AskDefine | Define Mnemosyne

Dictionary Definition

Mnemosyne n : (Greek mythology) the Titaness who was goddess of memory; mother of the Muses

User Contributed Dictionary


Proper noun

  1. A Titan, the personification of memory, the daughter of Gaia and Uranus, and the mother of the Muses by Zeus.

Extensive Definition

Mnemosyne (Greek , or /nɪˈmɒsəni/) (sometimes confused with Mneme or compared with Memoria) was the personification of memory in Greek mythology. This titaness was the daughter of Gaia and Uranus and the mother of the Muses by Zeus.
In Hesiod's Theogony, kings and poets receive their powers of authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne and their special relationship with the Muses.
Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for nine consecutive nights and thereby created the nine Muses. Mnemosyne was also the name for a river in Hades, counterpart to the river Lethe, according to a series of 4th century BC Greek funerary inscriptions in dactylic hexameter. Dead souls drank from Lethe so they would not remember their past lives when reincarnated. Initiates were encouraged to drink from the river Mnemosyne when they died, instead of Lethe. These inscriptions may have been connected with Orphic poetry (see Zuntz, 1971).
Similarly, those who wished to consult the oracle of Trophonius in Boeotia were made to drink alternately from two springs called "Lethe" and "Mnemosyne". An analogous setup is described in the Myth of Er at the end of Plato's Republic.


  • Zuntz, Günther. Persephone. Cambridge, 1971.

See also

External links

Mnemosyne in Asturian: Mnemósine
Mnemosyne in Bosnian: Mnemozina
Mnemosyne in Bulgarian: Мнемозина
Mnemosyne in Catalan: Mnemòsine
Mnemosyne in Czech: Mnémosyné
Mnemosyne in Danish: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in German: Mnemosyne (Mythologie)
Mnemosyne in Modern Greek (1453-): Μνημοσύνη
Mnemosyne in Spanish: Mnemósine
Mnemosyne in Esperanto: Mnemozino
Mnemosyne in Persian: نیمازینی
Mnemosyne in French: Mnémosyne
Mnemosyne in Croatian: Mnemozina
Mnemosyne in Italian: Mnemosine
Mnemosyne in Hebrew: מנימוסינה
Mnemosyne in Latvian: Mnēmosine
Mnemosyne in Luxembourgish: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in Lithuanian: Mnemosinė
Mnemosyne in Hungarian: Mnémoszüné
Mnemosyne in Dutch: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in Japanese: ムネモシュネ
Mnemosyne in Norwegian: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in Polish: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in Portuguese: Mnemosine
Mnemosyne in Romanian: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in Russian: Мнемозина
Mnemosyne in Simple English: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in Slovak: Mnemosyne (mytológia)
Mnemosyne in Serbian: Мнемозина
Mnemosyne in Finnish: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in Swedish: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in Turkish: Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne in Chinese: 莫涅莫绪涅
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