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Muses

The nine muses were the offsprings of Zeus and his aunt, Titaness Mnemosyne ("Memory"). Though not all stories agree with the specific functions of individual goddesses, they are usually identified as follows:
  1. Clio - History
  2. Euterpe - Music and lyric poetry
  3. Thalia - Comedy
  4. Melpomene - Tragedy
  5. Terpsichore - Dance
  6. Erato - Love poetry and marriage songs
  7. Polyhymnia - Sacred song and oratory
  8. Urania - Astronomy
  9. Calliope - Epic or heroic poetry

In ancient times, all learning was under the patronage of the Muses, and they were the inspirers of poetry, music, and art. It was common for schools to have a shrine to the Muses, and any place dedicated to them was known as a mouseion, the source of our word "museum."

When Plato founded the Academy, he dedicated a shrine to the goddesses of learning. Aristotle's school, the Peripatos, also possessed a shrine which contained their statues.

The famous Museum at Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I, was a temple of learning dedicated to them. As a custom, before poets or storytellers would recite their work, they first invoke the inspiration and protection of the Muses.



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