Who is the muse in Homer's The Odyssey?

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At the beginning of Homer's The Odyssey, the poet invokes the muse, asking her to tell him of the "ingenious hero" about whom Homer intends to write. This invocation of the muse is a convention of epic poetry in the Greek world. Homer goes on to describe the muse as a "daughter of Jove," and indeed Jove was believed to be the father of nine muses, all of whom held their own sway over different areas of the arts. The muse appealed to in epic poetry is Calliope, also known as the Chief of the Muses. Her voice was said to be so beautiful and harmonious that she came to preside over all eloquence and poetic artistry. In appealing to her in the way he does at the beginning of this poem, then, Homer is expressing a sort of salutary reverence to her and praying, as it were, for her assistance in embodying her eloquence and grace in the story of Odysseus which is to follow.

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The Odyssey begins with an invocation of the Muse, one of the nine daughters of Zeus, who are associated with artistic inspiration.  It's sort of like a prayer in which the poet asks the Muse to either help him tell the story or to grant him divine inspiration so that he can eloquently tell the story of a great hero; sometimes the poet even asks the Muse to speak directly through him.  Each Muse is responsible for a certain area of art -- one is responsible for history, another for music and song, another for love poetry, etc. -- but the Muse one calls when writing an epic poem is Calliope because epic poetry is her sphere.  This invocation, or calling to the Muse, is considered to be a convention of epic poetry because it is typical for the poet to request such assistance at the beginning of epic poems.

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