Who Were the Muses?


Quick Answer

The nine muses of Greek mythology were nine anthropomorphic divine female characters who each held particular sway in a specific area of academia or creativity; these muses include Clio, the muse of history, Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, Urania, the muse of astronomy, and Thalia, the muse of comedy. The other five muses are Euterpe, the muse of song, Erato, the muse of lyric poetry, Terpsichore, the muse of dance, Polyhymnia, the muse of religious song, and Melpomene, the muse of tragedy. All of these characters are depicted as sisters in the myths, and they are the daughters of Zeus, the father of gods, and the goddess of memory, Mnemosyne.

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Who Were the Muses?
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Full Answer

In addition to representing the personification of knowledge or talent in a specific area, the muses were also represented by a specific symbol, emblem or attribute that matches with their talents. These include Clio's scroll, Urania's globe, Terpsichore's lyre and Polyhymnia's veil. The two muses of tragedy and comedy, Melpomene and Thalia, are each typically depicted holding a tragedy mask and a comedy mask, respectively. The muses are commonly depicted in art, particularly in allegory paintings, either as a group or on their own, physically guiding or otherwise giving inspiration to famous writers, painters and philosophers.

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