mousai

Notes on the Elder Titaness Muses and related themes.

 

Mousai notes:

Greek Lyric V Anonymous Scholia, Fragment 917c (trans. Campbell) (Greek lyric B.C.) :

“Gentle-eyed mother Mousa [Mnemosyne], keep company with the pure family of your children : we bring out a complex song, newly flowering with fresh-built skill.”
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Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :

“From Aether and Terra [were born various abstractions] . . .
[From Caelum (Ouranos) and Terra (Gaia) were born ?] Oceanus, Themis, Tartarus, Pontus; the Titanes : Briareus, Gyes, Steropes, Atlas, Hyperion, and Polus [Koios], Saturnus [Kronos], Ops [Rhea], Moneta [Mnemosyne], Dione.”
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Pindar, Nemean Ode 7. 12 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :

“If success crowns a man’s venture, sweeter then than honey the them he pours into the Moisai’s stream. But lacking the songs to praise them, the mightiest feats of valour can but find a sorry grave a deep darkness. But for fine deeds a mirror to establish, one way alone we know if Mnamosyna’s (Memory’s) shining diadem will grant recompense for their labours, in the glory of music on the tongues of men.”
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Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 29. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :

“The sons of Aloeus held that the Mousai were three in number, and gave them the names Melete (Practice), Mneme (Memory), and Aoide (Song). But they say that afterwards Pieros, a Makedonian . . . came to Thespiae [in Boiotia] and established nine Mousai, changing their names to the present ones . . . Mimnermos [epic poet C7th B.C.] . . . says in the preface that the elder Mousai are the daughters of Ouranos (Heaven), and that there are other and younger Mousai, children of Zeus.”
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Arnobius, Against the Heathen 3. 37 (Roman Christian rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :

“We are told by Mnaseas [Greek writer C3rd B.C.] that the Muses are the daughters of Tellus [Gaia the Earth] and Coelus [Ouranos, Heaven]; others declare that they are Jove’s by his wife Moneta [Mnemosyne, Memory], or Mens (Mind) [Metis?]; some relate that they were virgins, others that they were matrons.
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The Elder Muses, the Mousai Titanides are three in number and according to most accounts are the daughters of Ouranos and Ge [Heaven and Earth].

  • Mneme [Mnemosyne, Moneta], “memory, mind” and as Moneta “warning, money, memory”
  • Melete, “practice, exercise”
  • Aoide, “song”

Cicero and Mnaseus give four Elder Muses by Heaven & Earth: Thelxinoe (“charming the mind”), Aoide (“song”), Arche (“beginning”) and Melete (“practice”)

According to several sources, Mnemosyne is the mother of the later and better-known Olympian Nine by Zeus (Mousai Olympiades- Ovid: the Mnemosynides). These muses had two main cult centers in Boiotia on Mt. Helikon and another in Pieria on the slopes of Mt. Olympus.

There are also the Mousai Apollonides, the three daughters of Apollon: Kephiso , Apollonis, and Borysthenis, also called Nete (lowest note of the lyre), Mese (middle note of the lyre) and Hypate (highest note of the lyre)

The Elder Muses seem to be more about the aspects of making whereas the Olympian Nine are personifications of particular varieties of the arts in expression that unfold from the creation process.

 

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The Helikon three (Pausanias), plus their issue Arete (“excellence”) have their mythic origins as the daughters of Gaia and Ouranos, Heaven and Earth. Their province is more properly the making of art. In this they differ from the more well-known Olympian Nine, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who represent various media/forms/disciplines of the distinct established arts. They are the public faces of art in action. The Helikoniades assist the creators.

Though several city and mountain shrines to the Muses exist, the Shrine of the Muses on Mt. Helikon (in Boeotia- near Livadia and Thebes, Thespiai) is one of the two main shrines related to the Elder Titaness Muses. The other is in Pieria on Mt. Olympos.

 

Mneme – Mνήμη (Mnemosyne) “Memory” – Mnemosyne’s well holds all the wisdom of the past, the treasure-trove of the Ancestors. All who have gone before, the great teachers and transmitters of the poetic gnosis  (poiia = art), both living and dead. She presides over all written records and media bearing their gifts and messages to the world. Her gift is synekheia, awareness of one’s place in the great continuity of practice.  Συνέχεια- synekheia- “continuity”

The well of accumulated personal and cultural knowledge, the raw source material within (and without when including access to recorded research materials) that when combined with inspiration forms the embryonic Works,  memorization and recall, one’s soul as “waxen receiver of impressions”

Plato, Theaetetus 191c (trans. Fowler):

“Sokrates : Can he [man] learn one thing after another? . . . Please assume, then, for the sake of argument, that there is in our souls a block of wax, in one case larger, in another smaller, in one case the wax is purer, in another more impure and harder, in some cases softer, and in some of proper quality . . . Let us, then, say that this is the gift of Mnemosyne (Memory), the mother of the Mousai (Muses), and that whenever we wish to remember anything we see or hear or think of in our own minds, we hold this wax under the perceptions and thoughts and imprint them upon it, just as we make impressions from seal rings; and whatever is imprinted we remember and know as long as its image lasts, but whatever is rubbed out or cannot be imprinted we forget and do not know.”

The artist’s memory and capacity to learn from what is taken in, the ability to listen and apply what is most useful, to select and remember what is most important to continuing on the way. Research, analysis, and synthesis of histories, methods, and philosophies of making. Formative.

The well in the west, the cauldron, the scroll. Air (pneuma) speaks through water.

Other corresponding symbols – The hippocampus, part of the brain that regulates memory and spatial orientation. Hippocampi- mythic figure of the horse-fish. The Hippocrene (“horse fountain”) and the Aganippe (“gentle horse”) springs on Helikon.

Contemporary name of Mnemosyne’s spring(s) in the town of Livadeia (turns inth the Herkyna river) = Kryopegadi (“cold fountain”)

Mnemosyne and the power of naming: Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 67. 3 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
“Of the female Titanes they say that Mnemosyne discovered the uses of the power of reason, and that she gave a designation to every object about us by means of the names which we use to express whatever we would and to hold conversation one with another; though there are those who attribute these discoveries to Hermes. And to this goddess is also attributed the power to call things to memory and to remembrance (mneme) which men possess, and it is this power which gave her the name she received.”

Mnemosyne’s demonic face: hero-worship, overconcern with lineages and pedigree; living in the past; limiting one’s vision to what already-is or what has already been; emulation to detriment; lack of flexibility and innovation; believing that one will never “measure up“ to the glories of the past (thereby becoming a self-made slave to them), overhungering for approval and needing constant reassurance from peers/authority figures.

 

Melete- Mελέτη -“Practice” The way. Muse of practice and exercises, willed shaping of one’s physical instrument. The daily toil in the studio is her favorite sacrifice; she demands no other (this includes all the work and effort required to have a studio practice; to have a life involving making as a central part.)

The result, her gift, is attainment of tekhne (τέχνη – skill, manual proficiency).

The artist’s physical, actual practice of working conception into material art. The honing of the artist’s own physical instrument through regular mindful practice. The choice of this practice and not that one, the discipline of keeping to it. Working with the reality of one’s material resources, starting from there every time.

The hammer (or knife, or instrument, or needle, or brush, or pen, or shoes) in the south-east. Where fire touches earth. The ruler, compass, metronome, script.

Melete’s demonic face: mindless practice, work without joy; obsession with “progress”; obsession with one’s tools, tool as fetish object rather than means to an end, dry or affected practice; compromise and undermining of the stability of the studio by neglecting other necessary aspects of life

 

Aoide – Aοιδή – “Song” The completed work of art encountered in the world as a lively independent thing. Inspiration of beauty and awe. The real and present child of dreams and works who inspires more new impulses to create in those apprehending it (as Pan: impregnating, generating conception anew).

Performance, the living art in actuality as existing and doing what it does in the world, the creator speaking his or her  living word through the Work.

The golden winged inspiration in the north-east. Earth perfected and endowed with speech (song). The Word made flesh, the virgin harlot. “Untouchable”, touching all. Venus with a sword, Ganymede’s intoxicating cup- Beauty+Phalle. Her gift is the apprehension of and possession by poeia (ποιία- art, divinely inspired “poetry” in whatever medium), theophoria (θεοφορία -“inspiration”).

Art as sacrament- “and outward sign of a thing divine” – that may be communicated.

“sing” = “tell us about”, as in the opening line of the Iliad: “SING Muse, of the rage of Achilles…”

As an arrow, she strikes (Pindar):

Pindar, Olympian Ode 1. 112 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“For me the Mousa (Muse) in her might is forging yet the strongest arrow.”

Pindar, Olympian Ode 9. 5 ff :
“Now with a far-ranging flight of arrows from the Mousai’s (Muses’) bow [i.e. inspiration].”

Aoide + Mneme: the designing, planning process that precedes the physical making.

Homer, Odyssey 1. 1 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
“Goddess of song (Mousa, Muse), teach me the story of a hero . . . Goddess, daughter of Zeus, to me in turn impart some knowledge of all these things, beginning where you will . . .”

Aoide’s demonic face: beauty-paralysis, jealousy (of fellow-creator)-paralysis; trance of self-satisfaction (with one’s own completed works); overvaluation of one’s own work-“preciousness”- the glamour of the romantic figure of “The Artist”; excess of conception without completion in the material (too much dreaming, too little practice)

Arete – Aρετή “Excellence”, “Virtue” the ever-receding product of the influence of the Three on the artist. “Myself Made Perfect”, the HGA, the Self, the Master. The executor’s embodiment of true will. The idealized future creative-self of the artist. The blend of qualities that forms each person’s arete is unique to themselves, so that one possesses and arete of keen observance and fine hand work, another may have an arete of excellence in the martial arts, and another’s may be in scholarship or oration.

Form variable, on the eastern horizon- “the Sun is risen in my Heart”

Personified in mythology, she is the sister of Harmonia and both are daughters of Praxidike (active Justice). In my own practice, this being has been gender-ambiguous.

Arete’s demonic face: awareness of the pointlessness of the work; hopelessness and oblivion of vision; revelation of illusory aspects of the personality, desires, and motivation of all previous and current efforts, and meaninglessness of one’s endeavors; revelation that success is not guaranteed; disappearance of the means of measurement of worth, value

The marriage of poeia and tekne within the artist in active expression bridges heaven and earth.

 



 

Proper Sacrifice

Dies Venus

Luna wx 81%v

Answers, phase I (Mysteria Maxima, the BIG economy):

What have I to offer You, Who are the source and end of all things?

motion, action, a unique tracing on the surface of space.
an arrangement, a choice; beauty.
your question.

What is the worthy offering, the proper sacrifice?

it may not be known until it is done
stand up, go, begin.
fall. find out.

burn.

 

Answers, phase II (Mousai Titanides):

What is the worthy offering, the proper sacrifice?

MNEME : honoring the (re)sources with proper reference/credit, submission to instruction, teaching what you have to offer

MELETE : work and persistence in the work, toil and labor in the studio (improving skill and actualizing the imagined.)

AOIDE : allowing one’s own completed art to circulate out in the world, monthly “dues”, the sum of life-energy in the form of material or social resources committed to the work that may have been used for other things

ARETE : active truth in practice, integrity and what that may cost

 


 

On Helikon, on the left as you go [from Askra] to the grove of the Mousai, is the spring Aganippe; they say that Aganippe was a daughter of the Termessos, which flows round Helikon. As you go along the straight road to the grove is a portrait of Eupheme carved in relief on a stone. She was, they say, the nurse of the Mousai.

Isopsephies:

Mneme – Mνήμη = 146 (40-50-8-40-8), reduction = 11, 2

Melete – Mελέτη = 398 (40-5-30-5-300-8), reduction = 20, 2

Aoide – Aοιδή = 90 (1-70-10-4-8), reduction = 9

Arete – Aρετή = 414 (1-100-5-300-8), reduction = 9

Συνέχεια- synekheia – “continuity” = 1271 (200-400-50-5-600-5-10-1), reduction = 11, 2

τέχνη – tekhne – “skill” = 963 (300-5-600-50-8), reduction = 18, 9

ποιία – poeia – “art” = 171 (80-70-10-10-1), reduction = 9

θεοφορία – theophoria – “inspiration” = 765 (9-5-70-500-70-100-10-1), reduction = 18, 9

βαβαί!– babai! -an exclamation of surprise or amazement, “bless me!” = 16 (2-1-2-1-10), reduction 7

References:

Mimnermus, Fragment 13 (from Oxyrhynchus papyrus) (trans. Gerber, Vol. Greek Elegiac) (Greek elegy C7th B.C.) :
“In the genealogy given by Mimnermos, the Mousai are daughters of Ge (Earth).”

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 7. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
“As for the Mousai . . . the majority of the writers of myths and those who enjoy the greatest reputation say that they were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (Memory); but a few poets, among whose number is Alkman [lyric poet C7th B.C.] state that they were daughters of Ouranos (Sky) and Ge (Earth).”

Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 21 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
“Again the first set of Musae are four, the daughters of the second Jupiter [i.e. Ouranos], Thelixonoe, Aode, Arche and Melete. The second set are the offspring of the third Jupiter [i.e. Zeus] and Mnemosyne, nine in number.”

Arnobius, Against the Heathen 3. 37 (Roman Christian rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
“We are told by Mnaseas [Greek writer C3rd B.C.] that the Muses are the daughters of Tellus [Gaia the Earth] and Coelus [Ouranos, Heaven]; others declare that they are Jove’s by his wife Moneta [Mnemosyne, Memory], or Mens (Mind) [Metis?]; some relate that they were virgins, others that they were matrons. For now we wish to touch briefly on the points where you are shown, from the difference of your opinions, to make different statements about the same thing. Ephorus [historian C4th BC], then, says that they are three in number; Mnaseas, whom we mentioned, that they are four ; Myrtilus brings forward seven; Crates [the philosopher? C4th B.C.] asserts that there are eight; finally Hesiod, enriching heaven and the stars with gods, comes forward with nine names.”

Plato, Phaedrus (trans. Fowler) :
“The third kind [of madness] is the madness of those who are possessed by the Mousai (Muses); which taking hold of a delicate and virgin soul, and there inspiring frenzy, awakens lyrical and all other numbers; with these adorning the myriad actions of ancient heroes for the instruction of posterity. But he who, having no touch of the Mousai’s madness in his soul, comes to the door and thinks that he will get into the temple by the help of art-he, I say, and his poetry are not admitted.”

Plato, Phaedrus :
“Sokrates: The divine madness was subdivided into four kinds, prophetic, initiatory, poetic, erotic, having four gods presiding over them; the first was the inspiration of Apollon, the second that of Dionysos, the third that of the Mousai (Muses), the fourth that of Aphrodite and Eros (Love).”

Pindar, Nemean Ode 7. 12 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
“If success crowns a man’s venture, sweeter then than honey the them he pours into the Moisai’s (Muses’) stream. But lacking the songs to praise them, the mightiest feats of valour can but find a sorry grave a deep darkness. But for fine deeds a mirror to establish, one way alone we know if Mnamosyna’s (Memory’s) shining diadem will grant recompense for their labours, in the glory of music on the tongues of men.”

Sappho, Fragment 55 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I) (C5th B.C.) :
“But when you die you will lie there, and afterwards there will never by any recollection of you or any longing for you since you have no share in the roses of Pieria [i.e. the Pierian Musesi].”

HELIKON Mountain Sanctuary in Boiotia (Central Greece) and HIPPOCRENE spring

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 29. 1 :
“The first to sacrifice on Helikon to the Mousai and to call the mountain sacred to the Mousai were, they say, Ephialtes and Otos, who also founded Askra . . . The sons of Aloeus held that the Mousai were three in number, and gave them the names Melete (Practice), Mneme (Memory), and Aoide (Song). But they say that afterwards Pieros, a Makedonian . . . came to Thespiae [in Boiotia] and established nine Mousai, changing their names to the present ones . . . Mimnermos [epic poet C7th B.C.] . . . says in the preface that the elder Mousai are the daughters of Ouranos, and that there are other and younger Mousai, children of Zeus.”

Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 9 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
“There was a musical contest [between the Mousai (Muses) and the Pierides] on Helikon (Helicon) . . . when the Mousai sang, heaven, the stars, the sea and rivers stood still, while Mount Helikon, beguiled by the pleasure of it all, swelled skyward till, by the will of Poseidon, Pegasos checked it by striking the summit with his hoof.”

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 31. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
“[The sanctuary of the Mousai (Muses) on Mount Helikon in Boiotia:] Ascending about twenty stades from this grove is what is called the Hippokrene (Horse’s Fountain). It was made, they say, by [Pegasos] the horse of Bellerophon striking the ground with this hoof.”

LEBADEIA Town in Boiotia (Central Greece) / Oracle of Trophonius

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 39. 3 :
“[Part of the rituals at the oracle of Trophonios at Lebadeia, Boiotia :] He [the supplicant] is taken by the priests, not at once to the oracle, but to fountains of water very near to each other. Here he must drink water called the water of Lethe (Forgetfulness), that he may forget all that he has been thinking of hitherto, and afterwards he drinks of another water, the water of Mnemosyne (Memory), which causes him to remember what he sees after his descent . . . After his ascent from [the oracle of] Trophonios the inquirer is again taken in hand by the priests, who set him upon a chair called the chair of Mnemosyne (Memory), which stands not far from the shrine, and they ask of him, when seated there, all he has seen or learned. After gaining this information they then entrust him to his relatives. These lift him, paralysed with terror and unconscious both of himself and of his surroundings, and carry him to the building where he lodged before with Tykhe (Fortune) and the Daimon Agathon (Good Spirit). Afterwards, however, he will recover all his faculties, and the power to laugh will return to him.”

Livadeia In the Erkyna gorge at the west end of the town is the Cold Spring(s) (the Kriyas springs – kryopegadi), probably the ancient Spring of Mnemosyne. The Springs of Memory (Mnemosyne) and Forgetfulness (Lethe) played a part in the process of consulting the oracle. Cut in the rock are recesses for votive offerings. -PlanetWare website entry on Livadeia, Boeotia.

Unclear as to whether the Kriyas springs in town are two springs sharingone location or two separate springs.

The Hippocrene and the Aganippe springs are on Mt. Helikon, the Kriya springs (Lethe.Mnemosyne)are in the town of Livadeia.

 

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