The Invocation of Value

The invocation of the muse signals much more than narrative themes

The invocation of the muse is a structural device common across epic poems. In the Homeric epics this occurs at the very beginning, however the position has been adjusted and spread in varying ways by later poets. The muse is an imaginary divine force, projected from the subroutines of the creative human mind. We "muse" on subjects through our intellect in preparation for creative affect, the muse is essentially the creative spark which can be psychically spoken at and listened to. The abstract concept of the muse is an external projection of human creativity, elucidating thoughts in original pathways while expanding upon and further ingraining older achetypal pathways. This results in a feedback effect out of and back into both individual and shared creative endevours.

The divine muse in epic poetry plays the part of the dream ideal, allowing the poet to establish early the main theme through a basic narrative mechanism while the deeper substructures of the poem’s meaning are alluded to. This establishes both the overt explicit values and covert implicit values1 that the poet must include by necessity of their epoch along with those put forward for reason of personal conviction.

My central argument is that this seemingly innocuous narrative device implies much more than simply the theme of a text. The epic poet, influenced by their personal experiences within their epoch in combination with their own explicit and implicit values, expresses through the muse a value proposition. This both exemplifies the values of their epoch and holds suggestions for creative revaluation. This makes the poem an explicit record in preparation for later affect upon the genealogy of values, the enduring and prominent epic poems having the greatest effect on implicit values thereafter.

These invocations within epic poetry give us an insight into the genealogy of values before and during the cultural dissemination of the epic and suggest the value proposition that propogates itself forward in both explicitly valuing communication (explicit value) and implicitly valuing actions (implicit value). The invocations of the muse serve as markers and harbingers of changing value(s).

My upcoming posts will be overviews of the values extolled and advanced (along with their subsequent consequences) in the Homeric epics, Virgil’s Aeneid, Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost.

The above forms part of the research for a book (Forthcoming Late 2021). A polemic on the topic of ‘free will’, utilizing the unorthodox sources of epic poetry. Subscribe for free essays and updates: