The Krewe of Muses is distinguished as the first all-female Mardi Gras krewe to parade at night uptown New Orleans. In Greek mythology, the Muses are the nine daughters of Zeus. No festivity in Olympus was considered complete without their joy-inspiring presence, and on earth no fine art, scientific, or intellectual endeavor was undertaken without humbly seeking their inspiration.
Centuries later, the Krewe of Muses continues celebrating the wildness and virtues of these goddesses, as well as their place in the mystique of New Orleans. Since 2001, our organization has grown to include over 1,400 members. Our vision is to celebrate the artistic and cultural resources of our community and incorporate them into our Mardi Gras tradition, making the entire community a part of the Krewe of Muses parade.
We are known for our year-long commitment to philanthropic works, infamously satirical floats, and, of course, fabulously glittered shoe throws. Though our organization is young relative to the long tradition of Carnival in New Orleans, we have transformed local traditions by popularizing all-female parades, adult marching groups, and signature throws.
Happy are they whom the Muses love!
"I will begin with the Muses and Apollo and Zeus. For it is through the Muses and Apollo that there are singers upon the earth and players upon the lyre; but kings are from Zeus. Happy is he whom the Muses love: sweet flows speech from his lips.”
Homeric Hymn to the Muses and Apollo, 1
In Greek mythology, the Muses are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. Sometimes these ethereal goddess are referred to as water nymphs, as they were born from the four sacred springs that flowed on Helicon after Pegasus, the winged horse, stamped his hooves on the ground. They are known for their divine beauty, grace, and allure; they arouse the inspiration necessary for creation in artists, especially poets, dancers, musicians, and philosophers. Their favorites were bestowed with the noblest thoughts, the sweetest harmonies, eloquence, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
The number of Muses varies depending on the mythology’s source. According to Hesiod, there are nine goddesses, each presiding over a different art. New Orleanians may recognize their names from, often mispronounced, streets throughout the city: Calliope, Cilo, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania. The arts of the Muses are epic poetry, history, lyric poetry, song and elegiac poetry, tragedy, hymns, dance, comedy, and astronomy, respectively.
On Mount Olympus, they entertained their father and other gods with their great artistry. Apollo, the god of music and harmony, became their choir leader, thus earning the name Musagetes, which means leader of the Muses. Their choir sat near the throne of Zeus and was known for commemorating in song the glorious deeds of the Olympian gods. Additionally, the Muses lived on the summits of Mounts Helicon, Parnassus, Pindus, or Olympus. They haunted the wells, springs and fountains of these rocky summits, which were sacred to them and to poetic inspiration.
Renaissance and Neoclassical art movements standardized representations of the Muses, identifiable by their artistic emblems and often displayed joyously dancing around a spring on a mountaintop.
While known for inspiring creativity, they also punished challenges to rival their divine powers. The Sirens, who lured Greek sailors to rocky coasts with their enchanting music and voices, challenged the Muses to a contest of musical skill. The songs of the Sirens were deceptive and false, while the Muses’ songs were true and loyal. The Sirens were defeated by the Muses, and after victory, the Muses plucked out the Sirens’ feathers to make crowns. This contest is commemorated each year with the final Krewe of Muses float in which the sirens have been transplanted to the swamps of Louisiana and immortalized via the annual Sirens float that culminates every Muses parade.
Greek mythology is rich with tales of gods and goddesses but none were as influential as the Muses. These goddesses were created to give inspiration, artistry, knowledge, and music to the ancient world. The Krewe of Muses hopes to continue this tradition.