KALLIOPE (Calliope) was the eldest of the Mousai (Muses), the goddesses of music, song and dance. She was also the goddess of eloquence, who bestowed her gift on kings and princes. In the Classical era, when the Muses were assigned specific artistic spheres, Kalliope was named Muse of epic poetry. In this guise she was portrayed holding a tablet and stylus or a scroll. In older art she holds a lyre.
Kalliope was the mother of the bard Orpheus. When her son was dismembered by the Bakkhantes (Bacchantes), she recovered his head and enshrined on the island of Lesbos.
Her name means “beautiful-voiced” from the Greek words kallos and ope.
Here rise to life again, dead poetry!
Let it, O holy Muses, for I am yours,
And here Calliope, strike a higher key,
Accompanying my song with that sweet air
which made the wretched Magpies feel a blow
that turned all hope of pardon to despair
— Dante, “Purgatorio”, Canto I, lines 7 to 12
|Parents||Zeus and Mnemosyne|
|Goddess of||Epic poetry, eloquence|
|Symbols||Lyre, tablet and stylus (pen)|