Muse

For other uses see Muse (disambiguation).

In Greek mythology, the Muses (Greek Μουσαι, Mousai) are nine archaic goddesses who embody the right evocation of myth, inspired through remembered and improvised song and traditional music and dances. They were water nymphs, associated with the springs of Helicon and Pieris. The Olympian system set Apollo as their leader, Apollon Mousagetes.

According to Hesiod's Theogony, they are the daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. For Alcman and Mimnermus, they were even more primordial, springing from Uranus and Gaia.

Compare the Roman inspiring nymphs of springs, the Camenae.

Muses in myth

According to Pausanias there were three original Muses: Aoide ("song", "voice"), Melete ("practice" or "occasion") and Mneme ("memory") (Paus. 9.29.1). Together, they form the complete picture of the preconditions of poetic art in cult practice.

The canonical nine Muses are:

  • Euterpe (music)
  • Calliope (epic poetry)
  • Clio (history)
  • Erato (lyric poetry)
  • Melpomene (tragedy)
  • Polyhymnia (sacred poetry)
  • Terpsichore (dancing)
  • Thalia (comedy)
  • Urania (astronomy)

Together, they form a complete picture of the subjects proper to poetic art in the archaic period. However, the association of specific muses with specific art forms is a later innovation, and has been called pedantic.

In Roman, Renaissance and Neoclassical art, Muses depicted in sculptures or paintings are often distinguished by certain props or poses, as emblems. Euterpe (music) carries a flute; Calliope (epic poetry) carries a writing tablet; Clio (history) carries a scroll and books; Erato (lyric poetry) is often seen with a lyre and a crown of roses; Melpomene (tragedy) is often seen with a tragic mask; Polyhymnia (sacred poetry) is often seen with a pensive expression; Terpsichore (dancing) is often seen dancing and carrying a lyre; Thalia (comedy) is often seen with a comic mask; and Urania (astronomy) carries a staff pointed at a celestial globe.

Function in Society

Greek mousa is a common noun as well as a type of goddess: it literally means "song" or "poem". In Pindar, to "carry a mousa" is "to sing a song". The word is probably derived from the Indo-European root *men-, which is also the source of Greek Mnemosyne, Latin Minerva, and English "mind", "mental" and "memory".

The Muses were therefore both the embodiments and sponsors of performed metrical speech: mousike, whence "music", was the art of the Muses. In the archaic period, before the widespread availability of books, this included nearly all of learning: the first Greek book on astronomy, by Thales, was set in dactylic hexameter, as were many works of pre-Socratic philosophy; both Plato and the Pythagoreans explicitly included philosophy as a sub-species of mousike (Strabo 10.3.10). Herodotus, whose primary medium of delivery was public recitation, named each one of the nine books of his Histories after a different Muse.

For poet and lawgiver Solon (fragment 13), the Muses were the key to the good life, since they brought both prosperity and friendship. Solon sought to perpetuate his political reforms by establishing recitations of his poetry—complete with invocations to his practical-minded Muses—by Athenian boys at festivals every year.

The Muses judged the contest between Apollo and Marsyas. They also gathered the pieces of the dead body of Orpheus, son of Calliope, and buried them. They blinded Thamyris for his hubris in challenging them to a contest.

Function in literature

The muses are typically invoked at or near the beginning of an epic poem or story. They have served as aid to an author, or as the true speaker for which an author is only a mouthpiece. Originally the invocation of the Muse was an indication that the speaker was working inside the poetic tradition, according to the established formulae.

Two classic examples: Homer, Book I of The Odyssey:

"Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious hero
who travelled far and wide
after he had sacked the famous town of Troy."

... And Dante Alighieri, in Canto II of The Inferno:

O Muses, o high genious, aid me now!
O memory that noted what I saw,
Now shall your true nobility be seen!

Cults of the Muses

When Pythagoras arrived at Croton, his first advice to the Crotoniates was to build a shrine of the Muses at the center of the city, to promote civic harmony and learning.

Local cults of the Muses were often associated with springs or fountains. They were sometimes called Aganippids because of their association with a fountain called Aganippe. Other fountains, called Hippocrene and Pirene were also important to the Muses. The Muses were also occasionally referred to as Corycides or Corycian nymphs after a cave on Mount Parnassos called the Corycian Cave.

The Muses were especially venerated in Boeotia, near Helicon, and in Delphi and the Parnassus, where Apollo became known as Mousagetes "Muse-leader".

Muse-worship was also often associated with the hero-cults of poets: the tombs of Archilochus on Thasos and Hesiod and Thamyris (whom they blinded) in Boeotia all played host to festivals in which poetic recitations were accompanied by sacrifices to the Muses.

The Library of Alexandria and its circle of scholars were formed around a mousaion ("museum" or shrine of the Muses) close by the tomb of Alexander the Great.

Many Enlightenment figures sought to re-establish a "Cult of the Muses" in the 18th century. A popular Masonic lodge in pre-Revolutionary Paris was called Neuf Soeurs ("nine sisters", i.e. nine Muses), and was attended by Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. One side-effect of this movement was the use of the word "museum" (originally, "cult place of the Muses") to refer to a place for the public display of knowledge.

The classical tradition

The poet Sappho of Lesbos was also paid the very great compliment of being called "the tenth Muse".

The word muse is used figuratively to denote someone who inspires an artist.


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The word muse is used figuratively to denote someone who inspires an artist. It was also released on some "Rocafella Records" B-sides and some street "mixtapes" by Eminem's "Shady Records" and other mixtapes made by street DJs. The poet Sappho of Lesbos was also paid the very great compliment of being called "the tenth Muse". It got out as a single and hit New York radio stations as a big hit. One side-effect of this movement was the use of the word "museum" (originally, "cult place of the Muses") to refer to a place for the public display of knowledge. In 2003, Puff Daddy gave 50 Cent rights to sample Biggie's verses from "Niggas" (a song from the Born Again album) into a song called "To All My Niggas". nine Muses), and was attended by Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. The video for the song also featured appearances by 98 Degrees and Fat Joe.

A popular Masonic lodge in pre-Revolutionary Paris was called Neuf Soeurs ("nine sisters", i.e. Diddy. Many Enlightenment figures sought to re-establish a "Cult of the Muses" in the 18th century. It featured guest raps from Biggie's friends, Lil Kim and P. The Library of Alexandria and its circle of scholars were formed around a mousaion ("museum" or shrine of the Muses) close by the tomb of Alexander the Great. It had a hit single called "N.O.T.O.R.I.O.U.S" (interpolation to the Duran Duran's song of the same name) that wasn't a tribute, but was a "shout out" to the slain rapper. Muse-worship was also often associated with the hero-cults of poets: the tombs of Archilochus on Thasos and Hesiod and Thamyris (whom they blinded) in Boeotia all played host to festivals in which poetic recitations were accompanied by sacrifices to the Muses. Puff Daddy released Biggie's third album, Born Again.

The Muses were especially venerated in Boeotia, near Helicon, and in Delphi and the Parnassus, where Apollo became known as Mousagetes "Muse-leader". album. The Muses were also occasionally referred to as Corycides or Corycian nymphs after a cave on Mount Parnassos called the Corycian Cave. The year 1999 saw another release of a posthumous Notorious B.I.G. Other fountains, called Hippocrene and Pirene were also important to the Muses. Biggie's biggest chart hit was with the song "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems," an upbeat number featuring rappers Mase and Puff Daddy, and sampling the disco song "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross for the beat. They were sometimes called Aganippids because of their association with a fountain called Aganippe. The song sampled the melody of The Police's hit song "Every Breath You Take." All these artists performed the song with (former Police vocalist) Sting during the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.

Local cults of the Muses were often associated with springs or fountains. The song featured Puff Daddy, Wallace's widow Faith Evans and R&B group 112. When Pythagoras arrived at Croton, his first advice to the Crotoniates was to build a shrine of the Muses at the center of the city, to promote civic harmony and learning. However, the single that carried this album to the top was "I'll Be Missing You", a tribute and a massively successful single dedicated to Biggie. And Dante Alighieri, in Canto II of The Inferno:. At the end of 1997, Puff Daddy released his debut album "No Way Out," which featured Biggie on a number of songs, notably in the chorus of the single "Been Around the World" over David Bowie's sample ("Let's Dance!"). .. The album sold 10 million copies, probably due in part to its timely posthumous release, and it is still the biggest selling hip-hop album of all time.

Two classic examples: Homer, Book I of The Odyssey:. It hit number one on the Billboard charts and spawned several hit singles in the United States. Originally the invocation of the Muse was an indication that the speaker was working inside the poetic tradition, according to the established formulae. The album was released only two weeks after Biggie's murder. They have served as aid to an author, or as the true speaker for which an author is only a mouthpiece. Life After Death, Biggie's second album, was released posthumously and debuted at #1 on the charts. The muses are typically invoked at or near the beginning of an epic poem or story. Additionally, Director Nick Broomfield has released an investigative documentary called 'Biggie and Tupac' which implicates the LAPD and Suge Knight, and the Los Angeles Times ran an article entitled "Who Shot Tupac Shakur?" by reporter Chuck Phillips, which concludes that Biggie Smalls was ultimately behind the Las Vegas shooting of Tupac.

They blinded Thamyris for his hubris in challenging them to a contest. In his book, LAbyrinth, LAPD officer Randall Sullivan probes the circumstances and figures involved in the shootings. They also gathered the pieces of the dead body of Orpheus, son of Calliope, and buried them. Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight and the Mob Piru Bloods gang with whom he associates are among the prime suspects for involvement. The Muses judged the contest between Apollo and Marsyas. Neither murder has been conclusively solved, though theories abound as to the motives and identities of the murderers. Solon sought to perpetuate his political reforms by establishing recitations of his poetry—complete with invocations to his practical-minded Muses—by Athenian boys at festivals every year. On March 9, 1997, the horrific events came full circle when Biggie was shot and killed in Los Angeles, where he had been attending the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Center.

For poet and lawgiver Solon (fragment 13), the Muses were the key to the good life, since they brought both prosperity and friendship. Rumors of Biggie's possible involvement in the murder cropped up almost immediately. Herodotus, whose primary medium of delivery was public recitation, named each one of the nine books of his Histories after a different Muse. The second of these shootings was fatal, taking place in Las Vegas, where Tupac had been watching a boxing match. In the archaic period, before the widespread availability of books, this included nearly all of learning: the first Greek book on astronomy, by Thales, was set in dactylic hexameter, as were many works of pre-Socratic philosophy; both Plato and the Pythagoreans explicitly included philosophy as a sub-species of mousike (Strabo 10.3.10). This feud hung over a period of highly publicized rap violence that began with two shootings in which Shakur was the victim. The Muses were therefore both the embodiments and sponsors of performed metrical speech: mousike, whence "music", was the art of the Muses. This rivalry existed between Biggie and Death Row rap superstar Tupac Shakur, a New York City native, who relocated to Los Angeles and Death Row Records because of the feud.

The word is probably derived from the Indo-European root *men-, which is also the source of Greek Mnemosyne, Latin Minerva, and English "mind", "mental" and "memory". Although Ready to Die brought massive fame to Biggie, he is most famed for his somewhat overplayed and ultimately tragic involvement in rap's most famous feud between the East and West Coast scenes. In Pindar, to "carry a mousa" is "to sing a song". "One More Chance," which sampled the R&B song "Stay With Me," was a remix of the song by the same name that originally appeared on Ready to Die.. Greek mousa is a common noun as well as a type of goddess: it literally means "song" or "poem". That same year, B.I.G.'s single One More Chance debuted at #5 on the Pop Charts, tying Scream/Childhood as the highest debut single in music history. In Roman, Renaissance and Neoclassical art, Muses depicted in sculptures or paintings are often distinguished by certain props or poses, as emblems. Euterpe (music) carries a flute; Calliope (epic poetry) carries a writing tablet; Clio (history) carries a scroll and books; Erato (lyric poetry) is often seen with a lyre and a crown of roses; Melpomene (tragedy) is often seen with a tragic mask; Polyhymnia (sacred poetry) is often seen with a pensive expression; Terpsichore (dancing) is often seen dancing and carrying a lyre; Thalia (comedy) is often seen with a comic mask; and Urania (astronomy) carries a staff pointed at a celestial globe. That same year saw the mainstream introduction of Biggie's labelmates Lil' Kim and Lil' Caesar by the rap star.

However, the association of specific muses with specific art forms is a later innovation, and has been called pedantic. (Junior Masters At Finding Intelligent Attitudes) released the album Conspiracy. Together, they form a complete picture of the subjects proper to poetic art in the archaic period. In 1995, Biggie's new group Junior M.A.F.I.A. The canonical nine Muses are:. The album features one of rap's most famous playa anthems, the song "Big Poppa." Biggie's album drew critical acclaim for its vivid story-telling and razor-sharp lyricism, such as "They don't know about the stress filled day/Baby on the way, mad bills to pay/That's why you drink tanqueray/So you can reminisce and wish/You wasn't living so devilish." The album is considered by many to be one of the best and most hardcore hip-hop albums of all time. Together, they form the complete picture of the preconditions of poetic art in cult practice. Ready to Die is regarded as one of hip-hop's all-time classic albums.

9.29.1). Blige on What's the 411?, then released Ready to Die, his debut album, in 1994. According to Pausanias there were three original Muses: Aoide ("song", "voice"), Melete ("practice" or "occasion") and Mneme ("memory") (Paus. He first gained notice for working with Mary J. Compare the Roman inspiring nymphs of springs, the Camenae. In his lyrics, Biggie also referred to himself under the alias Frank White (taken from the 1990 movie King of New York starring Christopher Walken). For Alcman and Mimnermus, they were even more primordial, springing from Uranus and Gaia. Christopher Wallace (May 21, 1972 - March 9, 1997), also known as Biggie Smalls (after a stylish gangster in the 1975 comedy, Let's Do it Again), but best known as The Notorious B.I.G. (Business Instead of Game)., was a popular Brooklyn-born rapper of the mid-1990s.

According to Hesiod's Theogony, they are the daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. Born Again (Bad Boy Records, 1999). The Olympian system set Apollo as their leader, Apollon Mousagetes.. Life After Death (Bad Boy Records, 1997). They were water nymphs, associated with the springs of Helicon and Pieris. Ready to Die (Bad Boy Records, 1995). In Greek mythology, the Muses (Greek Μουσαι, Mousai) are nine archaic goddesses who embody the right evocation of myth, inspired through remembered and improvised song and traditional music and dances. Download sample of "Niggas Bleed" from Life After Death.

Urania (astronomy). Thalia (comedy). Terpsichore (dancing). Polyhymnia (sacred poetry).

Melpomene (tragedy). Erato (lyric poetry). Clio (history). Calliope (epic poetry).

Euterpe (music).

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