Mythical creatures and monsters


In Greek mythology, the Muses are the goddesses of all the arts. They were the daughters of the supreme god Zeus and Mnemosyne (goddess of memory).

The Muses were very beautiful and noble and lived with the gods on Olympus (also at the springs of Boeotia or Parnassus). The closest of the gods to them was Apollo. All the gods protected the Muses except Ares, who did not treat them well. The Muses loved to dance and sing, thus entertaining the gods and themselves.

They were kind to humans, especially poets, actors, singers and playwrights. But if someone insulted them or exalted themselves above them, they could be evil. Thus Thamyros lost his voice, his hearing and his sight because he boasted that he had beaten the Muses in a contest. Pýrenaos, on the other hand, died at the hands of Zeus after he tried to seize the Muses.

The Muses were nine in number, named Kalliope ("with a beautiful voice"), Euterpe ("cheering"), Erató ("affectionate"), Thaleia ("festive, flowering"), Melpomené ("singing"), Terpsichore ("dancing in a circle"), Kleió ("celebrating"), Urania ("celestial") and Polyhymnia ("polyphonic"). In the oldest texts, three quite distinct Muses are mentioned, namely Meleté ("care"), Mnémé ("memory") and Aoidé ("singing").

The word "muse" is derived from the verb "maomai" (to strive, to desire). For the Greeks, the artistic performances of poets, dancers and musicians were not their creation; everything, they believed, came from the divine inspiration provided by the Muses. This is why the Muse is invoked at the beginning of the creation of art.

From the word muse also derives the word "museum" as a centre of sciences and arts.