Clio – the muse of history

In Greek mythology, Clio (traditionally /ˈklaɪoʊ/, but now more frequently /ˈkliːoʊ/; Greek: Κλειώ), also spelled Kleio, is the muse of history, or in a few mythological accounts, the muse of lyre playing.

Etymology

Clio’s name is etymologically derived from the Greek root κλέω/κλείω (meaning “to recount”, “to make famous” or “to celebrate”). The name’s traditional Latinisation is Clio, but some modern systems such as the American Library Association-Library of Congress system use K to represent the original Greek kappa, and ei to represent the diphthong ει (epsilon iota), thus Kleio.

Depiction

Clio, sometimes referred to as “the Proclaimer”, is often represented with an open parchment scroll, a book, or a set of tablets.

Mythology

Like all the muses, Clio is a daughter of Zeus and the Titaness Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. Along with her sister Muses, she is considered to dwell at either Mount Helicon or Mount Parnassos. Other common locations for the Muses are Pieria in Thessaly, near to Mount Olympus.

She had one son, Hyacinth, with one of several kings, in various myths—with Pierus or with king Oebalus of Sparta, or with king Amyclas, progenitor of the people of Amyclae, dwellers about Sparta. Some sources say she is also the mother of Hymenaios. Other accounts credit her as the mother of Linus, a poet who was buried at Argos, although Linus has a number of differing parents depending upon the account, including several accounts in which he is the son of Clio’s sisters Urania or Calliope.

Legacy

In her capacity as “the proclaimer, glorifier and celebrator of history, great deeds and accomplishments,” Clio is the namesake of various modern brands, including the Clio Awards for excellence in advertising. The Cambridge University History Society is informally referred to as Clio, similarly, the Cleo of Alpha Chi society at Trinity College, Connecticut is named after the muse. Likewise, the undergraduate student outreach group for the Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania is known as the Clio Society. ‘Clio’ also represents history in some coined words in academic usage: cliometrics, cliodynamics.

Clio Bay in Antarctica is named after the muse.

This marble sculpture of Clio, the Greek muse of history, in her clock-wheeled chariot, has long been a popular symbol of the House. This stereoview was likely a souvenir for a tourist visiting the Capitol, where the statue was perched in Statuary Hall. It was carved by Carlo Franzoni in 1819, and she watched over the House through its four decades meeting in the room, and over visitors to the Capitol ever since.

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