It was a clear, sunny day on Mount Olympus – as all days are when Zeus is absent. Some of the Muses lounged by their fountain, taking a break from inspiring mortals. Calliope lay on her back on a marble bench, watching a pair of birds fussing around their nest in the rose bush that trailed over the shady arbor.
“I’m so tired. Ever since I inspired Homer to write about the battle of Troy, he’s been working day and night. The man hardly ever eats and barely sleeps.”
She closed her eyes and rested her hands across her abdomen. Gradually, a slow smile crossed her face. “But he’s doing a wonderful job on the higher gods. They’ll be furious when they notice it.”
Melpomene laughed. “Aeschylus is doing the same thing with Agamemnon. What a silly war that was, but such great material for us.”
Polyhymnia leaned out of the arbor and looked up at the sky. It was still blue and the only sound was the twitter of the birds. “You should be more respectful. After all, they are gods.”
“Just because you inspire superstitious mortals to sing their praises doesn’t mean they don’t have faults. But don’t worry, Zeus isn’t here. He’s off wooing some beautiful wood nymph or mortal girl.”
“So predictable," said Clio. "I bet Hera’s mad.”
“She doesn’t know yet, but she will be when she finds out.” Melpomene wandered over to the fountain where Clio and Thalia were dangling their feet in the clear water. “Actually, that would be a great topic for a comedy. Do you have any mortals looking for inspiration?” She nudged Thalia with her bare foot.
“I’m going to be in enough trouble when Zeus gets wind of Aristophanes’ The Birds. He’s got a middle aged Athenian taking Zeus’ place. I’m not interested in too many thunderbolts coming my way.”
Clio laughed. “Hesiod’s not too busy right now. I bet he’d love to write up the history of Zeus and Hera. Thanks for the idea.”
Erato, who had carefully arranged herself and her toga to show off her voluptuous figure, clapped her hands. A bowl of frosted grapes appeared on the bench beside her. She took one between her thumb and finger and brought it to her full lips. “I don’t think Zeus and Hera would be good material for love poems, but Zeus’ conquests…” She chewed the grape slowly, a thoughtful look in her eyes.
Polyhymnia sighed. “You are all pathetic. Writing’s not about avoiding trouble or being funny. We’ve got a responsibility to inspire and teach. Your mortals are incredibly talented and you should make sure they use it for the right things.”
“Silly, Poly. Inspiration’s for joy,” Terpsichore called out from the other end of the fountain. She skipped over to the others and twirled with her arms above her head. “Whatever you all are talking about sounds boring. Have you seen Euterpe? I need her help with a mortal who’s trying to choreograph some difficult music.”
Polyhymnia stood. “She’s playing her flute with Pan in the grove down the hill. I’ll go with you.” She started down the path without looking back. Terpsichore danced after her, each step a graceful leap.
Calliope opened her eyes and watched them go. “Poor Poly. She takes it all so seriously. Of course we’re supposed to inspire greatness, but we can have fun while we do it. Even epic poetry and tragedy don’t have to be all doom and gloom.”
“Her job’s pretty hard. You have to admit our gods aren’t a good source of sacred inspiration.” Clio looked at the sky to make sure Apollo was still in his chariot and Zeus’ thunderbolts were still silent. “Maybe it’s time to turn to the Creator God.”
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