The Muses in Greek mythology are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths.
In one myth, King Pierus, king of Macedon, had nine daughters he named after the nine Muses, believing that their skills were a great match to the Muses. He thus challenged the Muses to a match, resulting in his daughters, the Pierides, being turned into chattering magpies for their presumption.
Sometimes they are referred to as water nymphs, associated with the springs of Helicon and with Pieris.The winged horse Pegasus touched his hooves to the ground on Helicon, causing four sacred springs to ‘burst forth’, from which the muses were born. Athena later tamed the horse and presented him to the muses.
Muses in modern English to refer to an artistic inspiration. If your Muse is whispering in your ear then the words flow on the page.
There were nine Muses according to Hesiod, protecting a different art and being symbolised with a different item:
Calliope (epic poetry – writing tablet)
Clio (history – scroll)
Euterpe (lyric poetry – aulos, a Greek flute)
Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry – comic mask)
Melpomene (tragedy – tragic mask)
Terpsichore (dance – lyre)
Erato (love poetry – cithara, a Greek type of lyre)
Polyhymnia (sacred poetry – veil
Urania (astronomy – globe and compass)
In writing and poetry there is often an issue with writers block. Times when we think that our personal muse has deserted us. Finding ways around it we practice cheats. Playing with words until something starts to emerge on the page. Maybe that is when our Muses come back to us…