculture are attributed to her.
  • Talia: This name derives from the ancient Greek Θάλεια which translates into Spanish as Blooming, it appeared at festivities and banquets, granting gifts of abundance. According to the stories of Apolodoro, Talía and Apolo are the parents of the coribantes, who are a group of dancers with a helmet, who celebrate the cult of the Goddess Cibeles.
  • Terpsichore: It is believed that together with Acheloo (God of the river) they conceived the mermaids, their name derives from the Greek Terpsichore, which means the one who delights in the dance.
  • Urania: She is the least of all the muses, her name translates from the ancient Greek Οὐρανία to celestial, although she is best known as the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne, she is mentioned in some sources as a descendant of Uranus and Gaia. Her name has been of significance to multiple astronomical observatories in Berlin, Vienna, Zurich. Also, various groups of amateur astronomy today have been named after her.

How are the muses represented?

The canonical muses are represented by different objects related to his ability:

  • calliope: This muse is personified with a laurel wreath and a lyre in her hands.
  • Clio: With a book and a trumpet
  • Age: Crowned with roses and myrtle, carrying a zither. She can also be seen accompanied by Eros, God of love.
  • Eutherpe: With a flower crown, holding the double piccolo in his hands, sometimes other instruments such as guitars, drums, violins.
  • Melpomene: With rich garments and a tragic mask in his hand.
  • Polyhymnia: She is represented in her entirety dressed in white, resting on a pedestal with a thinking attitude.
  • Talia: A young man with a mocking and smiling look, with an ivy crown, which symbolizes immortality, can be seen with a comic mask in his hands.
  • Urania: He is personified with blue garments, a diadem of stars, a globe and a compass in his hands.

What is the use of invoking the muses?

During ancient Greece, the muses they were invoked when reciting the story of a story or a poem, thus serving as inspiration and help to the author or speaker.

In its origins the invocation of the muses indicated that the person he respected the poetic tradition. Currently, the muses continue to inspire a large number of artists, writers and musicians, as can be seen in multiple films and books of popular culture.