The nine Muses were the goddesses the arts. At one point it was believed that there were only three muses, but the currently accepted understanding is that there were nine. Each muse had a different type of art they commanded.
Calliope was considered the muse of epic poetry and speech. She was considered the wisest of the Muses, and the chief Muse. One myth describes how she won a singing competition against the daughters of Pierus. As punishment for their arrogance, she turned them into magpies.
Clio (sometimes spelled “Kleio”) was the muse of history. She was considered “The Proclaimer.” She would often retell historic events. She was known for celebrating the accomplishments and achievements of others. She could make one famous by retelling their feats. Clio has a son named Hyancinth. Although there are conflicting stories about who the father was.
Euterpe was the muse of music and lyric poetry. Some accounts say she was responsible for inventing the double-flute. Others say it was invented by Marsyas or Athena instead. Most renditions of Euterpe show her with a flute.
Terpsichore was the muse of dance and chorus. She is often shown holding a lyre. She is said to be the mother of several sirens. Her name comes from the Greek word “delight.”
Thalia (sometimes spelled “Thaleia”) was the muse of comedy, and short poems detailing daily struggles. She was depicted as joyous, and carried a smiling mask and a trumpet. Her name roughly translates to “flourishing,” because her praises gleefully continued through time.
Melpomene was the muse of chorus, who later became the muse of tragedy. She is often shown with a tragedy mask in one hand, and a knife or club in the other. Some sources say she is the mother of several sirens. It was said that she cursed Persephone’s handmaidens when they failed to prevent Persephone’s abduction by Hades.
Erato was the muse of love poetry. She is sometimes seen accompanied by Eros. She was depicted with a lyre or a kithara. She was said to inspire love in everybody.
Polyhymnia was the muse of sacred arts, hymns, and pantomime. She was considered very serious and pensive. She was often portrayed as wearing long cloaks or veils, and holding a finger to her mouth.
Urania was the muse of astronomy. She often dressed in cloaks decorated with the stars. She often held a globe in her hand. She would gaze at the stars often, and could predict the future based on what she saw.
Some sources say the Muses were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory.) Some say they were primordial, and existed before the gods. Some sources say they were water nymphs.
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