). In Greek mythology the Muses were originally the
nymphs of springs, whose waters gave inspiration, such as Hippocrené, Castalia,
etc.; then goddesses of song in general; and afterwards the representatives of the various
kinds of poetry, arts, and sciences. In Homer, who now speaks of one, and now of many Muses,
but without specifying their number or their names, they are considered goddesses dwelling in
Olympus, who at the meals of the gods sing sweetly to the lyre of Apollo, inspire the poet and
prompt his song. Hesiod (Theog.
52-76) calls them the nine daughters of Zeus
and Mnemosyné, born in Pieria, and mentions their names, to which we shall at the
same time add the province and the attributes afterwards assigned to each.
(she of the fair
voice), in Hesiod the noblest of all, the Muse of epic song; among her attributes are a wax
tablet and a pencil.
(she that extols), the Muse of history; with a
(she that gladdens), the Muse
of lyric song; with the double flute.
(she that flourishes), the Muse
of comedy and bucolic poetry; with the comic mask, the ivy wreath, and the shepherd's
sings), the Muse of tragedy; with tragic mask, ivy wreath, and occasionally with attributes
of individual heroes— e. g. the club, the sword.
rejoices in the dance), the Muse of dancing; with the lyre.
(the lovely one), the Muse of
erotic poetry; with a smaller lyre.
(she that is rich in hymns), the Muse of serious sacred
songs; usually represented as veiled and pensive.
(the heavenly), the Muse of astronomy; with
the celestial globe. See the separate articles on the Muses.
Three older Muses were sometimes distinguished from these. Meleté (Meditation),
Mnemé (Remembrance), Aoidé (Song), whose worship was said to have been
introduced by the Aloadae, Otus and Ephialtes, near Mount Helicon. Thracian settlers in the
Pierian district at the foot of Olympus and of Helicon in Boeotia are usually mentioned as
the original founders of this worship. At both these places were their oldest sanctuaries.
According to the general belief, the favourite haunts of the Muses were certain springs, near
which temples and statues had been erected in their honour: Castalia, at the foot of Mount
Parnassus, and Aganippé and Hippocrené, on Helicon, near the towns of
Ascra and Thespiae. After the decline of Ascra, the inhabitants of Thespiae attended to the
worship of the Muses and to the arrangements for the musical contests in their honour that
took place once in five years. They were also adored in many other places in Greece. Thus the
Athenians offered them sacrifices in the schools, while the Spartans did so before battle. As
the inspiring nymphs of springs they were early connected with Dionysus; the god of poets,
Apollo, is looked on as their leader (Μουσαγέτης
whom they share the knowledge of past, present, and future. As beings that gladden men and
gods with their song, Hesiod describes them as dwelling on Olympus along with the Charites
and Himeros. They were represented in art as virgin goddesses with long garments of many
folds, and frequently with a cloak besides; they were not distinguished by special attributes
till comparatively later times. See Die Musen in der antiken Kunst
The Roman poets identified them with the Italian Camēnae
, prophetic nymphs of springs and goddesses of birth, who had a
grove at Rome outside the Porta Capena. (See Egeria
.) The Greeks gave the title of Muses to their nine most distinguished
poetesses: Praxilla, Moero , Anyté, Erinna, Telesilla, Corinna, Nossis, Myrtis,