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Headword: Μοῦσα
Adler number: mu,1291
Translated headword: Muse
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] knowledge.[1] From [the verb] μῶ [which means] I seek;[2] for she happens to be the cause of all education.[3] So with good reason the ancients called her Muse. Altogether they are nine: Kleio, Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania, Kalliope. But according to the tradition of the theologians the Muses are many, because learning and education has great variety and is useful for every need.
Greek Original:
Μοῦσα: ἡ γνῶσις. ἀπὸ τοῦ μῶ, τὸ ζητῶ: ἐπειδὴ ἁπάσης παιδείας αὕτη τυγχάνει αἰτία. εἰκότως οὖν οἱ ἀρχαῖοι Μοῦσαν αὐτὴν ἐκάλεσαν. εἰσὶ δὲ πᾶσαι ἐννέα: Κλειώ, Εὐτέρπη, Θάλεια, Μελπομένη, Τερψιχόρη, Ἐρατώ, Πολύμνια, Οὐρανία, Καλλιόπη. πολλὰς δὲ τὰς Μούσας ὑπὸ τῶν θεολόγων παραδεδόσθαι, διότι πολὺ τὸ ποικίλον ἔχει τὰ μαθήματα καὶ παιδεύματα, καὶ πρὸς πᾶσαν χρῆσιν οἰκεῖον.
From ancient comment on the opening of Hesiod's Works and Days: 'Muses of Pieria who give glory through song'. See generally OCD4 s.v. A Roman mosaic floor found in Luxemburg shows Homer and the Muses: web address 1.
[1] From the scholia to Aristophanes, Clouds 313, where the headword appears.
[2] The middle form μάομαι is a dialectal variant of μαίομαι meaning "search." There was a theory, promoted by Philoxenos of Alexandria (phi 394), that the Greek vocabulary was based on a core of monosyllabic verbs (like μῶ ): see Dickey, 3.1.10 (p. 85).
[3] cf. Helladius in Photius, Bibliotheca 531a2, Eustathius I.9.35.
Eleanor Dickey, Ancient Greek Scholarship: A Guide to Finding, Reading, and Understanding Scholia, Commentaries, Lexica, and Grammatical Treatises, from Their Beginnings to the Byzantine Period. American Philological Association Classical Resource Series. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007
Tomasz Mojsik, Between Tradition and Innovation: genealogy, names and the number of the Muses (Warsaw 2011); reviewed Penelope Murray, BMCR 2012.09.56
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: Christianity; comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; mythology; poetry; religion
Translated by: Catharine Roth on 1 October 2004@23:57:33.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 3 October 2004@05:28:17.
Catharine Roth (added link) on 8 August 2006@11:50:03.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 9 August 2006@03:02:40.
David Whitehead (added bibliography) on 30 September 2012@04:26:12.
Catharine Roth (augmented note 2 and bibliography) on 3 October 2012@01:40:58.
David Whitehead on 27 May 2013@07:34:49.
David Whitehead on 9 August 2014@09:03:25.
Catharine Roth (cross-reference) on 9 August 2014@16:19:57.


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