The Muses

Daughters of Wit and Charm

The Muses or Mousai are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (sister of Hyperion and Rheia). They are often referred to as Heliconian and Pierian, to mark the seats of their earliest worship (Pieria, near Olympos and Mount Helicon in Boeotia).

They are listed by name (Theogony 77) but the specific attributes of each goddess were added by later poets:

Kalliope attends the birth of kingly nobles and gives (or withholds) the gift of the Muses as the immortals deem fit (Theogony, 80). Mere mortals who are blessed by the Muses, can use the beauty of their song, or the grace of their dance to heal the sick and comfort the heartbroken.

One story says that a singer and poet named Thamyris challenged the Muses. He mocked them and made light of their skills. For his insolence, Thamyris was maimed and lost his memory. He could no longer remember his songs or his poems. The Muses can bestow the gift of talent and insight but they can also, viciously, revoke their blessings. King Pierus boasted that his daughters rivaled the Muses in beauty and talent, they (all nine of his daughters) were turned into magpies.

The Muses attend the festivals on Olympos and entertain and inspire the other gods with their wit and charm. Apollo puts aside his bow and plays the lyre as the Graces join in the dance of the immortals.

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The Muses in The Iliad (listed by book and line)

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The Muses in The Odyssey (listed by book and line)

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Stewart, Michael. "The Muses", Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant. http://messagenetcommresearch.com/myths/bios/muses.html (November 14, 2005)

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