Symbols - What does heaven look like
The Muses in Greek myth were the personification of inspiration.
They tended to represent both the function and the input from that function. So for example, Euterpe represented the ability to play the flute as well as any inpiration related to flute playing.
THE MOUSAI were the goddesses of music, song and dance, and the source of inspiration to poets.
They were also goddesses of 'knowledge', who remembered all things that had come to pass.
Later the Mousai were assigned specific artistic spheres:
- Kalliope, epic poetry;
- Kleio, history;
- Ourania, astronomy;
- Thaleia, comedy;
- Melpomene, tragedy;
- Polyhymnia, religious hymns;
- Erato, erotic poetry;
- Euterpe, lyric poetry; and
- Terpsikhore, choral song and dance.
In ancient Greek vase painting the Mousai were depicted as beautiful young women with a variety of musical intruments. In later art each of the nine was assigned her own distinctive attribute.
The use of the Muses as personifications of 'knowledge' is particularly intriguing, as it indicates that the Greeks believed that inspiration had to come from somewhere, so if it did not come from the person themselves, and did not come the mind of someone else, then it had to come from the wider spiritual world.
In effect true inspiration is always proof of spirit.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Complete Poems
Sweet Muse! Companion of my every hour
Voice of my Joy! Sure soother of the sigh!
Now plume thy pinions, now exert each power,
And fly to him who owns the candid eye
And if a smile of Praise thy labour hail
(Well shall thy labours then my mind employ)
Fly fleetly back, sweet Muse! And with the tale
O'erspread my Features with a flush of Joy!
Apollo and the Muses - John Singer Sargent
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- Carl Orff - Carmina Burana - The wheel of fortune
- Censorinus - De Die Natali
- Hesiod - Theogony - The gods
- Hesiod - Theogony - The Muses
- Hesiod - Works and Days - Of Zeus
- Holderlin, Johann - Once Gods walked
- Moreau - Apollo and the nine muses 1856
- Mr Bryant on the 'worship in caverns'
- Oliver Sacks - Smells that come from 'beyond the mind'
- Ovid - Metamorphoses - The Song of the Muses
- Rimbaud, Arthur - Resting limbs worn out from Wandering
- Socrates - Plato Phaedrus - On divine madness