Art Gowns: Goddess Mnemosyne & the Nine Muses
By Resa McConaghy:
In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne is the Titan Goddess of memory. Her parents are Uranus and Gaea. Her eleven god and goddess siblings are Tethys, Theia, Phoebe, Rhea, Themis, Oceanus, Hyperion, Coeus, Cronus, Crius and Iapetus.
Mnemosyne was tasked with naming all of the objects on earth. She is also credited with many other realities in the world of myths. However, I am here presenting an Art Gowns idea of Mnemosyne and her nine children, the Muses.
After conquering the Titans, Zeus (the King of the Gods) banished all the male gods into the Underworld. The women remained on earth. So it came that Zeus visited Mnemosyne. Disguised as a shepherd, he spent nine nights with her. She had nine children from those nights bedded with Zeus, and these are the nine Muses of Greek Mythology.
The Making Of . . .
It all began with a long length of red silk jacquard. This fabric was repurposed from the first Art Gown I ever made. A one-shoulder drape seemed Grecian, so I started there.
The asymmetric feel was continued in the back, with an interesting strapping.
Then, yards and yards of 120-inch-wide curtain sheers (bought at a liquidation sale for $1.00/yd) were finished with a rolled hem technique. The strapping allowed me to play with the draping of the sheers by giving places to weave them in and out of.
The Nine Muses
Our neighborhood is filled with vintage shops: vintage clothing boutiques, furniture stores, vinyl record & turntable shops, jewelry counters, and knick-knacks galore. It was in a knick-knacks market that 9 interesting brass decorations were found. These 9 pieces became my representation of the Muses.
In no particular order:
Oh, the luck to find the theatrical masks of Comedy and Drama! They are the masks of Thalia & Melpomene.
"The Cheerful One" is the Muse of Comedy.
"She who Sings" is the Muse of Tragedy.
"She Who Pleases" is the Muse of Flute-playing. This is why she is often portrayed with an aulos. An aulos was made of cane or wood; it had 3 or 4 finger holes. The Greeks usually used double reeds.
She is the Muse of Epic Poetry, known as "The One with a Beautiful Voice."
Hesiod claims that she was the foremost among the nine Muses. Myth says that she inspired Homer while he wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. Often depicted holding a writing tablet, or the two Homeric poems, she attended worshipful kings and princes.
This Muse of divine hymns and mimic art also invented geometry and grammar. "She of the Many Hymns" is at times depicted with a pensive look hidden behind a veil or looking up to the sky holding a lyre.
The Muse of Dance, she designed dances. She invented the harp and education. "The One Delighting in the Dance" was always having fun dancing. Terpo is Greek for being amused, hence Terpsichore. She is portrayed holding a harp and dancing.
This Muse of History, "The Celebrator," usually holds a scroll. Also she is depicted at times with a clarion in the right arm and a book in the left.
The Muse, whose name means "The Heavenly One," is the protector of celestial objects. She invented Astronomy. You often see her holding a celestial sphere and/or bearing stars.
“The Lovely One” is the Muse of Lyric Poetry, Love, and protector of weddings. Naturally, she’s presented with a lyre, and sometimes love arrows and a bow. Her name comes from the Greek word Eros, the feeling of falling in love.
The Muses were often depicted accompanied by Apollo. Apollo symbolized discipline and application to the arts. Later, they stayed to entertain guests by Zeus’ throne. There they told tales of Zeus’ accomplishments and sang the story of creation.
Mythology is a complicated tapestry. The more you learn, the more threads you have to weave with. There are oodles of sites online, and endless books and art on the subject. The links I present are a few pages I used to remind myself of the story of Mnemosyne and the Nine Muses.
Mythology.net is a fabulous and well-organized site. It covers Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, and other myths and creatures.
An established costume designer in film, television and digital media, Resa McConaghy has worked on productions for Showtime, ABC, Disney, CBS, CBC, Hallmark, and more.
Her mission: to enable the articulation of character through wardrobe.
Take a look at Resa's other Art Gowns: