The idea of muses comes from Greek mythology. I think it’s a fascinating idea and I often call my cat my muse hehe though I don’t actually believe in it! But it got me wanting to know a bit more about the notion so here’s a little info…
The Muses are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne [Memory]. Zeus came to Mnemosyne on nine consecutive nights and the nine daughters were the result of those nine unions. Mnemosyne gave birth to the nine girls near the topmost peaks of Mount Olympos (Olympus). All nine girls are of one mind … they are free spirited and have their hearts set upon song … they sing of the laws of the Immortals and the goodly ways of a life. Their homes and bright dancing places are on Mount Olympos but they may appear to anyone as long as the performer is paying tribute to the immortal gods with their art.
According to the poet Hesiod, the Muses frequent Mount Helikon (Helicon) in Boeotia and an area around Mount Olympos known as Pieria. They arise by night and shrouded in mist, walk the hills and bathe in springs. By calling upon and receiving the blessings of the Muses, a poet or dancer or musician can transcend the normal bounds of talent and rise to unimagined levels of creative insight.
The nine Muses are listed by name in the poem Theogony but the specific attributes of each goddess were added by later poets:
Erato [Lovely], Love Poems
Euterpe [Delightful], Flute Playing
Kalliope (Calliope) [the Beautiful-Voiced], Epic Poetry
Kleio (Cleio) [Celebrate], History
Melpomene [Songstress], Tragedy
Ourania (Urania) [Heavenly One], Astrology
Polymnia (Polyhymnia) [Many Hymns], Sacred Music
Terpsichore [Dance-Enjoying], Dance
Thaleia [Blooming One], Comedy