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What's a Muse?

Electricka is both humble and proud to introduce her colleagues, the nine muses of ancient Greece. If you've already made their acquaintance, bear with her—you may yet learn something new.

the nine Muses

In ancient Greece, people believed that the arts were inspired by muses—goddesses—supernatural women who haunted, lured, persuaded, or drove men to create great works of art. These muses were personifications of an inspiration that seemed magical and unearthly, guiding spirits through whose power one could create something new and wonderful.

The Greeks had nine muses:

  • Calliope (She of the Beautiful Voice) — Muse of epic or heroic poetry. Her other claim to fame is as the mother of Orpheus. She is said to be able to play any musical instrument. Her symbol is the writing tablet.
  • Clio (Proclaimer) — Muse of history. Her symbols are the laurel wreath (standing for victory) and the scroll (containing records of athletic, poetic, and military victories and other historic accomplishments).
  • Erato (Lovely) — Muse of love poetry and marriage songs. Her symbol is the lyre. Her male counterpart is Eros, the ancient Greek god of love, the same god identified by the Romans with Cupid. Her name stems from an ancient Greek word that means of love, caused by love, or given to love, the same word that is the origin of the modern English word erotic.
  • Euterpe (Well Pleasing) — Muse of music and lyric poetry. Her symbol is the flute. She is said to have invented the flute and other wind instruments.
  • Melpomene (Songstress) — Muse of tragedy. Her symbol is the tragic mask.
  • Polyhymnia (She of the Many Hymns) — Muse of sacred song and dance and poetry, oratory, singing, and rhetoric. Her symbol is the veil.
  • Terpsichore (Whirler of the Dance) — Muse of dancing, which she is said to have invented. Her symbol is the cymbal.
  • Thalia (Luxuriant) — Muse of comedy and idyllic poetry. Her symbol is the comic mask.
  • Urania (Heavenly) — Muse of astronomy. Her symbol is a globe and a pair of compasses.

More

About Electricka and  her cohort muses

Who's Electricka? Her full title is Electricka, Muse of the WorldWide Web©. She and her cohorts are today's counterpart of their Ancient Greek sisters, the muses. Electricka and her cohorts are descended from the muses of ancient Greece; they, too, have a royal inheritance. they help bring the ancient muses up to date.

One of Electricka's cohorts is The Muse Of Music. Her counterpart in ancient Greece is Euterpe. Explore the ancient muses and their relation to music further on this page, below.

Electricka and her muses have other counterparts in ancient Greece.

  • For more about Electricka, Muse of the WorldWide Web©, visit the page called Introducing Electricka: click here.
  • For more about Electricka's cohort muses, visit the page called About Electricka's Web Site and take Electricka's Orientation Tour: click here.

About Ancient Greek muses and music

The ancient Greeks thought so highly of music, they dedicated a muse to it. That's quite a compliment, considering the high regard in which they held muses. Her name is Euterpe, which means Well Pleasing.

Euterpe is the muse of music and lyric poetry. Her symbol is the flute. She is said to have invented the flute and other wind instruments. (Look for the flute in the picture of the ancient vase, above.)

They couldn't stop there. Erato, which means the Lovely, is the muse of love poetry and marriage songs. they equated music with love and the marriage bed. They gave her the lyre as a symbol. It seems that music was a preoccupation with them. (Look for the lyre in the wall adornment at the left.)

Notice the muse in music. The Muse Of Music proudly points out that the modern English word for music is ultimately derived from a combination of the Ancient Greek word for music and the Greek expression, art of the Muses. To the Greeks, music was the art of all arts, the art of the muses.

Relating muses and art of the muses to come up with the modern word music makes sense. The Greeks identified their muses with the arts and the art of music with their muses. That identification is high praise for music as an art form; it positions Euterpe as the "most equal" muse of all the coequal ancient muses. In the same way, that identification from Ancient Greece positions Electricka's Muse Of Music as the "most equal" muse of all the coequal modern cohort muses.

By this reckoning, all the muses, ancient and modern, owe The Muse of Music a special debt of gratitude, Electricka included.

  • For more about ancient and modern muses and music, visit The the Muse of Music welcome page: click here.

What do muses and museums have in common?

In ancient Greece a place that was devoted to learning was a sacred place, a place where muses reside. Therefore, in ancient Greece, any place devoted to learning and the arts was called a museum—a muse place!

Museums—all museums—are places sacred to the muses. When you visit a museum, you enter a holy place, one sacred to the gods!

  • Explore the connection between muses and museums at the page called About Muses And Museums: click here.

etymology and the muses

In classic mythology, a Muse was any of a number of sister goddesses: Aoede (song), Melete (meditation), Mneme (memory), and especially any of the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who presided over the arts that are noted above on this page. Since then, the word muse has come to refer to just the nine daughters described above.

The word museum was in use in ancient Greece and Rome, where it referred especially to the scholarly institute founded in Alexandria about 280 BCE. It was absorbed into English early in the seventeenth century.

In the fourteenth century, as a verb the word muse meant to gaze meditatively or wonderingly, a meaning that's now archaic. Archaically, in Middle English the word amuse meant to keep in expectation by flattery or pretense.

Since the fourteenth century, as a verb the word muse has come to mean to think silently, to meditate on, to gaze meditatively, and to comment thoughtfully. And in the modern world, the word amuse has come to mean to hold someone's attention, please, entertain, divert, cause mirth, and to cause to pass the time agreeably.

It seems obvious that the various ideas, arts, concepts, emotions, and principles that the ancient Greek muses stand for inspired a number of derivative words, ancient and modern—words such as meditation, memory, muse, museum, and amuse.

Hats off to The Muses!


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