Roulette Checkmate

The Muses, Goddesses of Inspiration in the Arts and Sciences

The name ‘μουσ̃α’ is an Indo-European word from ‘5. mē-, mō-, mə-‘, ‘to be intent; of strong will’ and ‘sā-, sə-‘, ‘enough, satiate, sufficient’. In the first line of the Odyssey the word ‘μου̂σα’ appears. Originally the word seems to have been singular. The first word of the Theogony is ‘μουσάων. Here the Muses are plural. Hesiod even names them in the Theogony line 75. Though the Muses are not assigned to fields of endeavor, the names are suggestive. The Greek word ‘Mousa’ is listed as the root of the English word ‘music’.

A Muse with a lyre
Muse with Lyre


Muses: (Presided over the arts and sciences and inspired those who excelled
in these pursuits).

  • Calliope — Καλλιόπη– ‘Beautiful voiced’ from Indo-European ‘kal-2’, ‘beautiful and ‘wekw’, ‘to speak’
  • Clio — Κλειώ — ‘Gloryfying’ from Indo-European ‘kleu-‘, ‘To hear’ and ‘yu-2’
    , ‘Outcry of exaltation’
  • Erato — Ὲρατώ — ‘Lovely’ from Indo-European ‘ser-1’, ‘To Protect’ and ‘teu-‘, ‘to pay attention to’ (Obviously ‘Era’ is related to ‘Eros’ but the derivation of ‘Eros’ is uncertain. The suspicion is that Hera, hero, and Eros are all related words.
  • Euterpe — Εὺτέρπη–‘Well delighting’ from Indo-European ‘ei-1’, ‘To go’ and ‘terp-‘, ‘To satisfy oneself’
  • Melpomene — Μελπομένη –‘Singing’ from Indo-European ‘mel-3’, ‘a limb(a musical phrase)’, and ‘wekw’, ‘to speak’
  • Polymnia — Πολύμνιά — ‘Many hymning’ from Indo-European ‘pel-8’, ‘To fill’, ‘dhghem-‘, ‘earth’ and ‘ei’, ‘To go’ (May relate to chanting while providing libations???)
  • Terpsichore — Τερψιχόρη — ‘Delight in dance’ from Indo-European ‘terp-‘, ‘To satisfy oneself’, ‘gher-2’, ‘To grasp, enclosure’ The connection between dancing and an enclosure is surely evident in this quote from the Iliad (Book XVIII): “Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once made in Cnossus for lovely Ariadne. Hereon there danced youths and maidens whom all would woo, with their hands on one another’s wrists. The maidens wore robes of light linen, and the youths well woven shirts that were slightly oiled. The girls were crowned with garlands, while the young men had daggers of gold that hung by silver baldrics; sometimes they would dance deftly in a ring with merry twinkling feet, as it were a potter sitting at his work and making trial of his wheel to see whether it will run, and sometimes they would go all in line with one another, and much people was gathered joyously about the green. There was a bard also to sing to them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in the midst of them when the man struck up with his tune.”
  • Thalia — Θάλειά — ‘Blooming’ from Indo-European ‘dhal-‘, ‘To Bloom’ and ‘ei’, ‘To go’
  • Urania — Ὀὐρανίη– ‘Heavenly’ from Indo-European ‘wer-8’, ‘Wide, broad’ and ‘ane-‘, ‘To breathe’ (literally broad soul)

Since every Muse is translatable as an Indo-European word it might be assumed that these goddesses were part of the Indo-European pantheon after they arrived in Greece and before they were influenced by the Minoans or other culture local to Greece.

A Muse with a Barbiton
Muse with Barbiton

Hesiod, in his Works and Days says the following about the Muses:

(ll. 1-10) ‘Muses of Pieria who give glory through song, come
hither, tell of Zeus your father and chant his praise.
crossed over to Chalcis, to the games of wise Amphidamas where
the sons of the great-hearted hero proclaimed and appointed
prizes. And there I boast that I gained the victory with a song
and carried off an handled tripod which I dedicated to the Muses
of Helicon, in the place where they first set me in the way of
clear song. Such is all my experience of many-pegged ships;
nevertheless I will tell you the will of Zeus who holds the
aegis; for the Muses have taught me to sing in marvellous song.’

Hesiod, in his Theogony says the following about the Muses:
(ll. 1-25) ‘From the Heliconian Muses let us begin to sing, who
hold the great and holy mount of Helicon, and dance on soft feet
about the deep-blue spring and the altar of the almighty son of
Cronos, and, when they have washed their tender bodies in
Permessus or in the Horse’s Spring or Olmeius, make their fair,
lovely dances upon highest Helicon and move with vigorous feet.
Thence they arise and go abroad by night, veiled in thick mist,
and utter their song with lovely voice, praising Zeus the aegis-
holder and queenly Hera of Argos who walks on golden sandals and
the daughter of Zeus the aegis-holder bright-eyed Athene, and
Phoebus Apollo, and Artemis who delights in arrows, and Poseidon
the earth-holder who shakes the earth, and reverend Themis and
quick-glancing (1) Aphrodite, and Hebe with the crown of gold,
and fair Dione, Leto, Iapetus, and Cronos the crafty counsellor,
Eos and great Helius and bright Selene, Earth too, and great
Oceanus, and dark Night, and the holy race of all the other
deathless ones that are for ever. And one day they taught Hesiod
glorious song while he was shepherding his lambs under holy
Helicon, and this word first the goddesses said to me — the
uses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis…’

Notice that Hesiod is saying somthing about the nature of poetry and art from the ancient Greek point of view. Making poetry is a sacred activity and one must be cleansed to participate. Next he says that the idea of poetry and art is to praise the divinities. He mentions more than the tradional twelve deities.

(ll. 26-28) `’Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of
shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false things as
though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true

Hesiod here emphasizes the desire for poetry to reflect the truth.

(ll. 29-35) ‘So said the ready-voiced daughters of great Zeus, and
they plucked and gave me a rod, a shoot of sturdy laurel, a
marvellous thing, and breathed into me a divine voice to
celebrate things that shall be and things there were aforetime;
and they bade me sing of the race of the blessed gods that are
eternally, but ever to sing of themselves both first and last.
But why all this about oak or stone?’ (2)

What Hesiod here receives is a talking stick. A talking stick is often used to indicate in a group who has the right to speak. The suggestion here is that he has been given the right to talk for the muses.

(ll. 36-52) ‘Come thou, let us begin with the Muses who gladden
the great spirit of their father Zeus in Olympus with their
songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were
aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet
sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the
loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as
it spread abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the
songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were
aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet
sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the
loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as
it spread abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the
homes of the immortals. And they uttering their immortal voice,
celebrate in song first of all the reverend race of the gods from
the beginning, those whom Earth and wide Heaven begot, and the
gods sprung of these, givers of good things. Then, next, the
goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, as they begin
and end their strain, how much he is the most excellent among the
gods and supreme in power. And again, they chant the race of men
and strong giants, and gladden the heart of Zeus within Olympus,
— the Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder.’

Here Hesiod explains that the deities delight in poetry especially when it is for their praise.

(ll. 53-74) ‘Them in Pieria did 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. There are
their bright dancing-places and beautiful homes, and beside them
the Graces and Himerus (Desire) live in delight. And they,
uttering through their lips a lovely voice, sing the laws of all
and the goodly ways of the immortals, uttering their lovely
voice. Then went they to Olympus, delighting in their sweet
voice, with heavenly song, and the dark earth resounded about
them as they chanted, and a lovely sound rose up beneath their
feet as they went to their father. And he was reigning in
heaven, himself holding the lightning and glowing thunderbolt,
when he had overcome by might his father Cronos; and he
essed gods who inhabit Olympus, at once he
forgets his heaviness and remembers not his sorrows at all; but
the gifts of the goddesses soon turn him away from these.’

In this context Hesiod explains that the nature of things results from thoughts in the mind of Zeus and that whe learn of that nature through our memory. Thus the Muses, who sing of the nature of things, result from a marriage of the thoughts of Zeus and of our memory of those thoughts. Furthermore the nature of poetry itself includes grace and desire. Thus we desire things that are beautiful like poetry. The ability of poetry to divert one from thepains of life is recognized.

{ll. 75-78) ‘These things, then, the Muses sang who dwell on Olympus, nine daughters begotten by great Zeus, Cleio and Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene and Terpsichore, and Erato and Polyhymnia and Urania and Calliope,’

Notice that though Hesiod names the Muses, he does not assign to each an
individual task. During the Roman period tasks were given to the individual

(ll. 79-104) ‘Calliope, who is the chiefest of them all, [80] for she attends on worshipful princes: whomever of heaven-nourished princes the daughters of great Zeus honor and behold at his birth, they pour sweet dew upon his tongue, and from his lips flow gracious words. All the people [85] look towards him while he settles causes with true judgements: and he, speaking surely, would soon make wise end even of a great quarrel; for therefore are there princes wise in heart, because when the people are being misguided in their assembly, they set right the matter again [90] with ease, persuading them with gentle words. And when he passes through a gathering, they greet him as a god with gentle reverence, and he is conspicuous amongst the assembled: such is the holy gift of the Muses to men. For it is through the Muses and far-shooting Apollo that [95] there are singers and harpers upon the earth; but princes are of Zeus, and happy is he whom the Muses love: sweet flows speech from his mouth. For although a man has sorrow and grief in his newly-troubled soul and lives in dread because his heart is distressed, yet, when a singer, [100] the servant of the Muses, chants the glorious deeds of men of old and the blessed gods who inhabit Olympus, at once he forgets his heaviness and remembers not his sorrows at all; but the gifts of the goddesses soon turn him away from these.’

Here Hesiod seems to be hoping that a prince will be influence by the history contained in poetry so he can make fairer judgements.

From the Odyssey (book 24, line 60)the musical skill of the Myses is made clear, “And the Muses, nine in all, replying to one another with sweet voices, led the dirge. There couldst thou not have seen an Argive but was in tears, so deeply did the clear-toned Muse move their hearts.”

Also interesting is the type of material that the Muses are involved with. The Muses have some similarity with the Maenads who also sing and dance. Euripides in The Bacchae has Teiresias say “This god too hath prophetic power, for there is no small prophecy inspired by Bacchic frenzy; for whenever the god in his full might enters the human frame, he makes his frantic votaries foretell the future.” Hesiod says the Muses are concerned with “celebrat(ing) things that shall be” yet prophesy does not seem to be in the realm of the Muses. Rather they focus on history, and the stories of the deities.

Aeschines in Against Timarchus, Speech 1, Section 10, states that Solon regulated the festivals of the Muses.

Aeschylus has Prometheus state that he “…invented for (men) … the combining of letters, creative mother of the Muses’ arts, with which to hold all things in memory.” Prometheus Bound, line 461.

The muses have their own stories(myths)

  • Calliope was the mother of Orpheus and Rhesus, and Oeger was her husband.
  • Calliope is the main Muse because she attends to worshipful princes.
  • Kleio was the mother of Hyacinth by Pierus.
  • Kleio teased Aphrodite about her love of Adonis.
  • Euterpe was the mother of Rhesus by the river Strymon.
  • Melpomene was the mother of the Sirens by Acheolous.
  • Thalia was the mother of Corybantes perhaps by Zeus or Cronus.
  • Ourania was the mother of Linus by Amphimarus, a son of Poseidon,.

Euripides, in the Bacchae states “to Pieria, beautiful seat of the Muses, the holy slope of Olympus.”, line 410

Domains of the Muses assigned by Authors after Classical Greece

Name        Meaning of Name        Domain        Symbols 
Calliope    The Fair Voiced        Epic Poetry   Writing Tablet 
Clio        The Proclaimer         History       Scroll 
Erato       The Lovely             Love Poetry   Lyre 
Euterpe     The Giver of Pleasure  Music         Flute 
Melpomene   The Songstress         Tragedy       Tragic Mask 
Polyhymnia  She of Many Hymns      Sacred Poetry Pensive Look 
Terpsichore The Whirler            Dancing       Dancing with Lyre 
Thalia      The Flourishing        Comedy        Comic Mask 
Urania      The Heavenly           Astronomy     Celestial Globe 

Invoking the Muse

An artist evokes the Muse when that artist is in a situation to
produce great art. Homer evoked the Muse and he produced the Iliad. If
you can sit down and write a song that people will sing 3000 years from now
then you have evoked the Muse. Perhaps the Muse whispers it in your ear, or
perhaps she implants it in your dreams, or it appears out of thin air. Or
most likely it is plodded out word by word with many corrections and the
Muse reveals it only a word at a time. Worse yet, you may have to write
many songs, all failures, until, in a fit of extreme desperation the Muse
finally comes to you, but all you get is the words for a song that everyone
forgets after a year. I like to do visual art. Many peaople say they cannot
do art, and the Muse never comes. Every once in a while I do a piece of art
and someone likes it and buys it and treasures it in their house, and I see
the Muse, and she is one of the most beautiful creatures there is.



The Muses, Goddesses of Inspiration in the Arts and Sciences

Questions and Answers

Question: how do the muses dress?

Answer: For a picture of the Muses:

Click here

They are dressed in their party clothes because they are always singing
and dancing.

Question: Is there a woman named Caliope anywhere in the books or is she from
somewhere else?

Answer: Calliope is one of the Muses. And Hesiod says: “(ll. 75-103)
These things, then, the Muses sang who dwell on
Olympus, nine daughters begotten by great Zeus, Cleio and
Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene and Terpsichore, and Erato and
Polyhymnia and Urania and Calliope (3), who is the chiefest of
them all, for she attends on worshipful princes: whomsoever of
heaven-nourished princes the daughters of great Zeus honour, and
behold him at his birth, they pour sweet dew upon his tongue, and
from his lips flow gracious words.”

Question: which of the muses would be considered the muse of art, as in
painting or sculpture?

Answer: The Muse of painting and Sculpture is often taken to be Athena, the gooddess of arts and crafts.

Johannes Vermeer felt the Muse of history was the the muse of painting.
See a discussion at:
Click here

William Hogarth felt the Muse of Comedy was the the muse of painting.
See a painting at:
Click here

For Francisco Goya his muse was Leocadia Zorrilla.
See a discussion at:
Click here

For William Wegmen a muse is anything that gives you the idea of what to
paint. See a discussion at:
Click here

Question: What is the name of the greek god or goddess of music…..and
can i see a picture??

Answer: Apollo is the God of Music and the 9 muses collectively were the
goddesses of music.

Question: muses are said to give ideas to writers or musicians by their
presence….is that true??

Answer: Yes, except they do not have to be present.

Question: what does the name Muse mean???

Answer: The mindful ones.

Question: Whowhere they and what did they do

Answer: They were goddesses who provided artistic and poetic inspiration.

Question: Why are muses considered myths?

Answer: The first writings about the Muses came from early poets. Though the early Greeks recognized that these writings were not literally true still they preserved them because of their reference to actions and behaviors that were desirable. Strictly myths are stroies that originate in a pre-literate society. They include stories of ancestors, heroes, and even supernatural beings that describe appropriate behavior in the society in which they are preserved. The ancient Greeks recognized that these stories, for them, were contained in poetry that had been passed down from previous generations. From this observation came the notion of poetic license where a poet is allowed to deviate from facts and conventions to make a better sounding poem.

Question: Can you tell me more about Erato?

Answer: Here is a modern picture of her:
Click here

Question: Can you tell me more about Terpsichore and the myth of

Answer: The Muses were not dealt with separately until Roman times.

Question: Terpsichore

Answer: Terpsichore

Question: I need some info on Thalia and a picture of her

Answer: Thalia was the mother of Corybantes. a web page about Thalia is at:
Click here

Question: Which Muse is mentioned in one of Homer’s works?

Answer: Homer references Muses as follows:

  • Odyssey, Book I – Muse
  • Odyssey, Book VIII – the Muse
  • Odyssey, Book XXIV – all the nine Muses
  • Iliad, Book I – O goddess
  • Iliad, Book I (twice) – the Muses
  • Iliad, Book II, XIV, XVI – O Muses
  • Iliad, Book II – O Olympian Muses
  • Iliad, Book II – O Muse
  • Iliad, Book XI – ye Muses

Sometimes he references one, and sometimes he references them all, but he
never calls one by name.

Question: Apollo was said to have had affairs with some of his Muses. True or false?

Answer: I find no evidence of it.

Question: In one of Homer’s hymns to Artemis, he said she goes to Apollo’s
house in Delphi to order the Muses but i thought the Muses were supposed to
live on Olympus?

Answer: Hesiod refers to them as the Muses of Helicon. Helicon is a
mountain in southwestern Boetia, Greece. This mountain is believed to be
the home of the Muses.

Question: What are the roman names of the muses?

Answer: The Romans kept the same names

Answer: Pegasus was the winged horse in Greek mythology that caused the
stream Hippocrene, the fountain of the Muses, to spring from Mount Helicon
with a blow of his mighty hoof.

Question: was there more than 9 muses

Answer: The ancient Greeks only admitted to 9. Plato said that Sappho
was the tenth Muse as a tribute to this ancient poet’s ability.

Question: I have to do a school report on Clio. I can not find any good reasources on her personally, can you recomend any?? Thanks

Answer: Apollodorus has some information about Kleio at: Click here.

Question: why are they describes as “forteiings of evils’?

Answer: I cannot find any association of the muses with foretellings or
evils. But as goddesses they were supposed to have the gift of prophesy.

Question: What cities were important in the life and loves of
the muses?

Answer: Of all the cities of ancient Greece they favored Athens the most.
Mt. Helicon was sacred to them.

Question: galetea

Answer: Homer refers to the “famous sea-nymph Galatea” in the Iliad as one
who accompanies Thetis in Book XVIII. In the Theogony, Hesiod speaks of her
as the comely daughter of Nereus and Doris(ll. 240-264). The Roman poet
Ovid speaks at length about this Galatea, but, though he talks about Pygmalion,
He never metions that his sculpted wife is also named Galatea.

Question: favouriet haunts on mount hellicon

Answer: A spring named Aganippe and another named Hippocrene are both on
Helicon. At the foot of Mt. Helicon was Thespiae where they had a temple
and statues.

Question: How can Thalia be both a Muse and a Grace? Why is she name as both?

Answer: There are four different Thalias in mythology:

  1. One of the Muses and mother of the Corybantes.
  2. One of the Nereids.
  3. The daughter of Hephaestus.
  4. One of the Graces

‘Thalia’ means abundance and so was a popular name.

Question: can you find ne some info on erato, The Muses?

Answer: There is very little information about the individual Muses
in Greek literature because the Greeks did not distinguish them.

Question: What kind of clothes did they wear during alexander the greats
life-we need pictures?

Answer: The relevant dates are 356-323 BCE.

Question: How are their names pronunced

Answer: Cal-LI-o-pe, CLI-o, ER-a-to,
Eu-TER-pe, Mel-POM-e-ne, Pol-y-HYM-ni-a, Terp-SICH-o-re, Tha-LI-
a, U-RA-ni-a

Question: Is there just one muse for memory or are all of them?

Answer: Mnemnosyne, a titanides, is the goddess of memory and the mother
of the Muses.

Question: What is the function of the Muses invocation throughout the illiad?

Answer: Normally one cannot know of the deities because to do so would
make one like a deity. Information of the deities must be encrypted for
mortals. But truth about the deities is required by mortals. Invocation
of the Muse allows some truth about the deities to be known. The Muse reveals
just as much truth as is appropriate to the invoker and his/her situation. An invocation is a calling upon a divine being for assistance. This is quite an old concept since the root of the word ‘invoke’ is the Indo-European ‘wekw-‘, ‘To speak’.

Question: I want to know more about Euterpe.Thanks!

Answer: Click here.

Euterpe and Selene

The Muses: Clio, Euterpe and Thalia

Euterpe and Selene

Question: I would like to know how to write urania in ancient greek

Answer: Ὀὐρανίη

Question: Where do the muses live? What were their birthdays? Who is their employer?

Answer: The Muses live on Olympus in the palace of Zeus. You might say that Apollo is their employer since they often formed his chorus. But you might also say that any poet or artist employs them when they are invoked. Mnemosyne was Titan goddess of memory and remembrance and she is credited with inventing language and words. For this reason she is presented as the mother of the Muses. Birthdays are causes of festivals but I find no birthays specifically mentioned for the Muses. All festivals at which there is poetry, song and dance could be considered birthdays of the Muses. More information about the Muses can be found at click here