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Wednesday, May 24, 2023


In Greek and Roman mythology the Muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. They were in charge of inspiring the arts and sciences. Also, they were goddesses who danced a lot.

Calliope was the muse of eloquence and epic, heroic poetry. Somehow, this is also the name for the steam-whistle organ. Its shrill voice can be heard for miles and is played at circuses and county fairs to pull in the marks. Make it make sense, please.

Clio was the muse of history and creativity. She was also the goddess of memory. History, memory and creativity. I’m guessing this would be Obama’s muse. He knows history, has an excellent memory and a deeply creative mind.

Erato, muse of lyric poetry, particularly erotic poetry. Given that this sort of work is/was often intended to be sung (as in song lyrics, duh), I’ve just got to figure that Erato was whispering in Trent Reznor’s ear when he wrote Closer.

Euterpe was the muse of music and lyric poetry. I guess Euterpe specialized more in non sexy songs. Possibly John Lennon’s muse? Robert Plant’s? Paul Simon’s?

Melpomene was the muse of tragedy. Sounds like a total bummer BUT, c’mon, have you seen Warhol’s Death and Disaster series? What about Francis Bacon’s Screaming Pope  or, frankly, any of Bacon’s grizzly work. Tragedy can be deep, transformational and inspiring.

Polyhymnia—muse of sacred poetry and hymns. She’s also considered to be the muse of geometry, meditation and agriculture.

Geometry AND hymns? Ya know, I can see meditation and agriculture going together but math and some of the crappiest songs ever written? Sure, there’s Handel's Messiah,  the Hallelujah Chorus and all that but, seriously now, most church music blows major chunks. The Old Rugged Cross? How Great Thou Art? Please, mes amis, please—that’s some seriously dull, uninspiring bullshit. Amazing Grace? If Aretha’s singing it, oh baby, yes. If not? meh.

I feel bad for Polyhymnia. It’s like she was the last muse in line when Zeus was handing out responsibilities. She got stuck with all the disparate bits.

Terpsichore was the one who oversaw dance. She was also considered the mother of mermaids. But…but…mermaids can’t dance. Oh wait, as long as they’re in water, of course they can.

Thalia was the muse of comedy. Robin Williams, Richard Pryor and Mel Brooks undoubtedly had/have deep personal relationships with her.

Urania was the muse of mathematics and of all the exact sciences. You know, physics, chemistry, astronomy—that sort of thing. How's come there are three muses for poetry but only one for science and just two for math?

Note bene, there is NO muse for painting or sculpture and yet there are, again, THREE babes in charge of poetry. What the fucking hell Zeus? Mnemosyne, you got anything to say on this?

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