Volume 3: 1771 Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica!


Muses, certain fabulous divinities amongst the pagans, supposed to preside over the arts and sciences: for this reason it is usual for the poets, at the beginning of a poem, to invoke these goddesses to their aid. Some reckon the muses to be no more than three, viz. Mneme, Aoede, and Melete; that is, memory, singing, and meditation: but the most ancient authors, and particularly Homer and Hesiod, reckon nine; viz. Clio, which means glory; Euterpe, pleasing; Thalia, flourishing; Melpomene, attracting; Terpsichore, rejoicing the heart; Erato, the amiable; Polyhymnia, a multitude of songs; Urania, the heavenly; and Calliope, sweetness of voice. To Clio, they attributed the invention of history; to Melpomene, tragedy; to Thalia, comedy; to Euterpe, the use of the flute; to Terpsichore, the harp; and to Erato, the lyre and lute; to Calliope, heroic verse; to Urania, astrology; and to Polyhymnia, rhetoric.

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