Friday 12 January 2024

A Mnemonic Poem on the Seven Muses

Guarino Veronese (1374-1460)
Guarini carmina de Musis

Esse Iovis natas cecinere poemata Musas,
Nanque hominum rebus dextras deus obtulit artes.
Instruit historiis mortales vivere Clio.
Tempora plantandi docuit legesque Thalia.
Euterpe monstrat quas fundat tibia voces.
Melpomene exponit varios distinguere cantus.
Terpsichore oblectat dehinc lumina nostra choreis.
Conubiis Erato gratos moderatur amores.
Ostendit sulcos segetesque Polymnia vitae.
Urania polos docet et portenta polorum.
Calliope vates ornat vocesque serenat.

The poems they sang were Muses, Jupiter’s daughters,
For the god offered skilled arts for the affairs of men.
teaches mortals to live on in histories.
Thalia taught the seasons and rules for planting.
Euterpe teaches the flute which notes to utter.
Melpomene explains how to distinguish different songs.
Thereupon, Terpsichore adds cheer to our lives with dances.
Erato guides pleasing loves into marriages.
Polymnia reveals the furrows and fields of life.
Urania shows the heavens and celestial omens.
Calliope honours poets and brightens their voices.
Guarino Veronese, Guarini Veronensis carmina, ed. by Aldo Manetti (Bergamo: Istituto universitario di Bergamo, 1985), pp. 61-62. My translation. Cf, Epistolario di Guarino Veronese, ed. by Remigio Sabbadini (Venince, 1916), II, p. 500.