Badaim joins us to go over the origin of the Muses: powerful goddesses inspiring nations
The Muses are a set of nine goddesses associated with inspiration, literature, science, and the arts. Originally, the muses were represented by only three goddesses who varied in name and assigned domain based on time period and region. It was not until the Hellenistic period, which took place between the death of Alexander the Great and the rise of the Roman Empire, that the nine muses with specified attributes became popular. Even then, history records many different perspectives on the 'true' number of muses.
The muses are sometimes depicted as the the children of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the Titan goddess of memory; but there are also versions that have them arise from the pairing of Uranus and Gaia, as well as others that attest that the two sets of muses represent two distinct generations of muses.
Calliope is the muse of epic poetry, and is most notable as the mother of Orpheus and Linus. Orpheus' most well-known story regards his journey through the underworld to retrieve his dead wife, while Linus may represent an actual historical figure who is credited as the first to join lyrics to melody.
Melpomene is a muse of tragedy, and is often depicted with a mask and boots worn by tragic actors, as well as a knife or club. She is the mother of the Sirens, the handmaidens of Persephone (Percy) who were cursed with immortality for allowing Hades to kidnap her as his wife. The only way they could die was if a mortal could resist the temptation of their songs that lured sailors to their doom. When Odysseus of the Odyssey was able to pass by them by tying himself to his ships mast and plugging his crew's ears, the Sirens were able to die by drowning themselves.
Terpsichore is the muse of dance and is usually depicted holding a lyre. She is often followed by a retinue of dancers and singers to accompany her music. She is also sometimes attributed as the mother of the Sirens instead of Melpomene.
Eratos is the muse of poetry about love. It is said she is who charms the sight. She is distinct from the other muses who bear lyres by wearing a wreath of myrtle or roses on her head, and a pair of turtle-doves at her feet. She is also sometimes depicted with a golden arrow or torch in hand to represent her association with Eros.
Ourania is the muse of astronomy and philosophy, and is often shown holding a ball to represent heavenly bodies. She is also sometimes considered the mother of Linus and Hymen, the god of marriage ceremonies and banquets.
While Panacea is not a muse per se, she is a goddess of universal remedy, and has four brothers and four sisters who are themselves associated with various aspects of healing like hygiene, medical diagnosis, and surgery. Because she is depicted carrying a healing potion or poultice, her name has become synonymous with any figurative solution to all problems.
The most famous modern depictions of the muses come from the Disney animated film Hercules, and the 1980 romance musical Xanadu; but they are referenced in passing or cameo in a wide range of media: from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, the video games God of War and FFXI, to the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess.
Bragi finds his muse part 3: Meet the Musions
Bragi waved the mesclate of unknown fumes away from his face. His lungs spewed a sputtering cough at the bite of the questionable odor. Bragi scanned the red-tinted room that roiled in blatant debauchery. A gaggle of carny groupies rushed toward him, running their snaking hands over him from all angles.
'Sorry guys, but this is strictly business. Any idea where I can find the band?' The groupies just slunk away wordlessly with mildly dispirited expressions back into the mire of decanted flesh.
Bragi stepped cautiously between the billowing cushions and glistening skin as he made his way further. Amidst the layers of euphoric moans and decadent cries he could barely make out a wavering trill of somber melody. Sprawled over a veiled chaise lounge, a scantily clad muse expertly fingered a theramin.
The grinning figure blandished the seductive tune from the instrument with his own ecstatic glee, despite the blindfold that composed his most modest garment. Before Bragi could even speak, the muse tilted his head toward him and stopped playing.
'Pick a card, learn your fate.'' A trio of cards rose from the nothingness, floating before Bragi in an eager wave. The theramin quivered expectantly, awaiting Bragi's choice
What card should Bragi choose?
The card turned to reveal Bragi shrouded in a gray cloak. A staff and bright lantern lit his path as his visage peered off into the darkness. "The Hermit" scrawled across the bottom of the card. 'Interesting, you come to me for answers, but what you seek comes from within. Have you always traveled alone?' Bragi looked back to the door. 'Actually, I'm kind of working on changing that at the moment.' 'So, it would seem that this is a past path you have already traveled well. Allow me then to facilitate your transition.'
The card turned to show a naked Bragi with a disrobed woman across from him. Was it Idun? The card was old and worn, so a convenient scuff concealed her face. A stocky tree rose between the two figures. Ah, the lovers! You may think you are out of place here, but you come with your soul laid bare; more naked than any of these physical vessels of delight. You now face an irreversible choice: do you cling to the past, or reach out to the future?' 'I need your help, and I'll do anything, just...please.' 'Hrm. You're lucky I won't hold you to that verbatim, but I appreciate your enthusiasm and honesty! Such rare qualities nowadays! But before you can love another, you must first love yourself. Think you can revive that memory?' Bragi nodded to hide his apprehension.
The card showed Bragi being hung by one of his ankles from the branches of Yggdrasil. While the pose seemed painful, his caricature displayed a stoic complacence. 'It would appear that a great treachery has turned your world upside down. A blessing in disguise, as now you see things as they really are.' 'How-how did you know?' 'I don't. The cards do.' 'Then you know why I'm here?' 'Perhaps. Perhaps not. It all depends on how you look at it. Think you can keep your head straight while we find out?'' Bragi wasn't toi sure, but nodded anyway.
The muse rose from his lounge and beckoned Bragi to follow. The writhing groupies seemed to part instinctively before his lilting hands, as if they were under the same influence that he used to draw notes from the theramin.
As the muse approached the corner of an encircled crowd, he pulled them away to reveal another muse entranced in a fervent dance. A tragic mask concealed his face as he whipped a dagger at the end of a red ribbon in broad arcs. The dagger gained momentum with each overdramatic pirouette, feeding the crowds growing feverence. The muse crescendoed his performance by tossing the dagger straight up into the air, dropping to his knees and allowing it to plunge up to the hilt in his chest. The crowd erupted with livid cheers as he pulled off his mask and bowed, unfazed by the mortal blow.
'What heart!' He exclaimed blowing kisses and putting the back of his hand to his forehead in a swooning gesture. The circle applauded as he rose up and walked toward Bragi. The muse flicked his hair foppishly as he took a deep breath and sniffed Bragi's long mane. 'Mmmm...such delicious tragedy! Love lost, self-seclusion, brotherly betrayal; I love it! You might even be better at this than me!' The muse pulled out the dagger no wound and bounced its point at Bragi with a crooked wrist. 'I have a feeling she's going to like you!'
'Who?' Bragi arched an eyebrow hesitantly.
'You'll see!' The muses nodded to each other before leading Bragi deeper into the apparently unending expanse.
After what felt like an eternally winding trek, Bragi found himself at the feet of a quartet of muses. Two of them were busy strumming lyres in a dueling duet, while the youngest tenderly clutched a lamb that spat blats in tune with their instruments. The fourth muse seemed preoccupied scrying deeply into a crystal ball that composed her own head. Seizing lights of distant stars glittered across the shiny surface. They all gave pause in an unnatural unison as soon as Bragi
'Ugh, who let this old in here? I'm getting dehydrated just looking at him!' The young muse squeezed her lamb that seemed to emit an equally offended bleat.
'Now Pan, we can't be so quick to judge. He sauntered all this way to see us: The least we can do is hear him out.' The muse on the other lyre snapped her fingers against one of the strings, eliciting a wiry flame that arched from the vibrations and lit the hand-rolled cigarillo of uncertain content.
'Wanna burn?' She said after taking a long drag and turning the uncherried end towards Bragi. A column of thick smoke crept from her mouth and up her nostrils.
'Ah, no thanks *cough* I'm pretty sure I'm getting a contact as is.' The fire muse shrugged indifferently before blowing an indignant plume directly into Bragi's face.
'Whatever, you looked like you were going to be more fun though.'
'Sadly, *cough* I'm not here for fun: I'm here because *cough* I need your help.'
'Our manager deals with all the un-fun stuff. That's why we got him.' The fire muse waved her hand dismissively as she leaned back in her chair. The two male muses grabbed Bragi's shoulders and began to pull him away but Bragi shrugged them off as he took a step forward.
'Well why don't I save you the trouble and tell you what he's going to tell you: all this fun is going to go away unless you help me. I'm Bragi Runesinger, and my brother Loki ripped off my music and talent. No Bragi, no tour; you understand, you bunch of crotch fruits?' Bragi's eyes gave an azure glow as his passion lifted his hair with electric charge. The other muses looked worriedly to the fire muse, who nodded approvingly before leaning forward on her haunches. she clapped twice and the groupies melted away to leave an empty, and much smaller room.
'Glad to see age hasn't diminished your fire after all. I like it! I'm Xinyi, but you can call me Xin. This is Pan, Psi, and Nia; and you've already met Mel and my brother Call.' The two male muses nodded approvingly. 'Welcome: we're the Musions.'
'Glad I was able to make you kids see some sense. Sorry for coming off a bit abrasive, but we're kind of on the clock: Loki plans to broadcast my stolen song as his own and I have no idea how to stop him. Honestly, I don't even know how you guys can even help, but I don't have a lot of options here.'
'Did you already forget what the cards told you? ' Cal said.
'All this smoke's left my memory a bit muddled. Can you remind me?' Bragi squinted as he tried to recollect.
'I told you: the answer is in your head, so what better way to find our next step than to dig around there a little bit? Nia, think you can find the cognate?'
'Of course, she's always somewhere, I'm sure that's where she'll be!' Nia touched her fingertips to her crystal dome, pushing distant stars and galaxies across her smooth face in dazzling streaks. As the rays of light slowed, they clustered together to form a projected hologram of the muse floating off in a distant nebula.
'dOeS aNoThEr LoVeR oF kNoWlEdGe SeEk ThE wIsDoM fOuNd WiThIn? mY hAvE yOu TrAvElEd FaR fOr SoMeThInG tHaT iS fOuNd WiTh SuCh PrOxImItY.'
'You know how it is when someone needs a bit of perspective, sound doable?' Xin snuffed out her roach and wiped her hands.
'tHiS lOoKs DeEp, I mIgHt NeEd AlL yOuR hElP iF wE wIsH tO rEaCH tHe RoOt.' Without question the muses joined hands around Bragi while the cognate floated ominously above him.
'bRaCe YoUrSeLvEs...ThIs MiGhT fEeL...a LiTtLe WeIrD…' The cognate dove in, pulling Bragi and the muses far below the waves of his subconscious.