Friday 16 March 2012

Let's Get Terpsichoreal

As a group, the Nine Muses get a lot of words: museum (a shrine to the Muses), mosaic (a work of the Muses), music, bemused (devoted to the Muses); although weirdly they seem to have no etymological connection to the verb muse.

The individual muses tend to get less attention, largely because you'd have to remember which was which. The only one that ever sticks in my mind is Terpsichore, the muse of dance. This is largely because whenever I invite a hapless wallflower to skip the heavy fandango with me, whether at rave or discotheque, I usually phrase it "Would you like to pay homage to Terpsichore?"*

I thought that I was alone in such recondite invitations, until I found this 1960 film in which a very young Oliver Reed propositions a girl by saying:

Say, baby, you feel terpsichorical? Let's go downstairs and fly.

Well, now I know how to phrase it.

Begin then, sisters of the sacred well.

*N.B. This line is unsuccessful, but it is amusing.


  1. New Kid on the Block16 March 2012 at 14:09

    Nice post Mark!

    Say, baby, you feel melpomenical)*? Let's go downstairs and vote for...(place the name of your favorite politician).

    *Melpomene(Μελπομένη)=Muse of tragedy (of course the original meaning of tragedy(τραγωδία) was strictly theatrical/lyrical)

  2. If you felt the urge to do history, would you say you were feeling clioical*?

    * Clio, muse of history

  3. Carmen in San Francisco16 March 2012 at 19:00

    Crikey, watching young-ish Oliver Reed dance has left me near paralyzed. Love this blog.

  4. How 'amusing'. Any link?

  5. The broody, blond male looks like a young Adam Faith..... I now recall 'Terpsichorean Muse' being mentioned in the Monty Python 'cheese' sketch - now it makes more sense.

    Laurie -

  6. It was Adam Faith. Christopher Lee as the strip club owner was brilliant. Oliver Reed stole every scene he was in but the whole film is one of my favourites. So politely, awkwardly sordid and depraved. The use of a body double for Jenny is hilarious as the double is brunette and a different shape entirely.

  7. Do they still call them 'discotheques'? – that was in the 70s/early 80s – probably a bit before your time... Do you really ask a woman "Would you like to pay homage to Terpsichore?"