76. Μουσῶν, θυμίαμα λίβανον.
To the Muses, Goddesses of Inspiration
Divine medium: libanon (frankincense)
Μνημοσύνης καὶ Ζηνὸς ἐριγδούποιο θύγατρες,
Daughters of Mnemosyne and Zenos, powerful, resounding,
Μοῦσαι Πιερίδες, μεγαλώνυμοι, ἀγλαόφημοι,
Pierian Muses, greatly named, gloriously famed.
θνητοῖς, οἷς κε αρῆτε, ποθεινόταται, πολύμορφοι,
Mortals, virtuous ones, longingly implore your many forms,
πάσης παιδείης ἀρετὴν γεννῶσαι ἄμεμπτον,
Let all virtuous learning produce creations above reproach,
θρέπτειραι ψυχῆς, διανοίας ὀρθοδότειραι,
The nourishments of Psyche direct, uprightly bestow,
καὶ νόου εὐδυνάτοιο καθηγήτειραι ἄνασσαι,
And mind’s nobly-empowered pure guiding Queens,
αἳ τελετὰς θνητοῖς ἀνεδείξατε μυστιπολεύτους,
Eternally complete mortal expressions, mysterious and plentiful:
Κλειώ τ’ Εὐτέρπη τε Θάλειά τε Μελπομένη τε
Kleio, the key, and delightful Euterpe, blooming Thaleia, and dancing Melpomene,
Τερψιχόρη τ’ Ἐρατώ τε Πολύμνιά τ’ Οὐρανίη τε
Choral Terpsichore, and passion’s Erato, prolific Polyhymnia, and dazzling Ourania,
Καλλιόπηι σὺν μητρὶ καὶ εὐδυνάτηι θεᾶι Ἁγνηι.
Beautiful Kalliope together with mothers and powerful, pure Goddesses,
ἀλλὰ μόλοιτε, θεαί, μύσταις, πολυποίκιλοι, ἁγναί,
Make whole, Goddesses, these many mystae, varied, pure,
εὔκλειαν ζῆλόν τ’ ἐρατὸν πολύυμνον ἄγουσαι.
Unlock with the zeal of passion many hymns of enlightenment.
The Muses (Μοῦσαι) are the Goddesses who inspire song, poetry, the arts, and sciences. They bestow inspiration upon mortals. Most classical poems begin with an appeal to the Muses for inspiration.
The sacrifices offered to them consisted of libations of water or milk, and of honey. (So, perhaps a bit of tea??)
Mnemosyne, the mother of the Muses, is the immortal Goddess of memory: the memory’s (Μνη) + container/house (μοσύν).
Pieria is the coastal region around Mount Olympos.
Zenos is another name for Zeus, the immortal God of lightning storms and the spark of fire/spark of life.
Arete (Ἀρῆτε) is the immortal Goddess of virtue, excellence, goodness.
Psyche is the immortal Goddess of the soul.
Anassa means Queen, Lady; addressed to Goddesses.
Kleio (Κλειώ) means key/lock, the Muse who unlocks the divine channel, usually considered the Muse of history, literally: core (Κ) + loosen/release (λ) + essence (ε) of + divine power (ι) + bring forth (ώ). Kleio also means “call” and “celebrate.”
Euterpe (Εὐτέρπη) means essence-of (Ε) + pure (ὐ) + delight, gladdening, cheer (τέρπη). Euterpe is associated with poetry, music, song, and dance.
Thaleia (Θάλειά) means bloom, literally: divine (Θ) + arising (ά) + loosen/release (λ) + essence of (ε) + divine power (ι). Thaleia also means rich, plentiful, abundance, good cheer. She is associated with comedy.
Melpomene (Μελπομένη) means means dance and sing (Μελπω) + power (μένη). Melo (μέλω) means to be an object of care or thought, to care for, to take an interest in. Melpomene eventually came to be associated with inspiring tragic drama.
Terpsichore (Τερψιχόρη) means enjoy, delight in (Τερψι) + the choral dancers/singers (χόρη).
Erato (Ἐρατώ) means the expression of love, “eros.” Erato (Ἐρατώ) is the Pythagorean name for two. She is associated with love poetry.
Polyhymnia (Πολύμνιά) means many (Πολ) + hymns (ύμνιά). She is associated with meditative hymns.
Ourania (Οὐρανίη) means the sky, particularly the night sky and its constellations, planets, and moon phases. She is associated with astronomy.
Kalliope (Καλλιόπηι) means beautiful (Καλλι) + looking (όπηι). She is associated with epic poetry.
Mystae are initiates in the Mysteries.
W.S. Merwin, American poet (1927- ), quoting his teacher, the Pulitzer Prize winning American poet John Berryman (1914-1972):
“…he suggested I pray to the Muse
get down on my knees and pray
right there in the corner and he
said he meant it literally.”
Everything I’ve learned.
All the books,
All the living and
And studying and experiences
And wanting to convey these hymns
The real meaning of these hymns
If I can’t get this one…the one about the Muses…
I need you to please, please help me get this one right.
 Thomas Taylor’s translation of this hymn makes no mention of Mnemosyne. His first line of translation is, “Daughters of Jove, dire-sounding and divine . . .”