Mythology and Literature: Melpomene

Melpomene was the one of the nine Greek muses, and the Muse of Tragedy. Muses were goddesses of music, song, and dance. She is often portrayed with a tragedy mask and a sword. Melpomene’s name means to celebrate with song. As part of Aristotle’s traditional definition of Tragedy, Aristotle talks about the important of song and music within a tragedy as the the chorus should contribute to the overall play and should link the other factors. So in traditional plays tragedies such as Oedipus Rex, there is a chorus but song and music feature in tragedies since then. In Othello, Desdemona sings a song that reflects and foreshadows her own situation called Willow willow, acting herself like a greek chorus:

Take this for my farewell and latest adieu, 
Write this on my tomb, that in love I was true… 

Melpomene features in the Disney movie Hercules as part of the chorus.

MelpomeneLouvre

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