Sing to me, O Muse! : Richard Armitage and InspiRAtion

For those who don’t know, I live in Wisconsin.  In addition to a reputation for cheese and beer, Wisconsin is a state prone to wild swings in weather.  Subzero temperatures and snow falling by the foot in the winter, extreme heat and humidity in the summer.

This never seems to get old to me...

This never seems to get old to me…

Today is one of those “dog days of summer” that makes me remember the icy winds of January fondly – there’s no pleasing some people is there?  To make things even better, the A/C is out in my car, and now the passenger window had decided not to open.  Suffice it to say that today’s fifty minute commute in 90+ degree heat left me feeling more than a little wilted.  I arrived at my office in need of some serious inspiration!

I walked into the office and this is what I see:

Making special note of circled area...

Magnetic wall in my office:  make special note of circled area…

Ahhh,  I’m feeling better already!  I love the 1st birthday cake pic of my daughter and the collage of Greece, but Richard Armitage seems to act as some sort of balm for me from time to time.  Suddenly, I was feeling inspired, so I mapped out another section of Recovery.

When it comes to inspiRAtion for me (and a whole lot of others in the fandom from the looks of it) Richard Armitage certainly functions as a personal Muse.  The Greek Muses were a collection of goddesses who functioned as the personification and “patron” divinities of arts, literature and science.  The earliest references name three, but by the classical period their number was firmly set at nine.  They are most often identified as the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the personification of memory).  The Greeks believed that The Muses epitomized the arts and inspired creativity through their own artistic and literary works.  By the later Hellenistic period, each Muse became associated with a particular genre of creativity and could be identified visually by an emblem or attribute.

muses table

Even earlier than this it became customary for writers to call upon the Muses for inspiration at the beginning of a literary work.  Below are the first lines of three famous poems:

muse quotes

Homer is “writing” very early in the Greek literary tradition, so it is in no way surprising that he does not refer to a particular Muse by name (in this case Calliope, since The Iliad and The Odyssey are epic poems), but simply refers to her as “Goddess” or “Muse”.  The Latin poet Vergil, writing in the 1st century BC, would have been well aware that Calliope was the Muse specific to epic poetry, but rather than name her, he also simply invokes the “Muse”.  This is almost certainly a deliberate homage to Homer.  Regardless, this tradition of calling upon a Muse for inspiration was one started by the Greeks that is still in use today.

I think it might be rather difficult to associate Richard Armitage with a specific area of inspiration…he seems to inspire many different people in a variety of different ways.  Some are inspired to create original artworks based on him or one of the characters he brought to life, others write stories or poems while still others create fan vids or write and record original songs.  Everytime I think I’ve seen it all, something new emerges.

One thing though seems to be timeless… “Sing to me O Muse, a song of…..SQUEEEE!!”

Look...even the interviewer is doing it!!  Source:

Look…even the interviewer is doing it!!

Given his immense and, seemingly, effortless ability to inspire, perhaps we really should inaugurate a new Muse:

Armitage bumps out Sappho as the 10th Muse... Source:  Wikimedia with a little help from

Armitage bumps out Sappho as the 10th Muse…
Source: Wikimedia with a little help from

29 comments on “Sing to me, O Muse! : Richard Armitage and InspiRAtion

  1. marieastra8 says:

    Armitagos? Love it! Yes he seems to be Muse to many of us. I’m not in the least bit creative – not a writer, artist, sculptor, whatever – so I can’t say he is my Muse. But I appreciate that he inspires so many artists. And he certainly…inspires… Or something. “Sing, o goddess, of the anger of Achilles, son of Peleus…” My favorite epic poem. I have a recording of Derek Jacobi reading The Iliad. Have you heard that? It’s fabulous!!

    • obscura says:

      I just listened to the first line…gives me goosebumps – although, I have to admit, right after that, I could only see him as Claudius…in the BBC series – his voice is so distinctive! If Jacobi gives me goosebumps, I can’t imagine what would happen if I heard RA read it…convulsions? Spontaneous human combustion? 🙂

  2. katie70 says:

    First, “It’s not the heat as it’s the gosh darn humidity” ( from the song 30 Point Buck). Love the picture and yes that sums up today. hard to believe we had 18 inches of snow on May 7/8 and now this. All anyone said in our house was a bit warm out there, I think they are happy to see something other than snow. Normally it would be, it is so hot you could fry an egg, or I can’t take it. Warm again tomorrow, the joys of a Wisconsin summer.

    Twice in one day I have learned something. Richard may not be my muse, but I seem to learn at least something every week. I never knew where the word muse came from. I like how the muse’s name, genre and attribute tie in or how the muse names the other two.

    • obscura says:

      It does seem like there should be at least something between a mountain of snow and life sucking heat…what did we used to call it? Oh, right – SPRING! 🙂

      • katie70 says:

        What spring, we had winter then summer up here in the north. Oh the joys, tell me why I live here again, oh that is right I was born here. I remember when I was younger the older people use to say there was two seasons in Wisconsin, Winter and Road Construction. The other thing is either the heat is running or the AC.

        I have a opps it was May 1/2 that we got 18 inches of snow, still don’t make it any better.

  3. Leigh says:

    My daughter is experiencing a Wisconsin summer for the first time — not a fan. It’s not just the humidity; it’s the bugs! An air conditioner should be being installed this week. 🙂

    I think Richard is an excellent candidate for the tenth muse. He inspires so many of us in so many ways.

    • obscura says:

      OH yes, let’s not forget the state bird – the mosquito! I remember being so perplexed the first time I was in the mountains of Greece as to why there were no screens on windows…ah, no mosquitoes at this altitude. On the other hand, Hello, Santorini? You could use some window screens!

      I agree whole heartedly – I don’t think he comprehends the level of inspiration…eg, that it goes beyond stereotypical ideas of fan infatuation or lust or whatever, but really taps into something else entirely. I have no idea really, but I’m rolling with it 🙂

      • katie70 says:

        Leigh, Son2 spend 9 days the end of June beginning of July in North Dakota with his BF who moved there almost 2 years ago, he never missed the mosquitoes while he was there. He did miss the trees. I can’t see anyone missing mosquitoes at all.

  4. Joanna says:

    Great idea! ..and *cough* what about the emblem ? 😉

  5. cdoart says:

    Do you think there would be peace among the muses for long, if they had RA in their midth? Or would they try to win him over for the one or other of their arts and there soon would be a new division (orcombination) of arts?
    I always thought of the Greek muses (like of the gods) as being a bit, well, un-reliable. I also had the impression that the female muses only were instpiration only for male artists.
    I certainly agree with your choice of muse for the female artists. 😉

    • obscura says:

      All good points…there is a certain sisterhood component that might be “upset” with such an addition…not to mention potential trouble with the boss – Apollo 😉

      Yeah, like all Greek deities, the Muses can be capricious on a good day. I think part of the gender perception has to do with the paucity of female artists in general. The poetess Sappho regularly refers to her relationship with the Muses in her poems, but then, Sappho is a rather special case.

      • Leigh says:

        Richard seems to integrate well with the sisterhood in RL, having good friends who are women. Apollo might be a b***h to work for, but I think even he would see the value of synchronicity and increased productivity as the tenth muse inspired all the others.

        • obscura says:

          Intellectually, I think it could work. Of course my mind wandered to what kind of havoc adding a gorgeous male to a collection of females would cause ;). (This wouldn’t trouble Apollo in the least since he didn’t confine his pursuits to one gender, and he didn’t really care if the object of his affection was interested!)

  6. guylty says:

    Oh Obscura – I love your post, and I send apologies for only commenting now. (I blame Germany.) That noticeboard in your office finds my approval *ggg* – hehe, you know why. As for the muses – thanks for explaining all that. Again, something I only vaguely knew – but had actually wondered about because Armitage has so often been called a muse by the prolific creators in this fandom. Your graphic had me laugh out loud. Armitago – yessss. Definitely.
    As usual, I hone in on the gender-specifics: Interesting, that female half-deities (?) are called upon as muses, in the ancient world, and no men. Art and culture as the realm of women? Or just a little consolation prize?

    • obscura says:

      Thanks! I don’t really know a whole lot about the Muses, but a general observation is that they get tasked with a lot of the “leg work” while Apollo is the boss. Also, they start out as personifications of the various arts…personifications are almost always female in my experience.

      PS…the full version of Ch. 12 is ready and waiting for you when you get home from holiday 😉

  7. Servetus says:

    OK, I was going to object that the beginning of the Iliad has always bothered me (sing me a song of the rage of Achilles) and that I think of the song of the muse as a more pleasant thing … but i hadn’t thought about the other usages you provide. I’m a little more comfortable with those. Armitage usually appears to me as a very positive, beguiling muse and not one who brings rage with him, but maybe i have to think a little more about discomfort.

    Sorry for the v. late comment — you know what’s been going on.

    • obscura says:

      Hmm, I guess I’ve never been bothered by it on that score…I think Homer is using what will become a formula…I mean that the goddess was to inspire the song, meter, poetics, etc. not the topic of the song…ie Achilles’ rage. By the time Homer wrote the Iliad, the story, perhaps the meter and various mnemonic devices had been around for centuries in oral form.

      By and large, the Muses are constructive…they do tend to get piqued when a human tries to outdo them though 🙂

  8. […] Richard Armitage in relation to the classical muses. […]

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