Invocation to the Muses: An Attempt at an Auspicious Beginning
November 2, 2014
I thought I ought to begin this blog by introducing its two cover girls. The tall, elegant muse who meets our gaze with such passionate and hypnotic eyes is Erato. Her name means ‘lovely’, and she is the muse of love poetry and lyric poetry. She is traditionally depicted holding a lyre, as she is here. In ancient Greece, novels had not yet been invented. Instead stories were recited as poems, often with the accompaniment of a lyre, hence Erato’s lyre. This muse’s dark eyes certainly have the look of love, with perhaps a touch of obsession too. I expect that she always gets her man—who could resist eyes like that? As many of us writers like to weave themes of love and romance into our stories, we would do well to honour this muse.
Seated is Calliope, with her traditional props of stylus and wax tablets. She is the eldest of the nine muses, and her name means ‘beautiful voice’. Epic poetry, heroic poetry and eloquence are hers, so anyone contemplating a literary endeavour involving tales of war, adventure or heroism should not scorn Calliope. And even if your endeavour aspires to none of those, what writer would not wish their pen to be eloquent? Only a foolish writer scorns the muse Calliope.
These two wise and beautiful muses are closest to the writer’s arts, but there is one
more muse we must not neglect. Thalia is muse of comedy, and of pastoral, merry, idyllic and rural poetry. Here she is with her attribute, the comic mask. Actors in ancient Greek plays always wore masks, and if their’s was a tragic (or ‘serious’) character, the mask had a down-turned mouth, and if a comic one, it had up-turned lips. Thalia was also sometimes shown with ivy vine about her and a staff in her hand, to indicate her affinity with nature and rural life.
I love to write scenes that are funny, or have a character throw out a witty remark. As for the pastoral, the idyllic and the rural, no story is right unless it includes at least a little of them somewhere. So Thalia must not be excluded in this evocation.
Having now presented The Muse’sthree foremost overseers and paid them due homage, I hope that they will look favourably on this little endeavour and bring it success. The Muse will be talking about inspiration in creative writing, and how to mould it into a satisfying work. I will share my own creative process, give tips on how to find inspiration, how to use it once you have found it, and post the occasional writing exercise, inspiring verse, image or thought. I hope you enjoy The Muse and find it useful.
I shall leave the final word to the ancient Greek writer Hesiod:
He is happy whom the Muses love. For though a man has sorrow and grief in his soul, yet when the servant of the Muses sings, at once he forgets his dark thoughts and remembers not his troubles.