Jan 1 Festival of the New Year
The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. The Roman senate, in 153 BC was the first to declare January 1 to be the beginning of the new year. Previous calendars relied on the coming of spring or the start of a new moon.
Jan 22 Festival of the Muses (Greek)
Daughters of Zeus and Titaness Mnemosyne, the goddess of Memory, are the handmaidens of Apollo, the god of sun and light and of the arts and sciences, reason, revelation and agricultural production in peace and prosperity. They are known for the music of their song, which brings joy to any who hear it. Traditionally, the muses were believed to reside on Mt. Helicon, in Boeotia, Greece, and in fact they were the center of a cult there. The muses as we know them today are of relatively recent origin. In their most ancient form they were probably not differentiated, or even named. Initially they were the patronesses of poets and musicians (since poets were also musicians and accompanied themselves on the lyre). Over the centuries they became associated with all of the arts and sciences, which is why the word "museum" is used for a repository of works of art or of scientific collections.
The eighth century BC poet Hesiod provides a list of the muses with specific names for each. Other lists from early times are not consistent with Hesiod's list, but the names he gives the muses have become standard. The association of specific muses with specific arts actually comes from Roman, rather than Greek, times. Each with her own specialty, the nine Muses are:
Calliope (Epic Poetry)
Erato (Love Poetry)
Euterpe (Lyric Poetry)
Melpomene (Tragic Poetry)
Polyhymnia (Sacred Song & Poetry)
Terpsichore (Choral music & Dance)
I call the Muses to my aid
As this sacrifice is made
Prayer to the Muses -Solon -(c. 634 - 560 B.C.E.)
You glorious children of Memory and Olympian Zeus, Muses of Pieria, hear me as I pray. Grant me from the blessed gods prosperity, and from all mankind the possession ever of good repute; and that I may thus be a delight to my friends, and an affliction to my foes, by the first revered, by the others beheld with dread. Wealth I do desire to possess, but to gain it unjustly I have no wish; without fail in after-time comes retribution.
The wealth that the gods give stays with a man firm-planted from bottom-most foundation to summit; whereas that which men pursue through arrogance comes not in orderly wise, but, under constraint of unjust deeds, against her will she follows; and swiftly is ruin mingled therewith. The beginning, as of a fire, arises from little; negligible at first, in its end it is without remedy; the works of men's arrogance have no long life. Zeus watches over the end of all things; and all at once, like a wind, that suddenly scatters the clouds, a wind of spring, that having stirred the deeps of the many-billowed unharvested sea, and razed the fair works of husbandry over the wheat-bearing earth, reaches the abode of the gods, the lofty sky, and makes it bright again to behold; and the sun in his might shines fair over the rich earth, and no longer is any cloud to be seen - such is the retribution of Zeus.
Not over single happenings, like a mortal, does he show himself swift to wrath; yet no man who has a sinful heart escapes his eye for ever; in the end without fail he is brought to light. But one man pays the penalty straightway, another at a later time; and if the offenders themselves escape, and the fate of the gods in its oncoming alight not on them, yet it comes without fail at another time; the innocent pay for those deeds, either the children or the generations that come after.
MORE TO COME
© 2004 Ardriana Cahill
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