(en)LIV(en)ING With the Muses-Clio
This is the third posting of the (en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses Series
The Muse, Clio is considered the Muse of History. Her name, sometimes spelled Kleio is a form of the greek verb, “Kleo” which means to make famous, to recall or to celebrate. She makes full use of her birth right as the daughter of Mnemosyne (Goddess of Remembrance) as memory is a key component that every historian must rely upon to accurately give account of events, people and places. Unlike her sisters, who are more directly related to the act of inspiring whatever their specialty is, Clio works at the level of codifying and giving durability to what is the product of those inspirations.
The versatility of her nature and governance is seen in the epithets for her, which include: Daughter of the Lord of Cloud-capped Heaven, Giver of Sweetness, High-Throned, Queen of Song, Flowering, and Unforgetting. The Greek lyric poet, Pindar says of Clio and her influence on the bringing to renown those who would be so honored:
“Of song grant, of my skill, full measure. Strike, O daughter of the lord of cloud-capped heaven, chords to his honour; mine to wed them with the youthful voices and with the lyre . . . In your honour then, if high-throned Kleio (Clio) wills, for your proud spirit of conquest.” 1.
Clio is often depicted holding many scrolls or a single open scroll, and in more recent times with books sitting at her feet. Hers is not only the gift of recording those events which are to be celebrated and added as markers of history but also that of the retelling of those events, so they may be the source of inspiring those who would through their actions be the future creators of history yet unwritten. The Greek historian, Diodorus speaks of Kleio (Clio) in this way:
“To each of the Mousai (Muses) men assign her special aptitude for one of the branches of the liberal arts, such as poetry, song, pantomimic dancing, the round dance with music, the study of the stars, and the other liberal arts . . . For the name of each Mousa, they say, men have found a reason appropriate to her . . . Kleio (Clio) is so named because the praise which poets sing in their encomia bestows great glory (kleos) upon those who are praised.” 2.
Another of her names was that of “the Proclaimer”. This nomenclature was exemplified in the story recounting that Clio openly declared her disapproval of the Goddess Aphrodite’s pursuit of Adonis; whom Clio had been having affairs with secretly. In retaliation, Aphrodite crafted a curse that made Clio fall in love with the King of Macedonia, Pierus and forget her infatuation with Adonis. A son was supposedly born of that union named Hyacinthus who was renown for his grace and beauty. His lover the God Apollo killed Hyacinthus, and, it is said that where his blood lay, flowers arose of great beauty as tribute to his love and purity. These are the perennials, Hyacinths noted for their sweet and intoxicating fragrance and of notable fame in the quote by Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier’s:
“If thou of fortune be bereft, and in thy store there be but left two loaves, sell one, and with the dole, buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.” 3.
Clio had a second son, Hymenaios who was the God of marriage, epic feasts and songs. The officiating nature of his Mother, Clio is seen in the magnitude of the types of events her son presided over. His was the governance of those times that would become part of the history of those for whom these auspicious events occurred.
Time and again, through art and literature, politics and education, Clio’s hand has been the underlying energy that gives timeless meaning and importance to whatever it is applied to. The 17th Century Dutch Painter, Johannes Vermeer, makes reference to Clio in his painting The Art of Painting. In this painting she depicted wearing standard garb of the time, a laurel wreath adorning her head, and carrying a trumpet. The wreath and trumpet both symbols of triumph and the jubilant announcement of that status.
Detail of The art of Painting
“ The artist observes his model, who is dressed as Clio, the muse of history. As he records her image carefully on his canvas, he is not so much the recipient of the muse’s inspiration as the agent through whom she takes on life and significance. Clio wears a crown of laurel on her head to denote honor, glory, and eternal life. In one hand she holds a trumpet, which stands for fame, and in the other she clasps a thick folio, perhaps a volume of Thucydides, which symbolizes history. These were the attributes ascribed to her by Cesare Ripa in his Iconologia, a sixteenth-century book of emblems and personifications that was widely used by artists.” 2.
The art of Painting
Another depiction of Clio is found in a mosaic of the poet Virgil, who is seen in process of writing his epic poem, The Aenid in the presence of two of the Muses. In this scene “ the Roman poet Virgil, seated with a sheet of scrolls in his hand, is attended by two Mousai, Kleio the Muse of history with a scroll, and Melpomene the Muse of tragedy with a tragic mask.”
VIRGIL & THE MOUSAI
And, finally, a more modern testament to the lasting influence of the Muse of History and the need for the recording of its facts is the representation of Clio found in the National Statuary Hall of the capital building in Washington, DC. Gracing the doorway into this illustrious hall that served as meeting place for the decisive and historical actions of the House of Representatives from 1807 to 1857 is the Car of History designed by sculptor Carlo Franzoni in 1819. Clio stands within a winged chariot that serves as the vehicle and personification that represents the passing of history through the ages. In place of the ancient scroll, she holds her book of remembrance and records the events of history as they unfold. The chariot has a singular wheel that is a clock representing the passage of time in the hours and minutes of the days. The Chariot sits atop a marble globe which has the signs of the Zodiac on it completing the reference to the eternal and cyclical nature of time, events and the never ending history that is created by its turning.
The Car of History
Remembering Your Own History:
When I consider the gifts of Clio I am reminded of my own personal history; in particular what I have learned from my Mother. My history is rich in strong women who shouldered responsibility, accepting all that came their way and making at times difficult choices to insure that there was a roof overhead, food on the table and a better life for their children than what they had endured. I am reminded of the history that I have helped to create for my own family and children and the opportunity to call upon Clio’s energy of celebration and lessons earned from past experience to write a new script if needed that is more positively filled.
In my spiritual work, I call upon Clio to remind me of the history of my spiritual path and those who paved the way, the sacrifices made and the eternal wisdom that has become the foundation of my teachings and learning. I call upon Clio to help me keep my intentions in order so that those who follow in my footsteps may benefit from the history I will someday leave.
In my mundane life, I call upon Clio to remind me that each action I take and each person with whom I interact has a piece of his or her own history to share. This is often not something that is overtly elicited but if I remain poised with metaphorical pen and book of remembrance in hand, the synthesis of our time together will write a new history that each of us will collectively call our own.
The next post will focus on the Muse, Erato and her gifts of Lyrical poetry
1. Pindar, Nemean Ode 3. 10 & 82 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.).
2. From: Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 7. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.).
3. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., ed., Johannes Vermeer [Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Mauritshuis, The Hague] (Washington, 1995).
4. John Greenleaf Whittier. Quaker Poet 1807-1892.
Statuary of Clio: The Vatican Museum.Rome
Detail and Full Painting: The art of Painting by Johannes Vermeer
The Art of Painting, c. 1666, oil on canvas. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Image: VIRGIL & THE MOUSAI, Mosiac
Bardo Museum, Tunis, Tunisia
Image: The Car of History
Carlo Franzoni. 1819. National Statuary Hall
About the Author:
Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author. She is the author of:
The Inner Chamber, Vol. One
It’s Written in the Stars
The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two
poetry of the spheres
The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three
Awakening the Paths
A Year With Gaia
The Eternal Cord
Temple of the Sun and Moon
The Magickal Pen, Volume One
A Collection of Esoteric Writings
The Elemental Year
Aligning the Parts of SELF
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Musings on the Magick of the Natural World
Sleeping with the Goddess
Nights of Devotion
A Weekly Reflection
Musings for the Year
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