Muse (relationship)

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The muses of drama pay homage to Goethe.
Chalk drawing by Angelika Kauffmann , 1788
The artist HA Schult with his muse Elke Koska in front of the grand piano in Cologne, 2013

A muse ( Greek Μοῦσα ) is a person who spurs or inspires another person to be creative . Muses, especially women , are often found around artists .

Muses have been named as divine or ingenious sources of inspiration for artists since the time of Greek mythology (kiss of the muse; kissed by the muse). The origin is the ancient idea that ideas (thinking) do not develop by themselves, but are input from gods (or muses ) from outside.

A well-known image Muse is Raphael's representation of Parnassus with Apollo and the Muses, and famous poets, painted from 1509 to 1510, in the stamping (Room of the Segnatura) in the Vatican .


The term goes back to the muses in Greek mythology . In ancient mythology, the muses are spring nymphs - nine sisters who were conceived by the Greek father god Zeus with the spring goddess Mnemosyne (goddess of memory). The muses join Apollo , the god of the fine arts, who directs them and with them pays homage to Zeus on the Greek mountain Helikon .

The (first known) Greek poet Hesiod describes the world of gods and also the muses in his work Theogony .

Modern times

In modern times, people began to be called muses - mostly friends of artists, and occasionally men. Muses inspire through their character , their charisma , their human affection or through an erotic relationship . For women as artists , becoming a muse was often the only way to make a career as an artist .

Some of these muse women, who often achieved fame as respected artists themselves, have gone down in history - for example Anaïs Nin , Mathilde Wesendonck , Youki Foujita-Desnos , Charlotte von Stein , Amanda Lear , Dora Maar , Alma Mahler-Werfel , Marietta di Monaco , Gabriele Münter , Emmy Hennings , Camille Claudel , Gala Éluard Dalí , Jeanne-Claude , Meret Oppenheim , Edie Sedgwick , Lotti Huber and Anita Pallenberg .


  • Peter Braun, Eva Wagner: Kissed by the muse - strong women behind great artists. Ars Vivendi, Cadolzburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86913-096-5 .
  • Juliet Heslewood: Lovers: Artists and their Muses. 40 portraits from Raphael to Man Ray. Reimer, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3496014447 .
  • Francine Prose: The Life of the Muses: From Lou Andreas-Salomé to Yoko Ono. Translated from the English by Brigitte Jakobeit and Susanne Höbel. Verlag Nagel & Kimche AG, Vienna, Munich 2004, ISBN 978-3312003365 .
  • Annette Vezin, Luc Vezin: Muses of the 20th century. Translated from the French by Sabine Herting and Bernadette Ott. Knesebeck, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3896601643 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Muse  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Fig. Parnaso
  2. ^ German translation by O. Schönberger, Stuttgart: Reclam 2002, ISBN 3-15-009763-0
  3. by Christian Dueblin: Bettina Eichin about her life, her understanding of art and her sculptures. November 26, 2010, accessed October 26, 2019 (German).
  4. Francine Prose, Brigitte Jakobeit , Susanne Höbel: The life of the muses. From Lou Andreas-Salomé to Yoko Ono. Nagel & Kimche, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-312-00336-9