Of all the Olympic deities, none occupy a more distinguished position than the Muses, the nine beautiful daughters of Zeus and the Titaness Mnemosyne. The libations to these divinities consisted of water, milk, and honey, but never of wine. Their names and functions are as follows: CALLIOPE The most honoured of the Muses, presided over heroic song and epic poetry, and is represented with a pencil in her hand, and a slate upon her knee. CLIO The muse of History, holds in her hand a roll of parchment, and wears a wreath of laurel. MELPOMENE The muse of Tragedy, bears a tragic mask. THALIA The muse of Comedy, carries in her right hand a shepherd's crook, and has a comic mask beside her. POLYHYMNIA The muse of Sacred Hymns, is crowned with a wreath of laurel. She is always represented in a thoughtful attitude, and entirely enveloped in rich folds of drapery. TERPSICHORE The muse of Dance, is represented in the act of playing on a seven-stringed lyre. URANIA The muse of Astronomy, stands erect, and bears in her left hand a celestial globe. EUTERPE The muse of Harmony, is represented bearing a musical instrument, usually a flute. ERATO The muse of Love and hymeneal songs, wears a wreath of laurel, and is striking the chords of a lyre. In their original signification, they presided merely over music, song, and dance; but with the progress of civilization the arts and sciences claimed their special presiding divinities, and we see these graceful creations, in later times, sharing among them various functions, such as poetry, astronomy, etc. The Muses were honored alike by mortals and immortals. In Olympus, where Apollo acted as their leader, no banquet or festivity was considered complete without their joy-inspiring presence, and on earth no social gathering was celebrated without libations being poured out to them; nor was any task involving intellectual effort ever undertaken, without earnestly supplicating their assistance. They endowed their chosen favourites with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding; they bestowed upon the orator the gift of eloquence, inspired the poet with his noblest thoughts, and the musician with his sweetest harmonies. They dwelt on the summits of Mounts Helicon, Parnassus, and Pindus, and loved to haunt the springs and fountains which gushed forth amidst these rocky heights, all of which were sacred to them and to poetic inspiration. Aganippe and Hippocrene on Mount Helicon, and the Castalian spring on Mount Parnassus, were sacred to the Muses. The latter flowed between two lofty rocks above the city of Delphi, and in ancient times its waters were introduced into a square stone basin, where they were retained for the use of the Pythia and the priests of Apollo.

Greek myth > The Muses