This week’s Wednesday Whimsy is M for Muse. I’m always talking about mine and how finicky she is, and how she absolutely refuses to plot things too far in advance LOL.
Here’s what famed film maker Franco Zefferelli thought about the Muses: “I have always believed that opera is a planet where the muses work together, join hands and celebrate all the arts.”
I have a lovely set of six trade cards from 1910, from Italy, with the nine classic Muses, to share with you today. These young women were thought by the Greeks to personify knowledge and the arts, especially music, dance and various forms of literature. I put Clio and Calliope at the top because Clio represented history and Calliope specialized in epic poetry. Hesiod, a Greek poet who lived around the same time as Homer, said: “Happy is the man whom the Muses love: sweet speech flows from his mouth.” Or as James Broughton, a precursor to the Beat Poets said, “The most astonishing joy is to receive from the muses the gift of a whole lyric.”
Yes, just hope the Muse doesn’t dictate too fast for the poet or author to scribble the notes!
Then we have Polimnia for geometry, grammar and hymns, walking with Euterpe,
the Muse for music. Thalia protected comedy and Erato lived for love and love poetry and weddings. She’s the lady of Happily Ever After, I think!=>
Melpomene (shown below) was the opposite of Thalia, being the Muse who sponsored tragedy. She carries the mask of Tragedy and a bat (to bring tragedy if there isn’t enough already???)
Urania inspired the astronomers and protected the stars…As Mary Ritter Beard said, about a hundred years ago, “It’s only very recently that women have succeeded in entering those professions which, as Muses, they typified for the Greeks.” We’ve made progress since Ms. Beard was writing but much remains to be done.
There’s another quote I loved, before I get to the ninth Muse and my big finale. This is from an ancient Roman scholar and writer named Marcus Terentius Varro: “The number of guests at dinner should not be less than the number of the Graces nor exceed that of the Muses, i.e., it should begin with three and stop at nine.” I guess he liked very small gatherings…So here are the Three Graces, or Daughters of Zeus, for you, although I know them as Faith, Hope and Charity myself:
OK, now the ninth and final Muse was Terpsichore, the protector of dance, inventor of the harp and a lady who liked to have fun while dancing. I saved her for last because I’ve got a wonderful, fun music video for you from the old 1980’s musical
“Xanadu,” wherein the Muses come to life to the music of Electric Light Orchestra singing “I’m Alive”. Olivia Newton John played a girl named Kira, who was a Muse in human form and inspired a roller rink among other things in this fun, candy-colored film. Gene Kelly danced in it, although not in this youtube clip I’m putting below!