Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Muse of Poetry (National Gallery of Art)

Calliope (muse of heroic poetry), as sculpted Austin Pajou (c. 1763), in the French Neoclassical style. The name for Calliope comes from the Greek Καλλιόπη (Kalliope, or "beautiful-voiced"), and she is conventionally depicted holding a book or tablet.

In this detail, we see that the sculptor has chosen to show her holding an open book. On these pages are a Latin inscription. The first 3 lines on the left-hand page read CALLIOPE REGI/NA HOMINVM / DIVVMQVE (Calliope, Queen of Humans and Gods). The "queen" form of address is an allusion to Horace, whose Latin poetry refers to Calliope as regina, or queen (Carminae, III.iv.2). National Gallery of Art, West Wing.

To read more about this sculpture (including a full transcript of the Latin inscription), see here.

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