A semimythological personage, to be classed with Olen, Orpheus, and Pamphus. He was regarded as the author of various poetical compositions, especially as connected with the mystic rites of Demeter at Eleusis, over which the legend represented him as presiding in the time of Heracles.1 He was reputed to belong to the family of the Eumolpidae, being the son of Eumolpus and Selene.2 In other variations of the myth he was less definitely called a Thracian. According to other legends he was the son of Orpheus, of whom he was generally considered as the imitator and disciple.3 Others made him the son of Antiphemus, or Antiophemus, and Helen.4
In Aristotle5 a wife Deioce is given him; while in the elegiac poem of Hermesianax of Colophon, quoted by Athenaeus,6 Antiope is mentioned as his wife or mistress. Suidas gives him a son Eumolpus. The Scholiast on Aristophanes mentions an inscription said to have been placed on the tomb of Musaeus at Phalerus. Pausanias7 mentions a tradition that the Mouseion in Peiraeus bore that name from having been the place where Musaeus was buried.
We find the following poetical compositions, accounted as his among the ancients:
- Χρησμοί (Chrēsmoi), Oracles.8 Onomacritus, in the time of the Peisistratidae, made it his business to collect and arrange the oracles that passed under the name of Musaeus, and was banished by Hipparchus for interpolating in the collection oracles of his own making.9
- Ὑποθῆκαια (Hypothēkaia), or precepts, addressed to his son Eumolpus, and extending to the length of 4,000 lines.10
- A hymn to Demeter. This composition is set down by Pausanias11 as the only genuine production of Musaeus extant in his day.
- Ἐξακέσεις νόσων (Exakeseis nosōn).12
- Θεογονία (Theogonia).13
- Τιτανογραφία (Titanographia).14
- Σφαῖρα (Sphaira).15 What this sphaera was, is not clear.
- Παραλύσεις (Paralyseis), Τελεταὶ (Teletai) and Καθαρμοί (Katharmoi).16
Aristotle17 quotes some verses of Musaeus, but without specifying from what work or collection. Some have supposed the Musaeus who is spoken of as the author of the Θεογονία and Σφαῖρα to be a different person from the old bard of that name. But there does not appear to be any evidence to support that view. The poem on the loves of Hero and Leander (De Amore Herois et Leandri) is by a very much later author.
Nothing remains of the poems attributed to Musaeus but the few quotations in Pausanias, Plato, Clemens Alexandrinus, Philostratus, and Aristotle.18
- Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 25.
- Philochorus ap. Scholiast on Aristophanes' The Frogs, 1065; Diogenes Laertius. Vitae philosophorum: Prooemium, 3.
- Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 25; Servius on Virgil's Aeneid vi, 667.
- Scholiast on Sophocles' Oedipus Colonus, 1047; Suidas, s.v. Μουσαῖος.
- On Marvellous Things Heard, p. 711, a.
- xiii, p. 597.
- Description of Greece i, 25.8.
- Aristophanes. The Frogs, 1031; Pausanias. Description of Greece x, 9.11; Herodotus. Histories viii, 96.
- Herodotus. Histories vii, 6; Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 22.7.
- Suidas, l.c.
- Description of Greece i, 22.7.
- Aristophanes. The Frogs, 1031; Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia xxi, 8.21.
- Diogenes Laertius. Vitae philosophorum: Prooemium, 3.
- Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, iii.
- Diogenes Laertius, l.c.
- Scholiast on Aristotle, l.c.; Plato. Republic ii, p. 364, extr.
- Politics viii, 5; History of Animals vi, 6.
- Fabricius. Bibliotheca Graeca. Vol. 1, p. 119.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.