La voce delle Muse nella poesia greca arcaica

Carlo Brillante


Through language, the most common form of communication, we can express messages of very different quality. But language does not permit us to verify the truth of the message itself (this is possible only by other means). Poetry, in archaic Greece, did not depend on political or religious institutions. So, to guarantee the quality of the message, the poet needed to be helped by a supernatural power such as that of the Muse. The Muse is characterized by the great beauty of her voice (Hesiod, Alcman, Pindar), and a complete knowledge of events (Homer, Hesiod, Pindar). As a friend or "minister" of the Muse the poet shares her qualities to a certain extent. The traditional model of poetic inspiration, as we know it from Homer and Hesiod, narrates the beginnings of the personal relationship between the poet and the goddess (a tale we can compare with that of other peoples). The peculiarity of the function played by the Muse in this context can be better appreciated by a comparison with the one she plays in the community of gods (Pindar). In the following centuries, this ancient model about the origins of knowledge and poetry was largely criticized but continued to enjoy a great success in the literary tradition.

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