Classic mythology tells us there are nine muses, all women. Classical mythology is wrong. There are any number of Muses, male and female, and I've met several along the way. I've read that all great writers have muses, and who am I to disagree? My primary muse is named Joe, a third cousin twice removed of the Muses of Mt. Olympus and, like so many of the characters in my books, he just suddenly appeared with no forethought or advance notice. But I liked him the minute he casually strolled through the always-open door of my mind, glancing idly about as if looking for cobwebs in the corners. I've had numerous occasions to call upon him when, during a pleasant jog through a story, my mind sends me off the path and into a quicksand bog.
So in the interests of gender equality, let's take a brief look at the original muses--immortals all--and their little-known male siblings/counterparts.
Calliope is the muse of Epic Poetry—though from her name I’d have thought she’d have been the muse of pipe-organ players. Although I do write poetry from time to time, none of it has ever come even close to being epic, so we won’t be seeing much of Calliope’s male counterpart, whose name escapes me at the moment.
Clio, muse of History, has a brother, Mike, with whom I've consulted briefly a few times when historical accuracy was a factor in a story, but we don't really hang out together all that much.
Euterpe oversees Lyric Poetry; and she looks so much like her sister Calliope that I find it hard to tell them apart. Her brother's name is Algernon, and he's such an unbearable snob that we don't speak.
Melpomene…I really love that name…and her brother Chuck are the muses of Tragedy, and they tend to be so busy in the real world, I try to avoid calling them too often.
Terpsichore, muse of Choral Dance and Song, has taken out a restraining order against me for my total lack of talent in either of her fields of expertise, and while I know she has a male counterpart, he also not only refuses to speak to me but won’t even let me know his name.
Erato, whose name pretty much gives away what her domain is, is the muse of Love Poetry, and her male counterpart’s name is Butch, who wears a lot of leather. I’m afraid Butch considers me too much of a wimp to want to spend much time in my company.
Polyhymnia, whose name I also love, is muse of Sacred Poetry, and her brother’s name is Archibald who, like Euterpe's brother Algernon, can be a real pain in the patoot. He considers me a gross buffoon, so we mutually cross the street to avoid running into one another.
(Have you noticed there seem to be an awful lot of muses in charge of poetry?)
Thalia and her brother Skip are the muses of comedy, and I’m really very fond of them, though Skip seems to be a little too fond of whoopee cushions and knock-knock jokes for my taste.
And then, inexplicably, we have Urania, muse of Astrology, who seems to be the black sheep of the Muse family. No one seems really to know what to do with her. I mean, a muse of astrology? Come on! I understand she has a brother named Phil, but apparently he ran off to join the circus when he was very young and hasn’t been heard from since.
Which brings us back to Joe. Joe is my personal muse of fiction writing. For some totally unknown reason, the Greeks never assigned a muse for fiction writing. Four muses devoted to poetry, and not one to fiction writing? And if you’re tempted to say “Well, the Greeks never wrote much fiction,” I beg to strongly differ, pointing you to the Iliad and the Odyssey and, in fact, to all of mythology, including the muses. You’d have thought they’d have come up with a muse for it. Well, now they have Joe, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re stuck with him.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).