[uf-discuss] rel="muse" implies romantic relationship?

Benjamin West bewest at gmail.com
Sun Dec 10 16:05:24 PST 2006

> > I was wondering if it is always implied as a romantic relationship, since one could
> > certainly find someone else inspiring without being romantically
> > involved/interested.

I wasn't aware that muse has any connection to "romantic" unless by
"romantic" you mean "of Roman influence" in the same way you might use
"hellenic" to mean "Greek influence."

In fact the etymology of "music" comes from "muse": "music is the art
of the Muses".  At that time "music" connoted a much larger subset of
"the arts" than our understanding of rhythm, harmony, and melody,
along with the other elements of music that we currently define it to
be.  In ancient Greece, "music" could refer to poetry, dance,
recitation, music, instruments, and even certain scientific endeavors
such as math and science.  It was frequently set as equal partners
against athletics.  Education was often divided along these two broad
lines, eg "educated in music and gymnastics" would encompass much of
what we would consider to be education in elementary school, or
perhaps a liberal arts curriculum.


On a side note: music was a highly symbolic term to encompass many
abstract concepts, as opposed to concrete/practical activities such as
gymnastics, or concrete techniques to manipulate the world in which we
live.  (To the extent that it would also include math and philosophy
to some degree.)  What many would currently consider music today would
not have much in common with the music of ancient Greece; heterophony
was the main strategy for organizing voices, along with drone
techniques, and pitch organization would have been so drastically
different (although they, like all known musics, did at least organize
around the octave), that most modern listeners would likely not
recognize it as music.

Suffice to say: "muse" would be apropriate for any categorization of a
relationship characterized by a strong influence transmitted from one
party to another.


PS I /knew/ that music degree would come in handy somehow!

On 12/10/06, Ben Buchanan <microformats at 200ok.com.au> wrote:
> Hi there,
> > Hi everyone, I'm pretty new to the mailing list, so apologies if this
> > has already been covered.
> Not that I've seen, so I guess ditto ;)
> > According to the XFN spec, rel="muse" is a link to someone who inspires
> > you, and is listed as being a "romantic" relationship. I was wondering
> > if it is always implied as a romantic relationship, since one could
> > certainly find someone else inspiring without being romantically
> > involved/interested.
> I tend to agree; certainly a quick dictionary check[1] does not say
> anything about the relationship being romantic in the same sense as
> other XFN classifications.
> Probably the neatest definition is "the goddess or the power regarded
> as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like". The defining
> aspect of the relationship is inspiration.
> I'm not really very well versed in classical mythology (thanks "modern
> history only" high school); but despite the often-romantic
> connotations of a relationship between goddess and mortal I think the
> muse relationship still does not *require* a romantic link. Those with
> more knowledge in the area can correct me if I'm wrong :)
> All that said, the actual definition at http://www.gmpg.org/xfn/11
> still works: "Someone who brings you inspiration." So, it's really
> just that it's a bit misleading to include it in the "romantic"
> category.
> cheers,
> Ben
> [1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/muse
> --
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