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Mnemosyne (1881), a Pre-Raphaelite interpretation of the goddess by Dante Gabriel Rossetti[1]

Mnemosyne (Greek Mνημοσύνη, pronounced /nɪˈmɒzɪni/ or /nɪˈmɒsəni/) (sometimes confused with Mneme or compared with Memoria) was the personification of memory in Greek mythology. This titaness was the daughter of Gaia and Uranus and the mother of the Muses by Zeus.

In Hesiod's Theogony, kings and poets receive their powers of authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne and their special relationship with the Muses.

Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for nine consecutive nights and thereby created the nine Muses. Mnemosyne also presided over a pool[2] in Hades, counterpart to the river Lethe, according to a series of 4th century BC Greek funerary inscriptions in dactylic hexameter. Dead souls drank from Lethe so they would not remember their past lives when reincarnated. Initiates were encouraged to drink from the river Mnemosyne when they died, instead of Lethe. These inscriptions may have been connected with Orphic poetry (see Zuntz, 1971).

Similarly, those who wished to consult the oracle of Trophonius in Boeotia were made to drink alternately from two springs called "Lethe" and "Mnemosyne". An analogous setup is described in the Myth of Er at the end of Plato's Republic.

References

Notes

  1. ^ Collection of the Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, Rossetti Archive.
  2. ^ Richard Janko, “Forgetfulness in the Golden Tablets of Memory,” Classical Quarterly 34 (1984) 89–100; see article "Totenpass" for the reconstructed devotional which instructs the initiated soul through the landscape of Hades, including the pool of Memory.

See also

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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English

Proper noun

Mnemosyne

  1. (Greek mythology) A Titan, the personification of memory, the daughter of Gaia and Uranus, and the mother of the Muses by Zeus.

Simple English

Mnemosyne is the Titan of memory in Greek mythology. Her parents are Gaia and Uranos. With Zeus her children are the nine Muses.


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