Erato is considered to be one of the nine Muses in Greek mythology. Her name has the same root as Eros, the god of desire and her name means “desired”, “beloved” or “lovely”. Erato is the muse of erotic poetry and love poetry. In most Orphic hymns, it is Erato that charms the sight. She is often portrayed with roses and holding a musical instrument like the kithara or the lyre. Both instruments are also often associated with Apollo, the god of the sun and poetry. Some representations reveal her with doves and arrows. She may also be a companion of Eros who hold the torch to light desire.
In Hesiod’s Theogony, Erato is named as one of the nine muses. Erato also makes an appearance in the story of Rhadine and Leontichus, the star-crossed lovers. Rhadine was supposed to marry a man from Corinth but had an affair with Leontichus. The tyrant from Corinth she was supposed to marry became angered after discovering the affair and killed them both. Their tomb was located on Samos and was considered to be the tomb of Erato. The tomb became a pilgrimage sight for lovers throughout the age of the Pausanias.
Plato also mentions Erato in the Phaedrus and Virgil’s Aeneid. He dedicates the second part of the Iliad section to her and invokes her at the beginning of the seventh book to inspire him. Though this section is centered on the epic and tragic poetry, which would be the realm of Erato’s sisters, Calliope and Melpomene, he still invokes Erato.
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