You ought to read this message from Clio

Although my title, “Muse of History,” is quite descriptive, it appears that my actual job description is somewhat mysterious to most people.  Please allow me to explain.

I was given my home and my name in the time and place you mortals call “ancient Greece,” although I am older than that, and hardly bound by geography.  But it was the Greeks who first understood the relationship that my eight sisters and I have developed with poets, astronomers, playwrights, lyricists and dancers.  In short, we inspire storytellers.

Sadly, many of you have appeared to have forgotten what that means, and instead think of us as spending all our time dancing around Apollo and thinking up new kinds of, what do you call them, “fine” and “performing” arts.  Not so.  Apollo is our father; he is deeply involved with all manner of human affairs, including the arts but not limited to them.  Although she is usually overlooked, more important is our mother, Mnemosyne, the Titaness who oversees all human powers of memory.  It is she who gives us our special character and duty to help storytellers communicate in many different ways, not merely those constrained by your definitions of “art.”

So my sisters and I are interested in helping people tell what has happened, to both celebrate and mourn the past, to understand it, to live and create with it.  It’s not just for the professionals and the sages; all of you are storytellers; it is part of your human nature (literally) to try and make sense of the present and figure out what’s coming in the future by virtue of what has happened in the past. (Although, sadly, so many of you have very short memories.  But we can help.)

We are not here to help your small attempts to spin pure innovation out of nothingness.  (If that is your goal, please move along now to my cousin Lethe’s blog–she will help you find the stream in Hades, the drinkers of which experience absolute forgetfulness.)  We muses are here to help you find your way, and to help those who come after you.  We tell stories through song, poetry and dance, and seek to understand far-away, seemingly unreachable, events and stars.  That is why I, associated with historians, and my sister Ourania, who loves astronomers, find our place among our artsier sisters.

In time I have come to adopt architecture, which functioned differently (more as a craft than as poetry) in the days of the Greeks who named me (although the later Greeks started to understand buildings differently).  I have adopted this discipline that, in civilized places, honors my mother as they evoke the myths that spring from deep human experience.  While my sisters have very discrete areas of influence, my arena is broad, for everyone who makes something tells a story (or frustrates themselves by denying their natural gifts.).  That is why I always carry a book with me: to record stories that, on the one hand, record what I can see behind me and, on the other, help us find our way in the future.  That is why I especially like this portrait of me by Il Signor Franzoni, for it captures my sense of past and future at the moment of the present (note the clock “wheel” on my car–clever!).

This is a day-by-day project that is intended to take you on a ride with me, surveying the landscape of what has passed in human time.  Whenever and wherever you look back, something happened.  And if a person was making it happen, there is almost always a building involved.  All these things are all your doing, after all–the good, bad, and indifferent–I am here to help fabricate a story into which you should weave your own threads.

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