Melpomene was a source of inspiration to poets, dramatists and authors, such as Homer, who lived in Ancient Greece.
Information about Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy
Melpomene 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. Melpomene 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. Melpomene was the Muse of Tragedy.
Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy
According to the traditions and beliefs of the Ancient Greeks a dramatist writing a tragedy play would invoke the aid of Melpomene 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. Plays were often combined with music and dance. There were three genres of drama: comedy, tragedy and satyr plays. In Tragedies, whose patron was Melpomene, one or more major characters always suffered a disastrous end. Satyr plays made fun of mortal legends and of real people. In comedy plays there was always had a happy ending. 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 and plays 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 two masks, the laughing face and the the weeping face, associated with drama represented the division between comedy and tragedy. The masks were the symbols of the Muses named Thalia and Melpomene. Thalia was the Muse of comedy (the laughing face), while Melpomene was the Muse of tragedy (the weeping face). The actors in tragedies wore boots called cothurni that elevated them above the other actors. The actors in comedic roles only wore a thin soled shoe called a sock. Melpomene, as the muse of comedy was associated with the mask of tragedy and the and wearing the cothurni boots.
Facts about Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy
The following fact file about this Greek goddess and Muse and details her symbols and attributes.
Melpomene was the Muse who represented and was the patron of Tragedy
She was the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne
Melpomene was the Muse who was first represented song and then became the patron of Tragedy
She was called the 'Songstress'
Her name was derived from the Greek words meaning "to celebrate with dance and song."
She is often represented with a tragic mask and wearing the cothurnus, boots that were traditionally worn by actors in Greek tragedies.
Astrology - The Asteroid Muse
In Astrology there are nine asteroids named after each of the nine Greek muses. Melpomene is a large, bright main-belt asteroid that was discovered by J. R. Hind on June 24, 1852, and named after the Muse of tragedy in Greek mythology.
Melpomene in Greek Mythology
The muse and goddess Melpomene was not only gifted as an inspiration of Tragedy but, like all nymphs possessed the gift of prophecy. The mountain spring on Mount Parnassus was sacred to Melpomene 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 Melpomene 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 Melpomene 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 Melpomene and the other Muses to a contest. The Muses won and then turned the Pierides into chattering birds.