On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my Goddess gave to me…
nine ladies dancing.
Mention dance, and you are apt to be drawn into a terpsichorean discussion of plies and pirouettes, Rumbas and Reels, Twists and Tangos…all in reverence to that goddess of the dance ~
In Greek mythology, Terpsichore is one of the nine Muses – the goddesses considered the source of all knowledge; the inspiration for literature, science, and the arts. The Muses are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne – the goddess of memory. They consisted of Calliope (muse of epic song/poetry), Clio (muse of history), Euterpe (muse of lyrical song/poetry), Melpomene (muse of tragedy), Terpsichore (muse of dance), Erato (muse of erotic/love poetry), Polyhymnia (muse of sacred song), Urania (muse of astronomy), and Thalia (muse of comedy).
Terpsichore is generally depicted as seated with a lyre, thus accompanying the dancers with her music:
She is also sometimes said to be the mother of the Sirens, those “femme fatales” who lured mariners to their deaths with their enchanting song and voice, thus shipwrecking them upon the rocks along the coast of their island home. A Greek epic of the third century B.C. writes of
“The clear-voiced Seirenes (Sirens), Akheloos’ (Achelous’) daughters, used to bewitch with their seductive melodies whatever sailors anchored there. Lovely Terpsikhore (Terpsichore), one of the Mousai (Muses), has borne them to Akheloos, and at one time they had been handmaids to Demeter’s gallant Daughter [Persephone], before she was married, and sung to her in chorus.”
Even in modern days, Terpsichore is still remembered and referenced…
Fred Astaire expresses his desire “to flirt with Terpsichore” as the reason for wanting to learn to dance in the 1936 movie Swing Time, which paired him with one of his best-known partners, Ginger Rogers, in what has been considered their best dance musical. Rita Hayworth played the role of the muse in the 1947 film Down to Earth; and Olivia Newton-John took on the role in the 1980 film Xanadu. Even the “Chairman of the Board” Frank Sinatra pays homage to the goddess of dance in the lyric “what an evening for some Terpsichore” from the song Come Dance With Me.
And on a daily basis, somewhere someone is invoking Terpsichore whenever they make a move on the dance floor.