|“||The Nine Muses cranked up the tunes, and I realized the music was whatever you wanted it to be: the gods could listen to classical and the younger demigods heard hip hop or whatever, and it was all on the same sound track. No arguments. No fights to change the radio station. Just requests to crank it up.||”|
The Muses are nine goddesses that preside over the arts and sciences—namely Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Urania and Calliope. They are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.
According to Hesiod's Theogony, the Muses were born in the region of Pieria, wherein lies Mount Olympus—they were conceived when Zeus appeared before Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, and lay with her for nine consecutive nights. It was believed that the Muses lived on Olympus with the other gods and the centre of their cult was Mount Helicon, located in Boeotia.
Apollo is believed to lead the Muses in song and is oftentimes referred to in literature as Mousagetes (“leader of the Muses”).
In one myth, the Muses judged a contest between Apollo and the satyr Marsyas. They declared Apollo the winner and as punishment, the god flayed Marsyas alive. The Muses also gathered the pieces of the dead body of Orpheus (who was the son of Calliope) and buried them after he was mutilated by the Maenads on Dionysus' orders.
In a later myth, Thamyris challenged them to a singing contest. They won and punished Thamyris by blinding him and robbing him of his singing ability.
There are nine Muses:
- Calliope - Calliope is the Muse of epic poetry and and her means “she of a beautiful voice”. Some accounts say that Calliope was the lover of the war god Ares and bore him several sons, from whom many Thracian tribes claimed descent. Calliope also had two famous sons, Orpheus and Linus, by either Apollo or Oeagrus, king of Thrace.
- Clio - Clio is the Muse of history and her name is derived from the Greek word kleo (“to make famous, to celebrate”). In Classical times, when the Muses were assigned specific literary and artistic spheres, Clio was named Muse of history. She has been credited with introducing the Pheonican alphabet into Greece. Her son, Hyacinthus, was a lover of Apollo.
- Erato - The Muse of love poerty. Her name is derived from the Greek word eros and means “desired, lovely”.
- Euterpe - She is the Muse of music and lyric poetry and her name means “well pleasing”. A few say she invented the aulos or double-flute, which is her attribute. She lay with the river god Strymon and gave birth to a son, Rhesus; during the Trojan War, Rhesus led a band of Thracians and was killed by Diomedes.
- In-series, one of her daughters, Marilyn, repairs Apollo's combat ukulele after it was damaged in the fight at the Tomb of Tarquin.
- Melpomene - She is the Muse of tragedy and her name is derived from the Greek verb melpô or melpomai, meaning “to celebrate with dance and song”. In Roman and Greek poetry, it was traditional to invoke the goddess Melpomene so that one might create beautiful lyrical phrases.
- Polyhymnia - The Muse of hymns and oratory.
- Terpsichore - Terpsichore is the Muse of dancing and choral songs. Her name means “delighting in dance,” and she is sometimes said to be the mother of the Sirens by Achelous.
- Thalia - Thalia is the Muse of comedy and her name means “blooming, flourishing”. She was the eighth-born of the nine Muses and according to pseudo-Apollodorus, she and Apollo were the parents of the Corybantes.
- Urania - Urania is the Muse of astrology and she was the last of the Muses to be born. Her name means “heavenly, of heaven”.
The Muses were shown to be starting a concert on Olympus when Percy returns the Master Bolt. The Muses and everyone else bow to Percy as a sign of respect for performing a great task for the gods. As the gods celebrate, the Muses play music that sounds like anything you want, so no one argues about the music.
The Muses perform at the final celebration after the gods had decided that Percy Jackson and Thalia Grace were not going to be killed. According to Percy, everybody hears the music they only want to hear, like classical for the gods and hip hop for the younger demigods. He later shares a dance with Annabeth Chase and the song he hears changes to a slow one, though he was not sure what she was hearing.
While Meg McCaffrey and the former god Apollo wander the streets of Manhattan, searching for Percy Jackson, Apollo tries thinking positive thoughts, one of which includes hearing the Nine Muses in perfect harmony.
This is how the Muses are depicted in the book series:
- Calliope is always seen with a writing tablet in her hand. At times, she is depicted carrying a role of paper or a book and/or wearing a golden crown.
- Clio is often represented with a parchment scroll or a set of tablets.
- Erato is often depicted with a wreath of myrtle and roses, holding a lyre or a cithara. In some representations she has two turtle-doves that are eating seeds at her feet. Other representations show her holding a golden arrow, reminding one of the "eros," the feeling that she inspires in everybody, and at times she is accompanied by the god Eros, holding a torch.
- Euterpe is often seen carrying an aulos or double-flute, which she invented and is her attribute.
- Melpomene is often represented with a tragic mask and wearing the cothurnus, boots traditionally worn by tragic actors. Often, she also holds a knife or club in one hand and the tragic mask in the other. On her head she is shown wearing a crown of cypress.
- Polyhymnia is depicted as very serious, pensive and meditative, and often holding a finger to her mouth, dressed in a long cloak and veil and resting her elbow on a pillar.
- Terpsichore is usually depicted sitting down, holding a lyre, accompanying the dancers' choirs with her music.
- Thalia was portrayed as a young woman with a joyous air, crowned with ivy, wearing boots, and holding a comic mask in her hand. Many of her statues also hold a bugle and a trumpet (both used to support the actors' voices in ancient comedy), or occasionally a shepherd's staff or a wreath of ivy. In art, Thalia was portrayed holding a comic mask, a shepherd's staff, and/or a wreath of ivy.
- Urania is often seen with a globe and compass, being the Muse of astrology.
While their abilities were never shown, it is likely that they are powerful as daughters of Zeus and of an Elder Titaness.
- Inspiration Manipulation: As goddesses of inspiration, it is likely that they can control inspiration.
- Control of the Arts: They can likely control the specific art that they represent.
- Thalia, the Muse of comedy, shares her name with one of her father Zeus' demigod children, Thalia Grace.
- None of the Muses have been addressed by name in any of the series as of yet, though Calliope is mentioned as the mother of Orpheus in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes.
- Their Norse equivalent is Bragi.
- Muse usually means inspiration, either for an artist or poets, and people would pray to the Muses for inspiration.
- The word 'Museum', comes from the Muses.
- There is a magazine called Muse for ages 9 to 12, and it uses Urania.
- Their Norse equivalents are the Nine Billow Maidens.