Practice, Memory and Song were technology the Muses provided to humanity in order for us to learn History, Astronomy and Music for their delight and learning.
*References on this post are from information at theoi.com which is a wonderful resource for Greek Mythology
THE MOUSAI (Muses) were the goddesses of music, song and dance, and the source of inspiration to poets. They were also goddesses of knowledge, who remembered all things that had come to pass. Later the Mousai were assigned specific artistic spheres: Kalliope (Calliope – Harmony of Voice), epic poetry; Kleio (Clio), history; Ourania (Urania), astronomy; Thaleia (Thalia), comedy; Melpomene, tragedy; Polymnia (Polyhymnia), religious hymns; Erato, erotic poetry; Euterpe, lyric poetry; and Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), choral song and dance – from Theoi.com
Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 21 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
“Again the first set of Musae …the daughters of the second Jupiter – Ouranos (Uranus) …Melete (Practice), Mneme (Memory) Aode (Song).
Mneme seems to be the most basic of the names, this literally means memory. We all know what memes are. That is actually a re-introduction of a very old word. Mnemosyne, she was a Greek Titan Goddess but I believe the original Mousai were children of Gaia and Uranus. Either way, The Muses were responsible for Memory. And, if we need to reconnect to our memories then we should invoke the Muses. There were three known facets of Memory: Practice, Memorization, and Song. It is one pie with 3 pieces. These three pieces became a fractal and the nine were born or rather expanded upon as humanity learned. Since we have lost our way, it might be good to return to the basics of memory. Let’s talk about it.
Arnobius, Against the Heathen 3. 37 (Roman Christian rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
“We are told by Mnaseas [Greek writer C3rd B.C.] that the Muses are the daughters of Tellus [Gaia the Earth] and Coelus [Ouranos, Heaven]
Homeric Hymn 4 to Hermes 428 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th – 4th B.C.) :
“First among the gods he [Hermes, inventor of the lyre] honoured Mnemosyne, (mother of the Mousai (Muses), in his song; for the son of Gaia was of her following.”
Pindar, Nemean Ode 7. 12 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“If success crowns a man’s venture, sweeter then than honey the them he pours into the Moisai’s (Muses’) stream. But lacking the songs to praise them, the mightiest feats of valour can but find a sorry grave a deep darkness. But for fine deeds a mirror to establish, one way alone we know if Mnamosyna’s (Mnemosyne’s, Memory’s) shining diadem will grant recompense for their labours, in the glory of music on the tongues of men.“.
|Greek Name||Transliteration||Latin Spelling||Translation|
And NOW the inverse:
THE RIVER-GOD LETHE
Orphic Hymn 85 to Hypnus (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
“Thanatos (Death), and Lethe (Forgetfulness) with oblivious stream, mankind thy [Hypnos’] genuine brothers justly deem.”
LETHE (Lêthê), the personification of oblivion, is called by Hesiod (Theog. 227) a daughter of Eris. A river in the lower world likewise bore the name of Lethe.
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
SO NOW LETS LOOK AT A REAL MUSE (also called Mousa)
HER NAME IS SAPPHO
Sappho played a cithara
and her words speak louder than the images…
Peer of the gods, the happiest man I seem Sitting before thee, rapt at thy sight, hearing Thy soft laughter and they voice most gentle, Speaking so sweetly. Then in my bosom my heart wildly flutters, And, when on thee I gaze never so little, Bereft am I of all power of utterance, My tongue is useless. There rushes at once through my flesh tingling fire, My eyes are deprived of all power of vision, My ears hear nothing by sounds of winds roaring, And all is blackness. Down courses in streams the sweat of emotion, A dread trembling o’erwhelms me, paler than I Than dried grass in autumn, and in my madness Dead I seem almost.
He seems to me equal to the gods that man whoever he is who opposite you sits and listens close to your sweet speaking and lovely laughing — oh it puts the heart in my chest on wings for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking is left in me no: tongue breaks and thin fire is racing under skin and in eyes no sight and drumming fills ears and cold sweat holds me and shaking grips me all, greener than grass I am and dead — or almost I seem to me. But all is to be dared…
.Cyprus… …The herald Idaios came…a swift messenger …and the rest of Asia…unwilting glory (kleos aphthiton). Hektor and his companions led the dark-eyed luxuriant Andromache from holy Thebes and…Plakia in ships upon the salty sea. Many golden bracelets and purple garments…, ornaments with many different patterns, countless silver cups and ivory. Thus he spoke. And his dear father quickly leapt up. And the story went to his friends through the broad city. Straightaway the Trojans joined mules to smooth-running carriages, And the whole band of women and…maidens got on. Separately, the daughters of Priam… And the unmarried men led horses beneath the chariots and greatly…charioteers… [ [ [ …like the gods …holy set forth into Troy… And the sweet song of the flute mixed… And the sound of the castanets, and then the maidens sang a sacred song and a wondrous echo reached the heavens… And everywhere through the streets… Mixing bowls and cups… And myrrh and cassia and frankincense were mingled. And the older women wailed aloud. And all the men gave forth a high-pitched song, calling upon Paon [Apollo] the far-darter who is skilled in the lyre, to sing of Hektor and Andromache, like to the gods [theoeikelois].
According to my weeping: it and all care let buffeting winds bear away.
…the sweet sounding flute and cithara were mingled and sound of castanets, sweetly the maidens sang a holy song, and a marvelous echo reached the sky …
…surpasses all the stars. And her light stretches over salt sea equally and flowerdeep fields. And the beautiful dew is poured out and roses bloom and frail chervil and flowering sweetclover. But she goes back and forth remembering gentle Atthis and in longing she bites her tender mind…
Atthis, our loved Mnasidica dweels at far- off Sardis, but she often sends her thoughts hither, thinking how once we used to love in the days when she thought thee like a glorious goddess, and loved thy song the best. And now she shines among the dames of Lydia as after sunset the rosy-fingered moon beside the stars that are about her, when she spreads her light o’er briny sea and eke o’er flowery field, while the good dew lies on the ground and the roses revive and the dainty anthrysc and the honey-lotus with all its blooms. And oftentime when our beloved, wandering abroad, calls to mind her gentle Atthis, the heart devours her tender breast with the pain of longing; and she cries aloud to us to come thither; and what she says we know full well, thou and I, for Night, the many-eared, calls it to us across the dividing sea.
Evening, thou that bringst all that bright morning scattered, thou bringst the sheep, the goat, and the child back to its mother.
Hadst thou wished for things good or noble and had not thy tongue formed evil speech, shame would not have shown from they eyes, but thou hadst spoken frankly about it.
c. 2016 Music Alchemy All Rights Reserved