No, the muses are not just a myth. They’re real and if you’re an artist you have to hope one will come and give you inspiration. My father was a music teacher and always told his students that talent was 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration — meaning lots of hours of practice. This certainly applies to writing as well as music. I’ve done both with modest success. But without that inspiration, even if it only accounts for 2% of the product, nothing is going to happen. Below is an ancient depiction of the nine muses from Greek Mythology.
If you read any of the three books I wrote about Elves and the Legend of King Arthur, you know what Nymphs are. The Muses are a special type of Nymph, predating Pan’s advent as a god. The Muses worked under the direction of Zeus but they were just as playful as Pan’s Nymphs as you can see in this painting.
Here follows the names and the duties of each of the nine Muses. Pay attention now. If you’re a writer or any other kind of artist, you will need to know the name of your Muse when you call on her for help with your work.
Clio was the Muse who was the patron of history and writing. Clio enjoyed telling stories of the past. In Greek the word ‘history’ is derived from kleos, meaning heroic acts. In Ancient Greek drama there were three types of plays: Comedies, tragedies and satires that were based on legends and real people from history. Her symbol was a parchment scroll, or a set of tablets.
Here is an old painting of Clio. Writing, hmm could she be my Muse?
Thalia was the Muse who was the joyful patron of comedy and pastoral poetry. Her symbol was a comic mask but she is also depicted with a bugle and a trumpet or occasionally a shepherd’s staff. Thalia and Apollo were the parents of 6 sons, the Corybantes, who were armed and crested dancers. I’m pretty sure Thalia is not my Muse but she sure is sexy and I know some of my followers are struggling poets so here is her picture for you to think of when you call on her for inspiration.
Erato was the beautiful, passionate and erotic Muse who was the patron of lyrical and romantic poetry. Her symbol was a Cithara , a type of lyre, but she was also depicted with turtle doves and golden arrows. Occasionally she is accompanied by the god Eros, holding a torch. If you write love poems, she could be your muse although keep in mind she feels the poems she inspires should be sung, accompanied by a musical instrument such as a lyre, or these days perhaps a guitar. So she could be the Muse of a singer/songwriter. Here is her portrait.
Euterpe was the Muse who was the patron of music. Her symbol was the the Aulos, a type of double flute. Her name was derived from the Greek words meaning the “giver of much delight.” She had a son called Rhesus with the river-god.
Calliope was the Muse who was the patron of epic poetry. Her symbol is a writing tablet but she is also depicted carrying a scroll or a book or as wearing a golden crown. She was said to be the wisest of all the Muses and said to be the inspiration of Homer. Calliope was the mother of Orpheus and Linus. Epic poems are perhaps the closest thing the Greeks had to novels. I think they are the precursor of the novel. Novels, in their present form didn’t really exist until the middle ages. I really feel Calliope is my Muse and the Muse of all novelists. Here is her portrait. Note she is holding a book.
Terpsichore Terpsichore was the Muse who was the patron of dance and the Greek chorus. Her symbol is a lyre and she is often depicted playing this instrument in a seated position. She is sometimes said to be the mother of the Sirens by Achelous.
Urania was the philosophical Muse who was the patron of astronomy and the constellations. She possessed the gift of prophecy by reading the stars. Her name derives from the Greek word for ‘heavenly’. Her symbols are the globe and the compass and she is usually depicted with in a cloak embroidered with stars, staring at the Heavens.
Melpomene was the Muse who was first represented song and then became the patron of tragedy. Her name was derived from the Greek words meaning “to celebrate with dance and song.” She is often represented with a tragic mask and wearing the cothurnus, boots traditionally worn by actors in tragedies.
Polyhymnia was the serious, eloquent Muse who was the patron of religious hymns, prayer and sacred dance. Her symbol is a veil which implies the traits of a virgin priestess. She is and also associated with meditation and this is reflected by depictions of her leaning on a column apparently in deep thought.
So ends the lesson on Muses. I’ve been obsessed with Muses for the last three months because mine seemed to have deserted me. I’ve been working on the fifth novel in my series, The Fair and Fey. I originally had a goal of having it ready for final editing by November 1st of 2017 so it would be out before Christmas. I hoped to catch Christmas sales. Well here it is mid January and I’ve made almost zero progress since all progress stopped in mid October — because Calliope had deserted me. Perhaps she’s been busy helping other authors. I used to get my ideas from dreams. I’m pretty sure these dreams were inspired by my Muse. In October the dreams stopped coming and it didn’t feel right trying to write mechanically with no inspiration.
I kept trying to recapture my inspiration. Every day I would go through my manuscript, making a correction here and there, perhaps even adding or deleting sentences. But no real progress. And there were only two more chapters to go!! “Come on Calliope,” I screamed, “I need you!” Well yesterday she returned and the ideas started coming to me faster than I could write them down. Looks like book 5 will get finished after all. I’m guessing it will only take one more month before it’s ready for finally editing and then a couple of weeks in editing will make it a wrap. Yay! Thank you Calliope!!!
Here is one more picture of a few of the Muses in a serene pastoral setting, three of them loving on each other. I think they might be bisexual like some of the Elves in my stories. I think this is the most beautiful of all the paintings of Muses I found online.