Garner's Greek Mythology

EP 34: The Muses -- Where Art Begins

October 31, 2021 Patrick Garner Season 2 Episode 34
Garner's Greek Mythology
EP 34: The Muses -- Where Art Begins
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to Episode 34! Here we take our inspiration from the Muses, nine goddesses and daughters of the mighty Zeus.

3,000 years ago they lit the fire behind every masterpiece. Many of us say they play the identical role today, inspiring songwriters, poets, playwrights and writers.

They inspired artists and scientists alike. Pythagoras, the father of mathematics, was also a mystic and credited the Muses with many of his innovations. 

Narrated by mythologist and best-selling author, Patrick Garner, Garner's Greek Mythology is unlike any other Greek history series.  Here these divine beings are viewed as if they were anything but mythical...

If you love this podcast, you'll also enjoy new stories about the gods in Garner's novel Homo Divinitas, now available as an audio book on Amazon.com and Audible.com.

(Musical score includes selections from Fesliyan Studios and Saraz Handpans.)

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EP 34-- The Muses: Where Art Begins

THE MUSES ... OF ALL THE OLYMPIC GODS, THEY REMAIN THE MOST VISIBLE.

THERE ARE NINE. THEIR NAMES? Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, ERATO, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia & URANIA.

THE ANCIENT GREEKS ATTRIBUTED ALL ARTISTIC INSPIRATION TO THEM  ... & THOUSANDS OF YEARS LATER, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

WE CAN STILL IMAGINE THEM HOVERING OVER AN ARTIST'S SHOULDER, WHISPERING SUGGESTIONS.

NUMEROUS ARTISTS CONFESS THAT THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS. I CONCUR AS THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I WROTE THE WINNOWING TRILOGY.

AND THAT'S WHAT ALMOST ALWAYS HAPPENS WHEN AN ARTIST BEGINS TO WRITE A SONG, OR PAINT A CANVAS OR ENGAGE IN ANY CREATIVE ACT: SOME FORCE BEGINS TO DICTATE EVERY CHOICE.

AND WHEN A GREAT WORK IS FINISHED, IT'S COMMON FOR THE ARTIST TO SAY, "IT WAS ALL THANKS TO MY MUSE ..."

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING IS THAT THEY WERE POSSESSED BY A CREATIVE SPIRIT, & THAT THEIR BEST IDEAS WERE NOT ENTIRELY THEIR OWN ...

IN THIS INSTALLMENT WE PRESENT THE MUSES, SISTERs WHO REMAIN INVOLVED IN EVERYTHING INSPIRATIONAL, IMAGINATIVE & INNOVATIVE.

ZEUS & ARES HAVE FALLEN. ARTEMIS & APOLLO HAVE MOVED ON TO OTHER PURSUITS. POSEIDON & ATHENE NO LONGER COMPETE FOR GLORY. and the other gods have drifted away ...

BUT THE MUSES, ALONE AMONG THEM ALL, LIVE ON ...

THIS IS EPISODE 34 OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY. WE HAVE LISTENERS FROM 148 COUNTRIES & FAR MORE THAN 100,000 DOWNLOADS.

SO WELCOME TO EVERYONE, WHEREVER YOU ARE.

I'M YOUR HOST, MYTHOLOGIST & BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, PATRICK GARNER. 

THESE STORIES ABOUT THE GODS HAVE BEEN TOLD FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. BUT NOW THERE ARE NEW STORIES THAT ARE AS COMPELLING.

IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY, CHECK OUT MY BOOKS ABOUT THE GODS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD. 

YOU CAN READ ABOUT THEM & ABOUT THIS PODCAST AT PATRICKGARNERBOOKS.COM. 

AND AS ALWAYS, THIS PODCAST FOCUSES ON ONE THING ... GREEK GODS, OF COURSE. THEY, LIKE YOU, ARE HERE, NOW ...

IN ANCIENT GREECE, THERE WAS A MUSE FOR MUSIC, POETRY, THEATER, SONG, DANCE, SCULPTURE, & EVEN ASTRONOMY & HISTORY.

the Muses were the key to WHAT THE GREEKS CALLED the good life. theIR FATHER WAS ZEUS& THEY liveD WITH THE OTHER DIVINITIES on mount Olympus.

The power most COMMONLY assigned to them WAs that of INSPIRing mortal CREATORS.

BUT THEY ALSO conferrED the gift of gracefulness to EVERY ARTIST'S CREATION.

THINK OF THAT: CONFERRING gracefulness. IT'S A CONCEPT FOREIGN TO OUR MODERN SENSIBILITY. HOW MANY OF US ASPIRE TO POISE, ELEGANCE & CHARM?

TODAY WE HARDLY BLINK AT THE CONSTANT DEPICTION OF VIOLENCE, ROUGH LANGUAGE & JARRING BEHAVIOR IN SONG & ART.

IN CONTRAST, THE MUSES BESTOWED BEAUTY & DIGNITY. GRACEFULNESS WAS THEIR OFFERING TO ALL MORTALS WHO ASPIRED TO BE ARTISTS.

THE WORD 'MUSE' SATURATES THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. THINK OF THE WORDS 'A-MUSE,' 'BE-MUSE,' 'MUS-EUM,' 'MUS-IC,' & EVEN THE PHRASES 'MUSING ON' OR 'MUSING UPON.'

ALL OF THESE ARE DERIVATIONS OF THE GREEK WORD MUSE ... FOR INSTANCE, THE WORD 'AMUSE' FLOWS FROM COMEDIC THEATRE.

VIEWERS WERE ENTERTAINED BY CONSTANT JOKES & SILLINESS. AUDIENCES KNEW THAT THE PLAYWRIGHT WAS INSPIRED BY THALIA, THE MUSE OF COMEDY.

THE WORD 'MUSEUM' WAS ORIGINALLY A PLACE WHERE ONE COULD VIEW VENERATED OBJECTS & 'MUSE ON' WHAT WAS DISPLAYED.

IN ANCIENT TIMES, 'MUS-IC' ITSELF WAS CONSIDERED TO OWE ITS ORIGIN, ITS SOURCE, TO CALLIOPE, THE MUSE OF MELODIES & SONG.

ALTHOUGH ZEUS FATHERED THESE GODDESSES, THEY ARE ALWAYS ASSOCIATED WITH APOLLO.

THAT MAKES SENSE. APOLLO IS the god of STRINGED INSTRUMENTS & SONG. HE, like THE MUSES, instructs POETs. 

Apollo is described BY HOMER as the leader of the Muses' choir. BUT WHAT'S FAR MORE FASCINATING IS THAT THE MUSES HAVE ATTRIBUTES & POWERS SIMILAR TO APOLLO'S. 

ONE OF THOSE IS prophetic power, WHICH CORRELATES WITH THEIR ABILITY TO inspirE ... IN THAT CAPACITY, THEY INSPIRED THE DELPHIC ORACLE, WHO, YOU'LL RECALL, WAS APOLLO'S HUMAN VOICE.

Pindar, GREECE'S MOST FAMOUS LYRIC POET, WROTE, "On the lofty rocks of DELPHI, the bright-eyed maidens, THE Muses ... "often START the fleet-footed dance, and ring out sweet SONGS with resonant voice."

THE MUSES WERE ALSO ASSOCIATED WITH DIONYSUS, WHO WAS INFAMOUS FOR HIS SEDUCTIVE DANCES & NIGHTLY RAVES.

VARIOUS ANCIENT TEXTS describe THEM as Dionysus' companions & playmates.

THEY, ALONG WITH THE SATYRS, DANCED BESIDE THE GOD OF WINE AS HE HELD WOMEN-ONLY FESTIVALS THROUGHOUT ANCIENT GREECE.

THE ROMAN WRITER Diodorus STATED, "They say also that when DIONYSUS went abroad he was accompanied by the Muses.

"THEY were maidens that had received an unusually excellent education, & their songs & dancing ... delighted the heart of the god."

DIONYSUS WAS ALSO THE FOUNDER OF THEATER, PARTICULARLY TRAGEDIES. as his close companions, THE MUSES WERE assumed TO BLESS PERFORMANCES.

but that wasn’t all. playwrights always called upon them for inspiration. AUDIENCES FELT THEM HOVERING OVER PRODUCTIONS.

and as a result, art was CONSIDERED a collaboration between mortals & the muses. creation THEN, AS NOW, was never one-sided. 

One or all of the muses had their hand in ALL GREAT ENTERTAINMENT, every work of art & every masterpiece. 

AND the muses hardly confined themselves to art. 

PYTHAGORAS, the mathematician WHO was featured IN EPISODE 33 OF THIS SERIES, VIEWED the muses AS INSPIRING MANY OF HIS INSIGHTS.

WHEN HE MOVED FROM EGYPT TO CROTON, A settlement IN what is now ITALY, HE IMMEDIATELY ADVISED THE CITY FATHERS TO BUILD A SHRINE TO THE MUSES.

And so the muses inspired science, astronomy & even the hundreds of festivals that took place across the ancient world.

IN BOEOTIA AT THE TOMB OF THE ANCIENT WRITER, HESIOD, ANNUAL FESTIVALS WERE HELD AT THE INSISTENCE OF THE MUSES.

HESIOD, IN THE BEGINNING OF HIS BOOK ABOUT THE GODS, implored the muses, SAYING, "These things declare to me from the beginning, YOU Muses IN Olympus, & tell me about the GODS who came to be."

At his death, HESIOD WAS honored with what was called a muse-shrine. such a MEMORIAL was assumed to be maintained & protected by the muses.

AND HESIOD was NOT THE ONLY GREAT MAN TO BE RECOGNIZED WITH SUCH A PLACE. A SIMILAR ONE WAS DEDICATED at THE TOMB OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT.

FOR OVER 1500 YEARS, WRITERS USED AN ESTABLISHED FORMULA TO ALERT READERS THAT THEY WERE WORKING IN A muse-inspired TRADITION.

FOR INSTANCE, HOMER IN THE BEGINNING OF THE ODYSSEY, referring to Odysseus, WROTE,

"SING TO ME OF THE MAN, MUSE, THE MAN OF TWISTS & TURNS ..."

ANOTHER EXAMPLE of a writer calling out to the muses for inspiration IS THE ROMAN WRITER, VIRGIL, WHO LIKE HOMER PLEADED REGARDING Odysseus, 

"OH MUSE! causes and crimes relate;

What goddess was provokEd, & whence her hate;

For what offense HERA began

To persecute so brave, so just a man?"

FOR OVER 2,000 YEARS WRITERS REGULARLY APPEALED, HOWEVER RHETORICALLY, TO THE MUSES FOR INSPIRATION. 

NAMES OF SOME OF THE GREAT WRITERS WHO ACKNOWLEDGED THE MUSES AS INSPIRATION INCLUDE OVID, DANTE, CHAUCER, SHAKESPEARE & MILTON.

TO THE GREEKS THE MUSES WERE LIKE TODAY'S ROCKSTARS, YOU-TUBERS OR TIKTOK INFLUENCERS. 

EVERYONE KNEW EACH MUSE BY NAME, AWARE OF WHICH ARTIST THEY WERE INSPIRING, WHAT GRAND VISION THEY HAD PLANTED IN A FAMOUS ARTIST'S MIND.

Calliope IS DEPICTED carrYiNG a writing tablet. SHE INSPIRES MUSICIANS, CHORAL GROUPS & POETS WITH THE ECSTATIC HARMONY OF HER VOICE.

Clio, THE MUSE OF history, CARRIES  a scroll; HER GUIDANCE, LIKE AN ORACLE'S, CHANGED THE COURSE OF EVENTS FROM CITY TO CITY. 

Euterpe HOLDS a flute. SHE IS KNOWN AS THE 'GIVER OF DELIGHT' & THE FORCE BEHIND ALL GREAT MUSIC.

Erato IS PORTRAYED with a SMALL HARP, WEARS a crown of roses & INSPIRES lyric & EROTIC poetry. HER NAME MEANS BELOVED.

Melpomene, THE MUSE OF tragIC THEATER, OFTEN PUTS ON a SORROWFUL mask & HOLDS A SWORD. 

THEN THERE'S Polyhymnia, WHO INSPIRES sacred poetry, DANCE & ELOQUENCE. SHE APPEARS IN GREEK ART with a pensive expression, WEARING A VEIL.

Terpsichore, WHO WAS CELEBRATED IN A FRANK SINATRA SONG "COME DANCE WITH ME", INSPIRES HAPPY SONGS, DANCING & FLUTE PLAYING.

INTERESTINGLY, SHE IS ALSO THE MOTHER OF THE INFAMOUS HALF-BIRD, HALF-WOMAN SIRENS, WHO TORMENTED SAILORS WITH THEIR IRRESISTIBLE SONGS.

Thalia IS THE MUSE OF comedy, often APPEARING with a comic mask; SHE'S THE MUSE WHO ACCOMPANIES DIONYSUS AT THEATRICAL EVENTS.

FINALLY Urania, THE MUSE OF astronomy, CARRIES a pair of compasses & a globe OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM. HER NAME MEANS HEAVENLY IN ANCIENT GREEK ...

AS SISTERS, THE MUSES ARE NEVER IN COMPETITION, ALWAYS SUPPORTING EACH OTHER & CHARMING ALL THOSE THEY ENCOUNTER.

ALL IN ALL, theY'RE CONGENIAL & GOOD-HUMORED. THE ONLY EXCEPTION  IS WHEN THEY'RE CHALLENGED BY MORTALS WHO THINK TOO HIGHLY OF THEMSELVES ...

I JUST SAID, 'WHEN THEY'RE CHALLENGED BY MORTALS.' WE'VE SEEN THIS BEFORE. THINK OF ATHENE WHO WAS CHALLENGED TO A WEAVING CONTEST BY ARACHNE.

ALTHOUGH THE LOVELY YOUNG WOMAN BETTERED ATHENE, THE GODDESS TRANSFORMED HER INTO A SPIDER FOR DARING TO SURPASS A DIVINITY ... 

AS A SPIDER SHE COULD WEAVE FOR ALL ETERNITY.  AND THE MUSES? THEY FELT NO DIFFERENTLY ABOUT DIRECT CONFRONTATIONS.

FOR INSTANCE, ONCE THERE WAS A MAN NAMED Thamyris, WHO BEGGED THE MUSES FOR THE GIFT OF SONG.

THEY GRANTED HIS WISH & OVER TIME HE GREW INCREASINGLY proud of his skill. BEFORE LONG HE boasted that he could out-sing THE MUSES THEMSELVES.

THEY AGREED TO A COMPETITION, WARNING HIM THAT CONCEIT IS A DANGEROUS THING. he SCOFFED AT THEM & WAS PROMPTLY defeated. 

the MUSES blinded him, TheN took away his VOICE  ... AFTERWARDS, HE WANDERED THE ROADS AS A SILENT BEGGAR UNTIL HIS DEATH.

THEIR GIFTS WERE GIVEN FREELY, BUT IF SCORNED, THE MUSES WERE SWIFT TO EXACT REVENGE.

MANY OF US ACCEPT THAT THE ANCIENT MUSES ARE STILL AMONG US ... BUT THEY DON'T SIMPLY HOVER OVER AN ARTIST'S SHOULDER.

MARIANNE FAITHFULL, A POPULAR SINGER FROM THE 1960s & 70s, WAS A MUSE TO DAVID BOWE, NICK CAVE, KEITH RICHARDS & OTHERS.

ZELDA FITZGERALD WAS A MUSE TO HER HUSBAND, F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, WHO'S BEST KNOWN FOR HIS NOVEL, THE GREAT GATSBY.

CAMILLE CLAUDEL WAS THE SCULPTOR RODIN'S MUSE & CONSTANT MODEL ... ANAIS NIN WAS THE WRITER HENRY MILLER'S INSPIRATION.

DORA MAAR WAS ONE OF PICASSO'S MANY MUSES ... CATHERINE DENEUVE, A MODEL & ACTRESS, WAS FASHION DESIGNER YVES SAINT LAURENT'S, MUSE.

AND WE FIND The Muses IN MORE RECENT culture. FOR INSTANCE, THEY PLAY A ROLE IN the 1980s musical film Xanadu & APPEAR IN Disney's FILM, Hercules ...

WE COULD GO ON, BUT I WONDER — HAVE YOU realizED THAT, THROUGHOUT TIME, MUSES ARE ALWAYS FEMALE? THAT WAS TRUE 3,000 YEARS AGO & IS TRUE TODAY ...

IN 2018, A CRITIC WROTE IN THE PARIS REVIEW, "Muses and spirits, always in the form of women, influenced ... the men who channeled them ... Great works were a joint effort, a communication with the divine..."

WE COULD EASILY RIDICULE THIS ALMOST QUAINT DYNAMIC BETWEEN MALE ARTIST & FEMALE MUSE. 

YET THE CONNECTION, THE INSPIRATION, SEEMS HARD-WIRED IN TIME, SPACE & THROUGHOUT ALL CULTURES ...

SOMETHING MAGICAL GOES ON ... WE COULD DISMISS IT ALL AS IMAGINARY. BUT IT ISN'T.

AND IF WE TRY TO EXPLAIN AWAY THE MUSE THROUGH A MODERN LENS, WE RISK DESTROYING THE MAGIC ITSELF.

SO THE MUSES STILL PLAY AMONG US. BUT WHY? 

BECAUSE THEY EXIST TO INSPIRE & TO MAKE MAGIC. IT'S THEIR PURPOSE ... THE OTHER GODS WALKED AWAY WITHOUT A SECOND THOUGHT. BUT THE MUSES ...

EXIST TO MERGE WITH ARTISTS. THEY WERE BORN FOR THIS. THEY WALK THE EARTH TO FIRE A MORTAL'S IMAGINATION.

THINK ABOUT IT: COMBINING AN ARTIST'S IDEA WITH THE MUSE'S SPARK CREATES AN EFFECT GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS. IT'S CALLED SYNERGY.

THE INTERCHANGE IS ASTONISHING. WHEN IT OCCURS, ONE + ONE CAN EQUAL 100,000 ... 

AND PERHAPS THIS EXPLAINS HOW PYTHAGORAS, who was a mystic as well as THE FATHER OF MATHEMATICS, COULD HAVE BEEN SO INDEBTED TO THE MUSES ...

EVEN TO THIS DAY, AS THEY DID SO LONG AGO, THE MUSES LAVISH THEIR GIFTS ON those who inspire us all.

JOIN ME ... FOR THE NEXT EPISODE OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY

IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU HEAR, BE SURE TO VISIT Patrick-Garner-Books-dot-com OR FIND ME ON AMAZON ... 

MY NOVELS ABOUT THE GREEK GODS ARE AS ENTERTAINING AS MY PODCASTS!

A GREAT WAY TO FIND OUT IS TO DOWNLOAD MY AUDIBLE BOOK, HOMO DIVINITAS. YOU CAN GET IT AT AMAZON OR AUDIBLE.

AND THANKS FOR LISTENING ... THIS IS YOUR HOST, PATRICK GARNER ...