The Muses, the personification of knowledge and the arts, especially literature, dance and music, are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Sometimes they are referred to as water nymphs, associated with the springs of Helicon and with Pieris. According to Pausanias in the later 2nd century AD, there were three original Muses, worshiped on Mount Helicon in Boeotia. In later tradition, four Muses were recognised: Thelxinoë, Aoedē, Arche, and Meletē, said to be daughters of Zeus and Plusia or of Uranus. In Renaissance and Neoclassical art, the dissemination of emblem books such as Cesare Ripa's Iconologia helped standardize the depiction of the Muses in sculpture and painting.
The Muses were both the embodiments and sponsors of performed metrical speech: mousike was just "one of the arts of the Muses". Others included Science, Geography, Mathematics, Philosophy, and especially Art, Drama, and inspiration. Some authors invoke Muses when writing poetry, hymns or epic history. The invocation typically occurs at or near the beginning, and calls for help or inspiration, or simply invites the Muse to sing through the author. The British poet Robert Graves popularised the concept of the Muse-poet in modern times. His concept was based on pre-12th century traditions of the Celtic poets, the tradition of the medieval troubadours who celebrated the concept of courtly love, and the romantic poets.
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