The Mousai (The Muses)

Blessing: The Muses preside over the arts and sciences, giving inspiration to all artists, particularly poets, painters, dancers, musicians, philosophers, and astronomers.

Names and SymbolsThe Delphic Muses were the daughters of Apollon. Traditionally three in number, they are named Kephiso, Apollonis and Borythenis; or, alternatively, Nete, Mese and Hypate. They represent (or were represented by) the three strings of the lyre.

The Titanic Muses are three or four in number. They are Melete (practice), Aiode (song), and Mneme (memory). The last of these is usually equated with Mnemosyne, the mother of the nine Olympian Muses.

Cicero offers an alternative name and number scheme in Thelxinoe, Aiode, Arkhe, and Melete.

The Olympian Muses traditionally number nine. They are Calliope (fair-voiced), considered the noblest of the Muses, who presides over epic song and is pictured with a wax tablet and pen. Clio (she that extols) is the Muse of history, and has a scroll. Erato (the lovely one) is the Muse of erotic poetry, and is depicted with a smaller lyre. Euterpe (she that gladdens) is the Muse of lyric song, and has a double flute. Melpomene (she that sings) is the Muse of tragedy, and she has a tragic mask, ivy wreath, and attributes of the hero she is inspiring a song about, e.g. the club for Herakles or sword for Perseus. Polymnia or Polyhymnia (rich in hymns), is the Muse of serious sacred songs, and is usually represented as veiled and pensive. Terpsichore (she that rejoices in the dance), is the Muse of dancing, and is depicted with a lyre. Thalia (she that flourishes) is the Muse of comedy and bucolic poetry, and she is shown with the comic mask, the ivy wreath, and the shepherd’s staff. Urania (the heavenly) is the Muse of astronomy, and she is shown with the celestial globe. [Note: some modern devotees she Urania as the Muse of all the sciences, not just astronomy.]

Associations and Offerings: flowers, spring water, frankincense, ink, paper, pen, quill, lyre and other stringed instruments, flute and other wind instruments, honey


Festival of the Muses (9 Artemisios)

Ways to honor: Create! Learn a new art form. Go to museums, theaters, dance recitals, and other places of culture. Support artists. Give money to street musicians or painters. Turn a child onto art.

Ancient Texts:

Excerpt from Bibliotheca Historica by Diodorus Siculus

Excerpt from Geographica by Strabo

Excerpt from On Architecture by Vetruvius

Excerpt from The Theogony by Hesiod

Orphic Hymn LXXVI (To the Muses)

Solon’s Hymn to the Muses

Modern Texts:

Hymn to Clio by Lykeia

Hymn to the Muses I by Rebecca Buchanan

Hymn to Tersichord, Muse of Sacred Song by Lykeia

I Sing the Muses Nine by Amanda Aremisia Forrester

Kastalia by Rebecca Buchanan

The Artist’s Prayer (To Apollon and the Muses) by Lykeia

The Modern Nine by Reverend Allyson Szabo

To My Muse by Amanda Aremisia Forrester

To the Muses by P Sufenas Virius Lupus

Rituals and Festivals:

Ritual for the Muses by Rebecca Buchanan


Essays: Forthcoming

Links: article on the Mousoi

Wikipedia article on the Muses

The Muses in Myth and Art

The Muses in Homer

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