In Greek mythology, the Muses were a sisterhood of spirits who ruled over the arts and inspired the creative process. They were daughters of Zeus, king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. The Muses are still referred to as sources of inspiration. They are also implied in the words amusing and to muse upon.
- Calliope: The One with the Beautiful Voice. Chief of the nine Muses and the patron of epic poetry. She was also the mother of Orpheus. Her symbol was a writing tablet.
- Clio: The Proclaimer. She presided over history, and was the inventor of historical and heroic poetry. She brought the Phoenician alphabet to Greece. Her symbol was a scroll.
- Erato: The Passionate or Lovely One. The Muse of lyric poetry about love and eroticism. She was also the Muse of mimicry and the patron of parrots and crows.
- Euterpe: One Who Rejoices Well. Patron of lyric poetry and music and known as the cheerful muse in charge of joy, pleasure and flute playing. Her symbol was the double flute.
- Polyhymnia: The Singer of Many Hymns. The somber and beautiful Muse that ruled over sacred hymns and eloquence. Often depicted as a serious woman in a thoughtful position, sometimes with a finger to her mouth.
- Melpomene: The Chanting One. The patron of tragedy. She was often showing wearing the cothurnus (boots traditionally worn by tragic actors), and carrying or wearing the tragic mask.
- Terpsichore: One Who Rejoices in the Dance. The Muse of dancing and choral singing. She was usually shown dancing with a lyre in her hands. Said to be the mother of the Sirens.
- Thalia: The Flourishing or Blossoming One. She presided over comedy and pastoral poetry, and was depicted holding a comic mask. Fond of the forest and field, she frequently carried a shepherd’s crook.
- Urania: The Celestial One. The patron of astronomy and astrology. She was often shown carrying a globe in one hand and a pair of compasses in the other.