Weekly Deity: Calliope


Image of the goddess CalliopeCalliope is the Greek goddess of epic poetry and one of the nine Muses.  Her name is pronounced “kha-lie-oh-pee” and in Greek: καλλιοπε.  She is considered to be the Muse of Homer when he wrote the Odyssey and the Iliad.

Attributes

This goddess is typical shown as a young, beautiful woman.  She is fully-clothed in robes.  Often she carries a writing tablet and may be shown with a scroll or book in hand instead.  Sometimes she wears a golden tiara.

Usually the nine Muses are shown together, but one or two are important enough for are prominent enough in various myths that at times they are shown on an individual basis.  Calliope is one of those who may be shown without her sisters because of her prominence in numerous myths.

Mythology

Calliope is the eldest of the nine Muses, and while the Muses are nonuplets (nine siblings at once), they aren’t generally said to look alike.  Her sisters are: Clio, Erato, Urania, Euterpe, Terpsichore, Melpomene, Thalia, and Polyhymnia.  Their parents are said to be Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory.

Calliope is perhaps the most active of the Muses in terms of mythology without her sisters.  She was a lover of Ares and bore him four sons: Biston, Mygdon, Odomantus, and Edonus.  All four grew up to become the founders of Thracian tribes that bore their names.  Later, she bore two more sons, Orpheus and Linus, to either Apollo (more likely) or the Thracian king Oeagrus.  Calliope does eventually marry Oeagrus, but her sons are more likely sons of Apollo given their talents with music.  Linus is known in mythology to be a great musician and he taught Orpheus and Heracles music.  Orpheus learned poetry from his mother and combined what he learned from her with the music he learned from Linus and became a great singer–so great that he moved Hades and Persephone to tears with his song when he went into the realm of Hades to fetch his wife back to the living.

Calliope is also said to mediate an argument over Adonis between Persephone and Aphrodite.  The two goddesses were so taken with Adonis’ beauty that they fought over who would be able to keep him.  So Calliope mediated on Zeus’ behalf and decided that Adonis should spend one-third of the year with each goddess and the remainder of the year in any place he chose.

Light and Dark Sides

The Muses are gentle, wise, and benevolent mistresses of their respective domains, and Calliope is no exception.  She is considered the wisest and most assertive of the Muses.

Calliope would be good to call on for aid in papers or projects, especially those projects that deal with writing, books, or poetry in some form.  Basically any task that requires patience, planning, and time could fall under her purview.  Epic poetry isn’t written in a day, which makes her a goddess of perseverance and patience as well as creativity and imagination.  She is particularly good for authors and musicians to call upon.

On her Dark side, she is perhaps a little too entrenched in her work.  It’s possible that she could be so involved in the project that other tasks get pushed aside to the point of neglect.  This is pure speculation, of course, since there are no myths about her actual work, only her relationships–but it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that this is a possibility.

Overall, Calliope, like her sisters, is a benevolent goddess who is willing to give aid when called upon for help with certain projects.

For more about the Muses as a whole, see my earlier post on the ladies.

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