The muses were nine mythical female figures that date back to ancient Greece. They inspired great works in the arts, sciences, and other creative realms and were a type of goddess.
According to legend, they were born to Zeus and Mnemosyne, a human woman whose name means “memory” on nine consecutive nights.
They have been alluded to repeatedly in works of great literature:
“Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy… tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them. “ – Homer, The Odyssey
“Muse, tell me the cause: how was she offended in her divinity, how was she grieved, the Queen of Heaven, to drive a man, noted for virtue, to endure such dangers, to face so many trials?” – Virgil, The Aeneid
“O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!” – Dante, The Inferno
The nine muses were Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Erato, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania.
Calliope, “she of the beautiful voice,” was the muse of epic poetry.
Clio, “the proclaimer,” was the muse of history.
Euterpe, “the well pleasing,” was the muse of song.
Erato, “the lovely,” was the muse of love poetry.
Melpomene, “the songstress,” was the muse of tragedy.
Polyhymnia, “she of many hymns,” was the muse of sacred poetry.
Terpsichore, “delighting in the dance,” was the muse of dance.
Thalia, “the luxuriant,” was the muse of comedy.
Urania, “the heavenly,” was the muse of astronomy.
To be a muse today, dear reader, means to be a woman who inspires greatness in others, especially in men, by means of her divine grace and feminity. A muse often has extreme beauty, but to be beautiful alone will not qualify a woman to be a muse.
She must be somewhat mysterious, meaning that she has knowledge and understanding that she doesn’t share with everyone – notice how the ancient muses were called out to for information and help, dear reader. Today this means recognizing the value in “let[ting] thy words be few.” A woman who does not speak idly or voice her every passing thought is a wise woman, not a weak or passive one.
A muse leaves more to be desired – men will constantly wonder about her and want more of her. Think of the Mona Lisa, a painting of a woman who could be said to be Leonardo da Vinci’s muse. Her appeal is in her air of mystery, rather than in her features. What men do not understand, and cannot “figure out,” they are drawn to.
A modern day muse is a woman who is accomplished, beautiful, and has strength of character – men, women, and children alike want to impress her and do their best in the hopes of winning her acknowledgement. That acknowledgement, dear reader, means something because the muse does not simply give it away to everyone. She is discerning, with her words, and with her praise.
A woman who is a muse has high standards, but she does not impose them on others, per se. She is strong, yet gentle, and has something of the mythical and other-worldly air of the original muses about her.
She is her own woman, complete within herself, yet if she wants any particular man, she can have him, and he will adore her for as long as she desires him, and likely beyond.