Greek Mythology >> Greek Gods >> Olympian Gods >> Muses >> Erato


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Lovely, Beloved

Portraits of the nine Muses | Greco-Roman mosaic from Cos | Archaeological Museum of Cos
Portraits of the nine Muses, Greco-Roman mosaic from Cos, Archaeological Museum of Cos

ERATO was one of the nine Mousai (Muses), the goddesses of music, song and dance. In the Classical era, when the Mousai were assigned specific literary and artistic spheres, Erato was named Muse of erotic poetry and mime, and represented with a lyre. Her name means "lovely" or "beloved" from the Greek word eratos.



ZEUS & MNEMOSYNE (Hesiod Theogony 75, Apollodorus 1.13, Diodorus Siculus 4.7.1, Orphic Hymn 76)


KLEOPHEME (by Malos) (Isyllus Hymn to Asclepius)


Hesiod, Theogony 75 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"The Mousai (Muses) sang who dwell on Olympos, nine daughters begotten by great Zeus, Kleio (Clio) and Euterpe, Thaleia (Thalia), Melpomene and Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), and Erato and Polymnia (Polyhymnia) and Ourania (Urania) and Kalliope (Calliope)."

Isyllus, Hymn to Asclepius (trans. Frazer, Vol. Apollodorus) (Greek poet C4th or 3rd B.C.) :
"Father Zeus bestowed the hand of the Mousa (Muse) Erato on Malos [eponymous lord of Malea] in holy matrimony (hosioisi gamois.) The pair had a daughter Kleophema (Cleophema), who married Phlegyas, a native of Epidauros (Epidaurus); and Phlegyas had by her a daughter Aigle (Aegle), otherwise known as Koronis (Coronis), whom Phoibos (Phoebus) [Apollon] of the golden bow beheld in the house of her grandfather Malos, and falling in love he got by her a child, Asklepios (Asclepius)."
[N.B. This hymn was engraved on a limestone tablet unearthed at the shrine of Asklepios in Epidauros. According to the inscription the poet consulted the Delphic Oracle for approval before publishing this genealogy of the god Asklepios.]

Plato, Phaedrus 259 (trans. Fowler) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"When they [the grasshoppers] die they go and inform the Mousai (Muses) in heaven who honours them on earth. They win the love of Terpsikhore (Terpsichore) for the dancers by their report of them; of Erato for the lovers."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 13 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Mnemosyne [bore to Zeus] the Mousai (Muses), the eldest of whom was Kalliope (Calliope), followed by Kleio (Clio), Melpomene, Euterpe, Erato, Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), Ourania (Urania), Thaleia (Thalia), and Polymnia."

Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3. 1 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"[The poet invokes the Muse Erato as he begins the tale of the love of Jason and Medea :] Come, Erato, come lovely Mousa (Muse), stand by me and take up the tale. How did Medea's passion help Iason (Jason) to bring back the fleece to Iolkos (Iolcus)."

Strabo, Geography 8. 30. 20 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"And further, the poem entitled Rhadine--of which Stesikhoros (Stesichorus) [poet C7th-6th B.C.] is reputed to be the author--, which begins, ‘Come, thou clear-voiced Mousa (Muse), Erato, begin thy song, voicing to the tune of thy lovely lyre the strain of the children of Samos.’"

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 7. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Hesiod even gives their [the Mousai's (Muses')] names when he writes : ‘Kleio, Euterpe, and Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsikhore and Erato, and Polymnia, Ourania, Kalliope too, of them all the most comely.’
To each of the Mousai (Muses) men assign her special aptitude for one of the branches of the liberal arts, such as poetry, song, pantomimic dancing, the round dance with music, the study of the stars, and the other liberal arts . . . For the name of each Mousa (Muse), they say, men have found a reason appropriate to her: . . . Erato, because she makes those who are instructed by her men who are desired and worthy to be loved."

Orphic Hymn 76 to the Muses (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus . . . Kleio (Clio), and Erato who charms the sight, with thee, Euterpe, ministering delight : Thalia flourishing, Polymnia famed, Melpomene from skill in music named : Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), Ourania (Urania) heavenly bright."

Ovid, Fasti 4. 190 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"I [the poet] have much to ask [of Rhea] ‘Give me, goddess, someone to interview.’ Cybele saw her erudite granddaughters [the Mousai (Muses)] and made them help . . . So Erato--Cytherea's [Aphrodite's] month [April] fell to her, since she is named from tender love."

Propertius, Elegies 3. 3 (trans. Goold) (Roman elegy C1st B.C.) :
"The nine Maidens, each allotted her own realm, busy their tender hands on their separate gifts : . . . another [Erato] with both hands plaits wreaths of roses [i.e. the flower of love]."

Thumbnail Portraits of the Nine Muses

Z20.2 Portraits of the Nine Muses

Greco-Roman Cos Floor Mosaic A.D.

Thumbnail Portraits of the Nine Muses

Z20.3 Portraits of the Nine Muses

Greco-Roman Trier Mosaic C3rd A.D.

Thumbnail Symbols of the Nine Muses

Z20.4 Symbols of the Nine Muses

Greek Elis Floor Mosaic C1st B.C.





A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.