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presiding over the different kinds of poetry, and over the arts an<| sciences. They were originally regarded as the nymphs of inspiring wells, near which they were worshipped, and bore different names in different places, until the Thraco-Boeotian worship of the nine Muses spread from Boeotia over other parts of Greece, and ultimately became generally established. (Respecting the Muses conceived as nymphs see Schol. ad Theocrit. vii. 92 ; Hesych. s. v. Nv/J.Qr]; Steph. Byz. s. v. To/3/tySos ; Serv. ad Virg. Eclog. vii. 21.)
The genealogy of the Muses is not the same in all writers. The most common notion was, that they were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, and born in Pieria, at the foot of Mount Olympus (Hes. Theog. 52, &c., 915 ; Horn. II. ii. 491, Od. i. 10 ; Apollod. i. 3. § 1) ; but some call them the daughters of Uranus and Gaea (Schol. ad Find. Nem. iii. 16 ; Pans. ix. 29. § 2 ; Diod. iv. 7 ; Arnob. adv. Gent. iii. 37), and others daughters of Pierus and a Pimpleian nymph, whom Cicero (De Nat. Deor. iii. 21) calls Antiope (Tzetz. ad Hes. Op. et D. p. 6 ; Paus. I. c.), or of Apollo, or of Zeus and Plusia, or of Zeus and Moneta, probably a mere translation of Mnemosyne or Mneme, whence they are called Mnemonides (Ov. Met. v. 268), or of Zeus and Minerva (Isid. Orig. iii. 14), or lastly of Aether and Gaea. (Hygin. Fab. Praef.) Eupheme is called the nurse of the Muses, and at the foot of Mount Helicon her statue stood beside that of Linus. (Paus. ix. 29. § 3.)
With regard to the number of the Muses, we are informed that originally three were worshipped on Mount Helicon in Boeotia, namely, Melete (meditation), Mneme (memory),and Aoede (song); and their worship and names are said to have been first introduced by Ephialtes and Otus. (Paus. ix. 29. § 1, &c.) Three were also recognised at Si-cyon, where one of them bore the name of Polyma-theia (Plut. Sympos. ix. 14), and at Delphi, where their names were identical with those of the lowest, middle, and highest chord of the lyre, viz, Nete, Mese, and Hypate (Plut. I. c.), or Cephisso, Apollonis, and Borysthenis, which names characterise them as the daughters of Apollo. (Tzetz.
I. g. ; Arnob. iii. 37 ; Serv. ad Virg. Eclog. vii. 21 ; Diod. iv. 7.) As daughters of Zeus and Plusia we find mention of four Muses, viz. Thelxi-noe (the heart delighting), Aoede (song), Arche (beginning), and Melete. (Cic., Arnob., Tzetz.
II. cc.; Serv. ad Aen. i. 12.) Some accounts, again, in which they are called daughters of Pierus, mention seven Muses, viz. Neilo, Tritone, Asopo, Heptapora, Achelois, Tipoplo, and Rhodia (Tzetz. Arnob. II. cc.), and others, lastly, mention eight, which is also said to have been the number recognised at Athens. (Arnob. I. c.; Serv. ad Aen. i. 12 ; Plat. De Re Pull. p. 116.) At length, however, the number nine appears to have become established in all Greece. Homer sometimes mentions Musa only in the singular, and sometimes Musae in the plural, and once only (Od. .xxiv. 60) he speaks of nine Muses, though without mentioning any of their names. Hesiod (Theog. 77. &c.) is the first that states, the names of all the nine, and these nine names henceforth became established. They are Cleio, Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Urania, and Calliope. Plutarch (I. c.) states that in some places all nine were designated by the common name Mneiae, i. e. Remembrances.
If we now inquire into the notions entertained about the nature and character of the Muses, we find that, in the Homeric poems, they are the goddesses of song and poetry, and live in Olympus. (II. ii. 484.) There they sing the festive songs at the repasts of the immortals (II. i. 604, Hymn, in Apoll. Pyih. 11), and at the funeral of Patroclus they sing lamentations. (Od. xxiv. 60 ; comp. Pind. Isthm. viii. 126.) The power Which we find most frequently assigned to them, is that of bringing before the mind of the mortal poet the events which he has to relate ; and that of conferring upon him the gift of song, and of giving gracefulness to what he utters. (//. ii. 484, 491, 761, Od. i. 1, viii. 63, &c., 481, 488 ; Eustath. ad Horn. p. 259.) There seems to be no reason for doubting that the earliest poets in their invocation of the Muse or Muses were perfectly sincere, and that they actually believed in their being inspired by the goddesses; but in later times among the Greeks and the Romans, as well as in our own days, the invocation of the Muses is a mere formal imitation of the early poets. Thamyris, who presumed to excel the Muses, was deprived by them of the gift they had bestowed on him, and punished with blindness. (Horn. II. ii. 594, &c. ; Apollod. i. 3. § 3.) The Seirens, who likewise ventured upon a contest with them, were deprived of the feathers of their wings, and the Muses themselves put them on as an ornament (Eustath; ad Horn. p. 85) ; and the nine daughters of Pierus, who presumed to rival the Muses, were metamorphosed into birds. (Anton. Lib. 9 ; Ov. Met. v. 300, &c.) As poets and bards derived their power from them, they are frequently called either their disciples or sons. (Horn. Od. viii. 481, Hymn, in Lun. 20 ; Hes. TJieog. 22 ; Pind. Nem. iii. 1 ; Serv. ad Virg. Georg. ii. 476.) Thus Linus is called a son of Amphimarus and Urania (Paus. ix. 29. § 3), or of Apollo and Calliope, or Terpsichore (Apollod. i. 3. § 2) ; Hyacinthus a son of Pierus and Cleio (Apollod. i. 3. § 3) ; Orpheus a son of Calliope or Cleio, and Thamyris a son of Erato. These and a few others are the cases in which the Muses are described as mothers ; but the more general idea was, that, like other nymphs, they were virgin divinities. Being goddesses of song, they are naturally connected with Apollo, the god of the lyre, who like them instructs the bards, and is mentioned along with them even by Homer. (II. i. 603, Od. viii. 488.) In later times Apollo is placed in very close connection with the Muses, for he is described as the leader of the choir of the Muses by the surname Movffayerirjs. (Diod. i. 18.) A further feature in the character of the Muses is their prophetic power, which belongs to them, partly because they were regarded as inspiring nymphs, and partly because of their connection with the prophetic god of Delphi. Hence, they instructed, for example, Aristaeus in the art of prophecy. (Apollon. Rhod. ii. 512.) That dancing, too, was one of the occupations of the Muses, may be inferred from the close connection existing among the Greeks between music, poetry, and dancing. As the inspiring nymphs loved to dwell on Mount Helicon, they were naturally associated with Dionysus and dramatic poetry, and hence they are described as the companions, playmates, or nurses of Dionysus.
The worship of the Muses points originally to Thrace and Pieria about mount Olympas, from whence it waa introduced into Boeotia, in such a