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Music and the MusesThe Culture of Mousike in the Classical Athenian City$
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Penelope Murray and Peter Wilson

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199242399

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199242399.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2022

Muses and Mysteries

Muses and Mysteries

(p.11) 1 Muses and Mysteries
Music and the Muses

Alex Hardie

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the role of music in mystery cults. Looking at relationships between the Muses, Orpheus, Dionysus, and initiation rites such as those at Eleusis, it argues that choreia was an essential component in bringing about that contact with the divine which initiands sought. Also significant is the fact that Mnemosyne, mother of the Muses, plays an important part in the eschatology of mystery religions, thus establishing a link between immortality in Muse-inspired poetry and the blessed afterlife promised by initiation. The chapter further argues that mousike in such cults was understood to contain cosmic and eschatalogical symbolism through which the harmony of the cosmos could be revealed. Hence, poetic claims to divine wisdom inspired by the Muses should not be regarded merely as metaphor: the boundaries between the ‘sacral’ and the ‘literary’ were less clear-cut than is commonly supposed.

Keywords:   Muses, Orpheus, Dionysus, initiation, choreia, Mnemosyne

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