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date: 22 May 2024



  • A. Schachter


Muses, goddesses upon whom poets—and later other artists, philosophers, and intellectuals generally—depended for the ability to create their works. They were goddesses, not lesser immortals, not only because of their pedigre (s) and their home on *Olympus (1). They are called goddesses from the earliest sources on, and their attitude to mankind is identical to that of gods: they do not hesitate to destroy a mortal who dares to usurp their place (so *Thamyris, whom they maimed and deprived of his skill: Hom.Il. 2. 594–600), and they are divinely contemptuous of humankind (it does not matter to them whether the poetry they inspire is true or false: Hes.Theog. 26–8). Muses appear both singly and in groups of varying sizes (West, on Theog. 60). Homer, for example, addresses a single goddess or Muse but knows there are more (the Thamyris story). The canonical nine and their names probably originated with *Hesiod (West on Theogony 76).


  • Greek Myth and Religion

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