MythologyThe Muses are the Greek goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences. They were believed to inspire artists, especially poets, philosophers and musicians. Daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, they were born at the foot of Mount Olympus in Pieria. Their name denotes ‘memory’ or ‘a reminder’, since early poets had no books to read from and thus relied on memory alone.
The number of Muses varies through history. Initially there was only one, and later there is mention of three: Melete, Mneme, and Aoede. Ultimately there become nine muses: Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania. These nine are the muses that our Krewe celebrates. Each is associated with a particular domain. Each year we select a muse and an “honorary muse” from our community in that domain.
All learning was under the patronage of the Muses. Schools commonly had shrines to the Muses, and any place dedicated to them was known as a mouseion, the source of our word “museum”. Areas with many wells and springs were places where the Muses were most frequently venerated throughout Greece. The area of Boeotia, near Helicon, remained the favorite place of the Muses, and there they were more adored than elsewhere. It is also the place of two wells that were sacred to them, Aganippe and Hippocrene. Mount Helicon was sacred to the Muses. Sacrifices to the Muses were of water, milk or honey.
Apollo, the god of music and harmony, became their leader, thus earning the name musagetes. Their companions are the Charities, the Horae, Eros, Dionysus, Apollo, Aphrodite, Harmonia, and Desire. Athena caught and tamed the winged horse Pegasus and gave him to the Muses. Some of their disciples included the Sphinx who learned her riddle from the Muses, Aristaeus, who learned the arts of healing and prophecy from them, and Echo, who was taught by them to play music.
The Muses sat near the throne of Zeus, and sang of his honor as well as the honor of great heroes. We get words such as music, museum, and mosaic from “muse”.
Below are some links to other Muses websites:
Theoi Greek Mythology
Some information was taken from the following websites:
1. “Muses.” Encyclopedia Mythica from Encyclopedia Mythica Online. (http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/muses.html)
2. “The Nine Muses” (http://www.cosmopolis.com/muses/muses.html)
For more information about the paintings on this page, visit The Web Gallery of Art.