The muses of classical antiquity are appearing at the Colosseum in a new show spotlighting the workings of artistic creation .
The exhibition, artfully lit among the arches of the ancient arena, features 40 pieces including statues, Attic vases and frescoes from Pompeii. The star of show is the so-called Thinking Muse, Polyhymnia, the guiding spirit of sacred poetry .
The muse - found at a dig in central Rome in 1920 - is portrayed with her hand to her chin as she meditates on the mysteries of the artistic process .
Many of the statues show giants of ancient writing or philosophy inspired by the muses: Homer, Socrates, Epicurus and Cicero .
The muses were believed to inspire creativity in every field of knowledge, from music to poetry, from philosophy to art. In Greek mythology they are imagined as the beautiful daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory .
The other muses are Calliope (epic poetry), Euterpe (music), Erato (love poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsichore (dancing), Clio (history), Thalia (comedy) and Urania (astronomy) .
The exhibition includes a marble sarcophagus, found at Civita Castellana north of Rome, on which they are all depicted in bas-relief .
Curator Angelo Bottini said the show aimed to illustrate how the muses "were used as artistic inspiration throughout antiquity, giving rise to a canon of excellence that came down to the present day via the Renaissance." The exhibition's programme quotes the Roman historian Tacitus as saying: "All I desire for myself is that the sweet Muses, as Virgil calls them, take me to those sacred places and their founts, far from mundane anxieties, woes and the need to do things unwillingly every day." "Musa pensosa. L'immagine dell'intellettuale nell'antichita'" (The Thinking Muse. The Intellectual in Antiquity) runs until August 20. Organisers hope to top an exhibition at the same venue last year, on ancient mystery rites, which drew 1.5 people .
... I assume there's a typo in that last line.