Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Word of the Day -- Calliope

Calliope is the Greek Muse of heroic poetry or a keyboard musical instrument resembling an organ and consisting of a series of whistles sounded by steam or compressed air.  I've always loved this word, not only because of the images it conjures up, but also because of the sound it makes coming out of your mouth, it has a nice lilt to it.  


With a name literally meaning "beautiful-voiced" (from "kallos," meaning "beauty," and "ops," meaning "voice"), Calliope was the most prominent of the Muses—the nine sister goddesses who in Greek mythology presided over poetry, song, and the arts and sciences. She is represented in art as holding an epic poem in one hand and a trumpet in the other. The musical instrument invented and patented in the 1850s, played by forcing steam or compressed air through a series of whistles, was named after the goddess. Because its sound could be heard for miles around, the calliope was effective in luring patrons to river showboats, circuses, and carnivals, which is why the instrument continues its association with such attractions today.


1 comment:

DesignZombie said...

Wow! There was an awesome celtic band here in the OKC area called "Calliope House" and now knowing the origins of that name makes it so much better. They where one of my favorite local groups and I was sad when they broke up.