Muses in popular culture

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Sarcophagus known as the "Muses Sarcophagus", representing the nine Muses and their attributes. Marble, first half of the 2nd century AD, found by the Via Ostiense.

The nine Muses of Greek mythology have been portrayed in many different modern fictional works.

Nine Muses[edit]

The names of the nine muses are: Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, Clio, the muse of history, Erato, the muse of lyric poetry, Euterpe, the muse of song, Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, Polyhymnia, the muse of hymns, Terpsichore, the muse of dance, Thalia, the muse of comedy, and Urania, the muse of astronomy.

Popular music[edit]

  • In 2010, a South Korean all-female idol group debuted under the name 'Nine Muses'.
  • A Japanese virtual female idol group "μ's" (pronounces as "Muse") is formed by the multimedia project "Love Live! - School idol Project". Active since 2010.

Calliope[edit]

Literature[edit]

  • In Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff, a magical woman named Calliope acts as a Muse for the protagonist of the novel. Though she is never explicitly said to be the Calliope of Greek mythology, she is immortal, magical, and is described as enjoying retsina and feta, both Greek foods.
  • Calliope is the name of a character in Francesca Lia Block's novels Ecstasia and Primavera, both of which are heavily influenced by myth.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Soul Music, characters make frequent reference to a Muse called Cantaloupe (hesitating because they are unsure whether the name is right).
  • Calliope is the name of a character in Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, a novel containing frequent allusions to Greek mythology.
  • In Nick Sagan's Idlewild, the main character, suffers amnesia after a power surge, referred to as the Calliope Surge. The author notes that the muse Calliope was the daughter of Mnemosyne, the personification of memory.
  • In Christopher Moore's Sacré Bleu a muse of art helps painters paint their most wonderful works using ultramarine blue (sacre bleu), but at a cost.

Film and television[edit]

  • In the Xena: Warrior Princess season 4 episode "A Tale of Two Muses", a town of worshipers of Calliope is convinced to overturn their ban on dancing, a dictate they believe the muse herself handed down.
  • In the Frasier season 7 episode "They're Playing Our Song", Frasier thanks Calliope for the theme he writes for his show.
  • In television supernatural drama Charmed, season 4 episode 9 "Muse to My Ear", the Charmed Ones must protect the muses from a warlock who is trapping them into a magical ring and using their inspiration to make the Forces of Evil more powerful.
  • In episode 126 ("Out of Sync") from the animated series Cyberchase, Calliope plays her lyre and she's one of the four Mount Olympus band members with Apollo the Greek god of music (who plays the gong), Himaropa the siren (who plays the horn), and the Beast (who plays the drums).

Theater[edit]

  • Several muses are the focus of the 2007 musical Xanadu, which is based on the 1980 film of the same name. The story revolves around Clio, who is played by Kerry Butler.

Video games[edit]

  • In the God of War video game series, Calliope is the name of the daughter of Kratos, the protagonist. Although she is not a muse, she does play a flute.

Webcomics[edit]

  • In Homestuck, Calliope is the name of one of the two cherubs. Her title is the Muse of Space.
  • In Namesake, Calliope is the name of an organization of Namesakes who fight against the Rippers.

Clio[edit]

Erato[edit]

  • Erato is the name of a Bosnian R&B duo.
  • A teenaged Erato, going by the name "Era", is one of the three lead characters in Clea Hantman's Goddesses series.
  • Erato is a character in the 2007 musical Xanadu, which is based on the 1980 film of the same name. She was played by Kenita R. Miller in the original Broadway production.

Euterpe[edit]

  • Euterpe is a character in the 2007 musical Xanadu, which is based on the 1980 film of the same name. She was played by Anika Larsen in the original Broadway production.
  • Euterpe was the former name of the tall ship Star of India prior to 1906.
  • Euterpe is the name of an insert song in the Japanese anime Guilty Crown, sung by the fictional band Egoist.

Melpomene[edit]

Polyhymnia[edit]

  • In the 1951 Danish film Mød mig på Cassiopeia ("Meet me on Cassiopeia"), the muse Polyhymnia appears before the protagonist and inspires him to finish his work.
  • Polyhymnia is one of the main characters in the 1955 Tom Puss story De Muzenis.
  • The protagonist of Madeleine L'Engle's Polly O'Keefe novels is named after the muse Polyhymnia.
  • A teenaged Polyhymnia, going by the name "Polly", is one of the three lead characters in Clea Hantman's Goddesses series.
  • Polyhymnia is a character in the 2007 musical Xanadu, which is based on the 1980 film of the same name.

Terpsichore[edit]

Terpsichore holding an Aeolian harp. Sculpted in marble by John Walsh in 1771.

Literature[edit]

  • Kurt Vonnegut's character Rabo Karabekian briefly makes reference to Terpsichore in the 1987 novel Bluebeard.
  • In Daniel Quinn's My Ishmael, the fictional planet Terpischore is a land ravished by dancing, with dancing paralleling the rise of agriculture on Earth. Dancing (in an unspecified manner) speeds up the growth of the natives' "favorite foods".
  • In the China Miéville novel "The Scar", the main characters travel on a ship called the Terpsichoria.

Film and TV[edit]

Music[edit]

Theater[edit]

  • Terpsichore is a character in the 2007 musical Xanadu, which is based on the 1980 film of the same name. Her part is always played by a man in drag. She was played by Andre Ward in the original Broadway production.

Thalia[edit]

The Greco-Roman mask of Thalia in a Three Stooges comedy short title card.
  • The comic mask of Thalia featured in each title card of every Three Stooges short produced from the 1945 Idiots Deluxe until their final one in 1959, Sappy Bull Fighters.
  • Thalia features in the 1997 Walt Disney Pictures film Hercules, appearing alongside the muses Calliope, Clio, Melpomene and Terpsichore, who collectively serve as a Greek chorus. Portrayed as a short and plump, she has the deepest voice amongst the five Muses depicted and true to nature, often makes the funniest comments. She was voiced by Roz Ryan, who reprised the role in the subsequent TV series.
  • In the Static Shock episode "Hard as Nails", Harley Quinn uses the alias "Thalia".
  • In the maxi-series 'Countdown to Final Crisis', it is also Harley Quinn who is temporarily bestowed the aspect of Thalia to fight for the gods.
  • Thalia is a character in the 2007 musical Xanadu, which is based on the 1980 film of the same name. Her part is always played by a man in drag. She was played by Curtis Holbrook in the original Broadway production.
  • A teenaged Thalia is the narrator and one of the three lead characters in Clea Hantman's Goddesses series.

Urania[edit]

  • Urania is the name of a long-running Italian science fiction magazine.
  • Urania appears as a character (among other gods and mythic figures) in a comic drawn by Larry Gonick for the children's science magazine Muse.
  • Urania is a character in the 2007 musical Xanadu, which is based on the 1980 film of the same name.

References[edit]