Information about Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance and the Greek Chorus
Terpsichore 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. Terpsichore 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. Terpsichore was the Muse of Dance and the Greek Chorus.
Terpsichore the Muse of Dance and the Greek Chorus
According to the traditions and beliefs of the Ancient Greeks a dramatist writing a play or drama including the songs for the chorus would invoke the aid of Terpsichore to guide and assist him in his work. The invocation took the form of a prayer for divine inspiration from the goddess. The theatre was an important and primary form of entertainment for the Ancient Greeks and plays were often combined with music and dance. Plays in ancient Greece consisted of three major parts: the prologue, the chorus and the scenes. The play began with a prologue, which was a simple, introductory speech. Then, there was the entrance of the chorus. Finally, there were major scenes of the play. In Greek drama the chorus, or the singers, told the story, not the actors. Actors used gestures and masks to act out their parts and changed roles by changing masks. The symbol of Terpsichore was the lyre, which was a strummed and occasionally plucked string instrument, built on a tortoise-shell frame, refer to the Myth of the Lyre of Apollo. The lyre was used as an accompaniment for recitation and song. The Greek god Apollo was important to the Muses and referred to as their teacher. Terpsichore would dance to the sound of Apollo's lyre. The Apollonian dance was a ceremonial dance accompanied by lyres, lutes and kitharas and performed during religious festivals and social dances.
Facts about Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance and the Greek Chorus
The following fact file about this Greek goddess and Muse and details her symbols and attributes.
Terpsichore was the Muse who represented and was the patron of Dance and the Greek Chorus
In Greek drama, the chorus, or the singers, told the story, not the actors
She was the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne
She was called 'Whirler of the Dance'
Her symbol is a lyre and she is often depicted playing this instrument in a seated position
Another of her emblems is the cymbal
She is said to be the mother of the Sirens by Achelous
Astrology - The Asteroid Muse
In Astrology there are nine asteroids named after each of the nine Greek muses. Terpsichore is a large and very dark main belt asteroid. It was discovered by Ernst Tempel on September 30, 1864 and named after the Muse of dance in Greek mythology.
Terpsichore in Greek Mythology
The muse and goddess Terpsichore was not only gifted as an inspiration of Dance and the Greek Chorus but, like all nymphs possessed the gift of prophecy. The mountain spring on Mount Parnassus was sacred to Terpsichore 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 Terpsichore 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 Terpsichore 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 Terpsichore and the other Muses to a contest. The Muses won and then turned the Pierides into chattering birds.