January 22, 2009

#01-213: Meet the Muses - Part II

a number of artsy women, some elaborately costumed, sit around in a rustic scene. Some hold symbolic objects, like a spear, a sphere, a lute, etc.
The Nine Muses (detail of a larger painting)

Note: Nine arts--four forms of poetry, two more kinds of writing, plus dance, music, and astronomy--are represented by the nine Muses.

Get Ready: How many different kinds of art can you think of? Make a list and compare it to the nine types of art considered important to the Greeks.

Let's continue talking about the Muses, whom we first heard about in Lesson #01-212, and who throughout the ages have provided inspiration to artists and poets of all kinds. I have given you each one's name, the meaning of the name, and the art that she represents, as well as a few comments.

  • Calliope (Beautiful Speech), the Muse of Epic Poetry. She is often called the "Chief of the Muses," as most of the arts overseen by the Muses involve beautiful sounds. Calli- means "beautiful," as in "calligraphy" (beautiful writing). Incidentally, her name was given to a kind of steam-driven pipe organ invented in 1855.
  • Clio (Glorious), the Muse of History. The name comes from the Greek kleio, meaning "fame," and so history is the art of telling stories about famous people.
  • Erato (Amorous), the Muse of Love Poetry. Her name derives from Eros, the same word from which we get "erotic." Love, then, is her theme.
  • Euterpe (Delightful), the Muse of Lyric Poetry. Lyric poems are short, and were often set to music. Today, we refer to the words of popular songs as "lyrics," and they, as Euterpe's name suggests, can be delightful indeed.
  • Melpomene (Chanting), the Muse of Tragedy. Originally the Muse of Singing, she later was known as patron of Tragedy, perhaps to balance her sister Thalia (below).
  • Polyhymnia (Many Religious Songs), the Muse of Religious Music. Poly- means "many"; a hymn is a religious song. So she inspires the writing of religious songs.
  • Terpsichore (Delights in Dance), the Muse of Dance. There is a rare adjective, "terpsichorean," derived from her name. It means "of or relating to dance." The former part of her name is also found in the name "Euterpe" above, meaning "delightful." The latter part, meaning "dance," can also be found in the common word "choreography."
  • Thalia (Flourishing), the Muse of Comedy and Bucolic Poetry. There is an extremely rare adjective derived from her name, "thalian," meaning "comic," and the equally rare (but wonderful!) adjective "antithalian" meaning "opposed to fun."
  • Urania (Celestial), the Muse of Astronomy. Her name is familiar from the name of the planet, Uranus, which was in turn named for the Greek god of the sky. She is, then, the muse of those who study the skies, the astronomers.

So now you have met the nine sisters known as the Muses. In Lesson #01-214, we'll meet nine more sisters--in three groups of three.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muses

Practice: Match the Muse to something about her below:

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

  1. a funny shepherd might be doubly dear to her
  2. her name means "amorous"
  3. related to the heavens
  4. she inspires the writing of religious songs
  5. she might enjoy hearing modern songs today
  6. the "Chief of the Muses"
  7. the Muse of History
  8. the patron of Tragedy
  9. you might imagine her dancing

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 22, 2009

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. f; 2. g; 3. b; 4. e; 5. h; 6. d; 7. i; 8. a; 9. c