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Goddess of Dancing and Chorus
Member of the Muses
Terpsichore from Villa Adriana (Prado E-41) 01.jpg
Greek statue of Terpsichore from Hadrian's villa, presently at the Prado Museum (Madrid)
AbodeMount Olympus
SymbolsLyre, plectrum
Personal information
ParentsZeus and Mnemosyne
SiblingsEuterpe, Polyhymnia, Urania, Clio, Erato, Thalia, Calliope, Melpomene, Aeacus, Angelos, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Dionysus, Eileithyia, Enyo, Eris, Ersa, Hebe, Helen, Hephaestus, Heracles, Hermes, Minos, Pandia, Persephone, Perseus, Rhadamanthus, the Graces, the Horae, the Litae, the Moirai
ConsortApollo, Achelous, Ares
ChildrenLinus, Biston, the Sirens
Terpsichore on an antique fresco from Pompeii

In Greek mythology, Terpsichore (/tərpˈsɪkər/; Greek: Τερψιχόρη, "delight in dancing") is one of the nine Muses and goddess of dance and chorus.[1] She lends her name to the word "terpsichorean", which means "of or relating to dance".


Terpsichore is usually depicted sitting down, holding a lyre, accompanying the dancers' choirs with her music. Her name comes from the Greek words τέρπω ("delight") and χoρός ("dance").


Tradition portrays Terpsichore as the mother of the Sirens (including Parthenope) by the river-god Achelous.[2] In some accounts, she bore the Thracian king Biston by Ares.[3] By another river-god, Strymon, Terpsichore mothered the Thracian king Rhesus.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

Terpsichore, Muse of Music and ballet, an oil on canvas painting by Jean-Marc Nattier (1739).



  • Terpsichore is the name of a street in New Orleans' historic neighborhoods of Faubourg Lafayette and the Lower Garden District. It runs alongside Euterpe and Melpomene streets, also named for Greek muses.
  • Terpsichorean is the name of the Choreography Society of Hans Raj College, University of Delhi.
  • Terpsichore is the name of the Mississippi State University Dance Theatre Company in Starkville Mississippi.


  • Terpsichore figures among her sisters in Hesiod's Theogony.
  • When The Histories of Herodotus were divided by later editors into nine books, each book was named after a Muse. Terpsichore was the name of the fifth book.
  • The character of Wilkins Micawber, Esq, Jr. is described as a "votary of Terpsichore", in an Australian newspaper brought to London by Dan Peggotty in 1850 novel David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
  • T. S. Eliot in the poem Jellicle Cats from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939), refers to the "terpsichorean powers'" Jellicle Cats as they dance by the light of the Jellicle Moon.
  • Terpischore "Choral Dance" is the name of a chapter in Theresa Cha's Dictee.
  • "Some Terpsichore" is the title of a short story in a 2014 book, Thunderstruck and Other Stories, by Elizabeth McCracken.
  • Terpsichore is referenced in George Orwell's first novel Burmese Days (1934) in a dialogue by one of the minor characters, Mr. Macgegror.
  • Terpsichore Station is the name of a mining facility in the Star Wars novel Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
  • Terpsichore is the immortal parent of Russian Jewish demigod Lavinia Asimov in Rick Riordan's Trials of Apollo series.

Music and dance[edit]

Augustin Pajou, The Muse Terpsichore, c. 1768, red chalk on laid paper, in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.


  • In the 1947 film Down To Earth, Rita Hayworth plays Terpsichore, who is annoyed and visits Earth to change a musical that depicts her in a bad light.[6]
  • Olivia Newton-John plays the muse Terpsichore as "Kira" in the 1980 film Xanadu, a film inspired by Down To Earth.[7]
  • Terpsichore is featured as a character in the 1997 Disney animated film Hercules. She appears in the Hercules animated series and plays an active role in the episode Hercules and the Muse of Dance, where she tutors Hercules on his dancing to pass in phys ed.


  • Terpsichore, a genus of ferns in the family Polypodiaceae, subfamily Grammitidoideae named after the Muse[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Theoi Project, Greek Mythology, Muses [1], Retrieved April 29, 2014
  2. ^ Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 4.892; Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13.309; Tzetzes, Chiliades, 1.14, line 338 & 348
  3. ^ Etymologicum Magnum, 197. 59 s. v. Bistoniē
  4. ^ Eustathius on Homer, Iliad p. 817.
  5. ^ Siren terpsichore, 2012, OCLC 1253360564, retrieved 2021-09-16
  6. ^ "New Flower Named For Rita Hayworth". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. August 29, 1946. p. 15. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  7. ^ Ross, Robert Alan (August 23, 1980). "'Xanadu' is a pale imitation of old musicals". St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Florida. p. 5B. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  8. ^ Smith, Alan R. (1993). "Terpsichore, a New Genus of Grammitidaceae (Pteridophyta)". Novon. 3 (4): 478–489. doi:10.2307/3391398. JSTOR 3391398.

External links[edit]