Information about Polyhymnia, the Muse of Sacred Music
Polyhymnia was one of the young, beautiful maidens referred to as the Nine Muses. The nine Muses were the daughters of Zeus, the king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The names of the nine Muses were Clio, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Terpsichore, Urania and Melpomene. Polyhymnia and her sisters were believed to reside above the golden clouds that covered sacred the Greek mountain peaks above the summits of Mounts Olympus, Helicon, Parnassus, and Pindus. They entertained and joined the Olympian gods in their feasts drinking water, milk, and honey, but never wine. The sisters were originally the patron goddesses of poets and musicians but over time their roles extended to include comedy, tragedy, history, poetry, music, dancing, singing, rhetoric, sacred hymns, and harmony. Polyhymnia was the Muse of Sacred Music.
Polyhymnia, the Muse of Sacred Music
According to the traditions and beliefs of the Ancient Greeks historians would invoke the aid of Clio to guide and assist him in his work. The invocation took the form of a prayer for divine inspiration from the goddess. In the Dionysiaca of Nonnus:
"She waved her arms and sketched in the air an image of a soundless voice, speaking with hands and moving eyes
in a graphic picture of silence full of meaning."
In addressing a prayer to an Olympian god, the suppliant stood with his arms raised and palms upward. Greek religion was not based on a written creed but their sacred writings survive in the form of hymns. Most elaborate are the Homeric Hymns, some of which may have been composed for religious festivals. Inscriptions from the Delphic oracles included hymns to Apollo.
Facts about Polyhymnia, the Muse of Sacred Music
The following fact file about this Greek goddess and Muse and details her symbols and attributes.
Polyhymnia was the Muse who represented and was the patron of sacred music, religious hymns, prayer and sacred dance
Also associated with poetry, oratory and rhetoric and given credit for being the Muse of geometry, grammar and of meditation
She was the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne
Referred to as 'She of the Many Hymns'
She was perceived as the serious, eloquent Muse
Her symbol is a veil which was used to cover the head and implies the traits of a virgin priestess
She is and also associated with meditation and this is reflected by depictions of her leaning on a column apparently in deep thought
Astrology - The Asteroid Muse
In Astrology there are nine asteroids named after each of the nine Greek muses. Polyhymnia is a main belt asteroid that was discovered by J. Chacornac on October 28, 1854 and named after the Greek Muse of sacred hymns.
Polyhymnia in Greek Mythology
The muse and goddess Polyhymnia was not only gifted as an inspiration of Sacred Music but, like all nymphs possessed the gift of prophecy. The mountain spring on Mount Parnassus was sacred to Polyhymnia and the other Muses. The mountain spring flowed between two high rocks above the city of Delphi, and in ancient times its sacred waters were introduced into a square stone basin, where they were retained for the use of the Pythia, the priests, priestesses and the oracle of Apollo.
The Powers of Polyhymnia and the Muses
Although the Muses were generally believed to be a source of inspiration and of help to mortals they were also vain and arrogant and severely resented any mortals who questioned their supremacy in the arts. The powers of Polyhymnia and her sisters were considerable. As goddesses, they were immortal and any mortals that were blessed by the Muses, could use the beauty of their song, or the grace of their dance, to heal the sick and provide comfort to the heartbroken. They also possessed the magical power of transformation and in one of the ancient myths nine sisters referred to as the Pierides challenged Polyhymnia and the other Muses to a contest. The Muses won and then turned the Pierides into chattering birds.