The Muses Aren’t Just For Artists


You’ve heard of the Muses, right? Nowadays it’s a figure of speech to mean the inspiration for some artistic adventure, but the ancient Greeks took it much more seriously than that. They believed that artistic inspiration truly did have a divine source – the muses, seven goddesses who gave that essential creative spark that allowed artists to be artists.

Among their number was Tersichore, the Muse of the dancer. Or the Thalia, the Muse of the comedian. The Greeks took certain kinds of artistic expression very seriously, and so they named what they believed to be the essential Muses.

And then there was Urania. She was the Muse of the astronomer.

The astronomer. The philosopher. What we might now call the scientist.

The ancient Greeks took thinking very seriously, and they believe that astronomy, the spark or the desire to wonder about the nature the world around us, didn’t come from inside ourselves, but from the divine. The whisper of Urania was all it took to set a philosopher or astronomer off on a line of thoughts or a great insight.

The spark that ignites an artist today isn’t so different than the spark that ignites a scientist. We’re curious about the natural world, we’re wondering how it all works and what our place is, and we’re trying to make sense of it all. We struggle through weeks and months and years of hard laborious work, chasing a dream or an idea. And we make huge jumps when we have flashes of brilliant inspiration and incredible leaps of insight.

The ancient Greeks knew it thousands of years ago: the scientist isn’t so different from the artist after all.

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