Musing on the Muses


I’m still plugging away at the new template. I can’t quite make up my mind between the two I’ve built as they both look really nice. Whichever I choose in the end, the blog will look awesome.  Speaking with someone who understands ftp or file transfer protocol the other day, we determined this switch-over was a little over my head as it stands.  She offered to help. Thank goodness.  I may actually get a better looking, easier to use, blog after all. I’m excited

Of the two templates I’ve made, one is all silks in deference to the romance writing. It also has easy to interpret buttons. The other has the same button set-up but carries over the ancient muse feel. I found a small piece of cuneiform writing and ran it through photoshop to make it very pale and visually unobtrusive as a background. I’m leaning toward the latter. Muses are just plain cool.

When Uranus the god of the vast sky melded his essence with Gaia the earth and mother of all life, the Titans were born. Sometime later, Mnemosyne the personification of memory, lay with her nephew Zeus for nine consecutive nights and the nine Muses came out of that union.

  1. Calliope
  2. Clio
  3. Erato
  4. Euterpe
  5. Melpomene
  6. Polyhymnia
  7. Terpsichore
  8. Thalia
  9. Urania

As these nine women were long considered the source of knowledge, places dedicated to learning, were dedicated to them. Hence the name Museum. As a child growing up in Chicago, a city known world-wide for its museums, I used to stare at those Greek statues standing here and there inside the Field Museum of Natural History and outside the Museum of Science and Industry and wonder. I wondered, if Zeus had only nine Muse daughters, then why did the Museum of Science and Industry have far more than nine Muses holding up the roof? I discovered they weren’t Muses, but architectural caryatids – decorative statues of women, their sole purpose to support the roof-line on their heads.

The Field Museum on the other hand, has the real deal. The famed nine Muses of the ancient world, statues as large as their Titaness mother, look down on the main floor. I found these statues rather curious. I couldn’t imagine what they had to do with stuffed and mounted animals, mummies, and dinosaurs. Years passed before I figured it out. Each one held something, a clue as to who and what they represented and while some made perfect sense to me as a child, others were confusing.

Calliope – Muse of Epic Poetry carries a writing tablet

Clio – Muse of History carries a scroll

Erato – Muse of Love Poetry carries a Cithara – sort of a lyre

Euterpe – Muse of Music carries a flute

Melpomene – Muse of Tragedy carries a Tragic mask

Polyhymnia – Muse of Hymns carries a veil

Terpsichore – Muse of Dance carries a lyre

Thalia – Muse of Comedy carries a Comic mask

Urania – Muse of Astronomy carries a globe and compass

I understand now as representatives of poetry, the arts and science, they’re there to be a symbol of the very best in the many cultures depicted in the vast museum collections. As I’ve said before, Calliope was the writer’s muse. I’ve dedicated my blog to her because in a way it too is dedicated to learning – my learning the ropes as an author. For centuries writers made a habit of dedicating to the muses. I’ve found these examples:

William Shakespeare, Henry V:

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!

Charles Baudelaire, The Venal Muse:
O muse of my heart, lover of palaces,
Will you bring, when January lets loose its sleet
And its black evenings without solace,
An ember to warm my violet feet?
What will revive your bruised shoulders,
The nocturnal rays that pierce the shutters?
When you cannot feel your palace, just your empty billfold,
How will you harvest the gold of azure vaults and gutters?
You should, to earn your bread today
Like a choir boy with a censer to wave,
Sings hymns with feeling but without belief.
Or, a starving rip-off artist, selling your charm
And your laughter shades the tears so no one sees the harm
In bringing to bloom an ordinary rat, a vulgar thief.

John Milton, Paradise Lost:
Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse

Homer’s Odyssey:
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.

Dante’s Inferno:
O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!
O memory that engraved the things I saw,
Here shall your worth be manifest to all!

Emily Dickinson Awake ye muses nine:
Awake ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine,
Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine!

The Aeneid by Virgil:
O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate;
What goddess was provok’d, and whence her hate;
For what offense the Queen of Heav’n began
To persecute so brave, so just a man…

Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus:
O lady myn, that called art Cleo,
Thow be my speed fro this forth, and my Muse,
To ryme wel this book til I haue do…

Thomas Moore, While History’s Muse:
While History’s Muse the memorial was keeping
Of all that the dark hand of Destiny weaves,
Beside her the Genius of Erin stood weeping,
For hers was the story that blotted the leaves.
But oh! how the tear in her eyelids grew bright,
When, after whole pages of sorrow and shame,
She saw History write,
With a pencil of light
That illumed the whole volume, her Wellington’s name.

Mary Darby Robinson, Ode to the Muse:
While softly o’er the pearl-deck’d plain,
Cold Dian leads the sylvan train;
In mazy dance and sportive glee,
SWEET MUSE, I’ll fondly turn to thee;
And thou shalt deck my couch with flow’rs,
And wing with joy my silent hours.

William Blake, To the Muses:
Whether on crystal rocks ye rove,
Beneath the bosom of the sea
Wand’ring in many a coral grove,
Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry!
How have you left the ancient love
That bards of old enjoy’d in you!
The languid strings do scarcely move!
The sound is forc’d, the notes are few!

Phillis Wheatley:
There shall thy tongue in heav’nly murmurs flows,
And there my muse with heav’nly transport glow:
No more to tell of Damon’s tender sighs,
Or rising radiance of Aurora’s eyes,
For nobler themes demand a nobler strain,
And purer language on th’ ethereal plain.
Cease, gentle muse! the solemn gloom of night
Now seals the fair creation from my sight.

Catullus:
And so, have them for yourself, whatever kind of book it is,
and whatever sort, oh patron Muse
let it last for more than one generation, eternally.

Today with the sun shining, the orioles singing, the wind blowing the next big storm my way, I’ll dedicate my writing efforts to all the muses and see what happens.  :)

About ~RoseAnderson

Rose is multi-published award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.
This entry was posted in Past Posts - you'll never know what you'll find and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Musing on the Muses

  1. Bree Younger says:

    I remember that piece from The Odyssey. I’ve always loved Greek mythology!!

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