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Monday, January 11, 2016

Mosaic Muses

The Muses (Ancient Greek: Μοῦσαι Mousai; perhaps from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- "think") in Greek mythology are the goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, song-lyrics, and myths that were related orally for centuries in these ancient cultures. They were later adopted by the Romans as a part of their pantheon.

The Muses, the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, dance and music, are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory personified). Hesiod's account and description of the Muses was the one generally followed by the writers of antiquity. 

It was not until Roman times that the following functions were assigned to them, and even then there was some variation in both their names and their attributes: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flutes and lyric poetry), Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsichore (dance), Erato (love poetry), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry), Urania (astronomy).

Calliope Epic Poetry Writing tablet, Stylus, Lyre
Clio History Scrolls, Books, Cornet, Laurel wreath
Euterpe Music, Song, Ellegiac Poetry Aulos (an ancient Greek musical instrument like 
a flute), panpipes, laurel wreath.
Aerato Lyric Poetry Cithara (an ancient Greek musical instrument 
in the lyre family)
Melpomene Tragedy Tragic mask, Sword (or any kind of blade), Club, Kothornos 
Polyhymnia Hymns Veil, Grapes (referring to her as an agricultural 
Terpsichore Dance Lyre, Plectrum
Thalia Comedy Comic mask, Shepherd's crook (the vaudeville 
act of pulling someone off the stage with a 
hook is a reference to Thalia's crook), 
Ivy wreath
Urania Astronomy Globe and compass

It is interesting to note that both words "Muse" and "Mosaic" share the same etymology. Medieval Latin "musaicum" literally meant "of the muses" and was used to designate what we later called "mosaic".

And so we know of many mosaics describing them 9 muses. 
A gorgeous Set was discovered in Zeugma, Turkey in 2014.

And an other amazing set in the Island of Rhodes.

And an amazing one was unearthed much more to the North in the Vilage of Viichter close to Luxembourg. 

In a next Post, I'll show you some individual portraits of our 9 Μοῦσαι.

I am a modern mosaic artist with a deep admiration for ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine Arts. You can see some of my own mosaics on my site mosaicblues.

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or if you would like to drop me a line, please 
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1 comment:

  1. The second set of mosaics is in the Island of Kos (not Rhodes}.