Information about Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy
Melpomene was one of the young, beautiful maidens referred to as the Nine Muses. The nine Muses were the daughters of Zeus, the king of the gods, and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The names of the nine Muses were Clio, Thalia, Erato, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope, Terpsichore, Urania and Melpomene. Melpomene and her sisters were believed to reside above the golden clouds that covered sacred the Greek mountain peaks above the summits of Mounts Olympus, Helicon, Parnassus, and Pindus. They entertained and joined the Olympian gods in their feasts drinking water, milk, and honey, but never wine. The sisters were originally the patron goddesses of poets and musicians but over time their roles extended to include comedy, Tragedy, history, poetry, music, dancing, singing, rhetoric, sacred hymns, and harmony. Melpomene was the Muse of Tragedy.
Picture of the Nine Muses
Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy
According to the traditions and beliefs of the Ancient Greeks a dramatist writing a tragedy play would invoke the aid of Melpomene to guide and assist him in his work. The invocation took the form of a prayer for divine inspiration from the goddess. The theatre was an important and primary form of entertainment for the Ancient Greeks. Plays were often combined with music and dance. There were three genres of drama: comedy, tragedy and satyr plays. In Tragedies, whose patron was Melpomene, one or more major characters always suffered a disastrous end. Satyr plays made fun of mortal legends and of real people. In comedy plays there was always had a happy ending. Plays in ancient Greece consisted of three major parts: the prologue, the chorus and the scenes. The play began with a prologue, which was a simple, introductory speech. Then, there was the entrance of the chorus. Finally, there were major scenes of the play. In Greek drama and plays the chorus, or the singers, told the story, not the actors. Actors used gestures and masks to act out their parts and changed roles by changing masks. The two masks, the laughing face and the the weeping face, associated with drama represented the division between comedy and tragedy. The masks were the symbols of the Muses named Thalia and Melpomene. Thalia was the Muse of comedy (the laughing face), while Melpomene was the Muse of tragedy (the weeping face). The actors in tragedies wore boots called cothurni that elevated them above the other actors. The actors in comedic roles only wore a thin soled shoe called a sock. Melpomene, as the muse of comedy was associated with the mask of tragedy and the and wearing the cothurni boots.
Facts and pictures of Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy
The following fact file contains pictures of this Greek goddess and Muse and details her symbols and attributes.
Facts, Pictures and Symbols of Melpomene