[[caption-width-right:350:The Dream of the Poet, or, the Kiss of the Muse (Paul Cézanne)]]

->''"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy."''
-->-- ''Literature/TheOdyssey''

In Myth/GreekMythology, there is a subset of spirits/goddesses under the guidance of Apollo known as muses. These entities exist to seek out creative people and inspire them to create great works of art. In a sense, this posits that all great works of art are linked to the divine and their creators are merely vessels for which divine forces can channel their energy.

This concept is often invoked by many a real life creator by attributing a real life person special to them as their "personal muse". Usually occurs with a female muse for a male creator, but the inverse (or a combination thereof) is not too uncommon. If said woman is an actress, she'll be cast in the main female role in every one of the director's movies, at least until their relationship breaks down.

Of course, art often mirrors life in this regard, and many fictional artists have muses of their own--sometimes, in fact, literal Muses from classical Greek mythology.

The magazine ''Strange Horizons'' mentions among a [[http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-common.shtml List of stories we've seen too often]] "Creative person meets a muse (either one of the nine classical Muses or a more individual muse) and interacts with them, usually by keeping them captive." Neil Gaiman has [[http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2004/05/happy-mothers-day.asp commented]] in his online journal: "I have a fairly good memory, and don't recall ever reading any captive-muse-for-someone-with-writer's-block stories before I wrote mine." This would make Gaiman's story (detailed below) the TropeCodifier, at least for the supernatural version of the trope.

Not incidentally, the [[Creator/NeilGaiman same]] [[ComicBook/TheSandman story]] provides a [[TropeCodifier codifying example]] of MuseAbuse.

Not to be confused with the British rock band Music/{{Muse}}. Or MuseAbuse, though it often follows. See also ManicPixieDreamGirl. For someone who functions as the opposite and is also the artist's love interest, see LoveMakesYouUncreative. When athletes need inspiration, it is often rallied by [[PomPomgirl pom squads]].
!!Examples of real-life muses:

* Surrealist artist Creator/SalvadorDali ''obsessed'' over his wife, Gala, putting her either abstractly or more recognizably into nearly ''all'' of his paintings.
* Beatrice to Creator/{{Dante}}. Even after her death and he was married to someone else, he still wrote about her. He even went so far to make her the one responsible for the journey through the Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven in his masterpiece, ''Literature/TheDivineComedy''.
* Laura to Petrarch.
* Alma Mahler, to more than one man, most notably Creator/GustavMahler, Walter Gropius, and Franz Werfel. And [[Music/TomLehrer one]] she never met.
* Norwegian poet Creator/HenrikWergeland combined four women in one muse. All four were girls he had pined for in his late teens and early twenties. The name of the muse was Stella. See {{all love is unrequited}}.
* Creator/MonicaVitti to Creator/MichelangeloAntonioni
* Creator/MarleneDietrich to Joseph [[TheVonTropeFamily Von]] Sternberg
* Edie Sedgwick to Creator/AndyWarhol
** See also Music/BobDylan's entry below.
** And don't forget [[Music/VelvetUnderground Lou Reed]] with "All Tomorrow's Parties."
* Creator/DavidFincher to Creator/BradPitt, and vice versa.
* June Miller to Henry Miller and Anais Nin
* Creator/JeanMarais to his lover Creator/JeanCocteau
* Music/{{Eminem}}'s ex-wife Kim Mathers was certainly a muse, but since he wrote about killing her she probably wished she wasn't.
* Anita Pallenberg inspired Music/TheRollingStones songs ''Wild Horses'' and ''You Got Silver'', and ''Angie'' is rumored to be about her though others say it was about Angela Bowie.
** Music/MarianneFaithfull and Marsha Hunt were also Stones muses
** Several of BryanFerry's songs both with Music/RoxyMusic and as a solo artist were about Jerry Hall, including at least one about her leaving him for Mick Jagger.
* Music/NickCave sought much creativity from Anita Lane during his tenure in The Birthday Party and throughout The Bad Seeds.
* Rosanna Arquette inspired the ''Rosanna'' by Toto and ''In Your Eyes'' by Peter Gabriel
* Bob Dylan had several muses, including Edie Sedgwick (about whom he wrote "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Just Like A Woman"), Music/JoanBaez, Suze Rotolo, and Sara Lowndes (about whom he wrote not one but two whole albums, including the incredibly heartfelt and desperate song "Sara", from ''Desire'').
** It should be noted that "Like A Rolling Stone" has been discussed to no end, and to this day there are many likely candidates as to who inspired Dylan to write it.
** Considering the brutal TakeThat which these and "Positively 4th Street" are, some of them also probably would rather not to have been Dylan's muse.
** In her tune, Baez wrote "Diamonds and Rust" about Dylan. She describes him is a bit of a jerk though...
* Music/RoyOrbison's wife Claudette inspired the songs ''Claudette'' and ''Pretty Woman''
* The Suede song ''Animal Lover'' and the Blur album ''13'' were both inspired by Justine Frischman.
* Pattie Boyd was a muse to Music/GeorgeHarrison and Music/EricClapton.
** She was a muse for Clapton while she was ''still married'' to his good friend Harrison. ([[Music/LaylaAndOtherAssortedLoveSongs ''Layla'']])
* Creator/WoodyAllen has had a few, especially Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow and Creator/ScarlettJohansson.
* Gong Li to Creator/ZhangYimou.
* Maggie Cheung to Olivier Assayas.
* Fanny Brawne to Creator/JohnKeats.
* Creator/PedroAlmodovar has Carmen Maura and Creator/PenelopeCruz (putting them together for arguably his best film, ''Film/{{Volver}}''), but there is no romantic involvement whatsoever, seeing as he's gay.
* Frances [=McDormand=] to (her husband) [[Creator/TheCoenBrothers Joel Coen]]
* GenderFlip: Tom [=LeFroy=] to Creator/JaneAusten. He was partially the inspiration for [[PrideAndPrejudice Mr. Darcy]].
* Creator/QuentinTarantino refers to Creator/UmaThurman as his muse, but their relationship is "strictly platonic."
** Maybe these days, but no, not strictly.
* [[Film/ChasingAmy Joey Lauren Adams]] to Creator/KevinSmith.
* Sarah Brightman to Creator/AndrewLloydWebber
* Creator/TimBurton and Lisa Marie...and Creator/HelenaBonhamCarter. And Creator/JohnnyDepp. And Creator/VincentPrice.
* Peter Pears to Benjamin Britten.
* Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith of ''Music/TearsForFears''. Roland, discussing how he and Curt work together to write music, referred to Curt as his. "He's always been my muse."
* Creator/AlfredHitchcock considered Creator/GraceKelly to be his muse.
* Creator/MillaJovovich to Luc Besson until they divorced. Now she is Paul W.S. Anderson's muse in the ''Film/ResidentEvil'' [[MoneyDearBoy series.]]
* The lead singer for The Knack, Doug Fieger, [[http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124397021 fell for a then-17-year-old Sharona Alperin]] and wrote the band's [[OneHitWonder biggest and only hit]] "My Sharona" in her honor. She even graced the single's cover shot.
* Music/{{Rihanna}} to Music/{{Drake}}, who wrote several songs ("Firework", "Take Care" and possibly "Made Man") based on their relationship and frequently collaborate with her.

!! Invocations to Muses
* Homer invokes the Muse (probably Calliope) at the start of both ''Literature/TheIliad'' and ''Literature/TheOdyssey''.
* Creator/{{Virgil}} invokes a muse both at the beginning and middle of ''Literature/TheAeneid''.
* Dante doesn't invoke the muses until the second part of ''Literature/TheDivineComedy'', but at the beginning of ''Paradiso'', the third part, he invokes ''all nine'' '''plus''' Apollo himself.
* Creator/JohnMilton asks for Urania, Muse of astronomy (and thus, knowledge of God's creation) to inspire him at the beginning of ''Literature/ParadiseLost.''
* Alexander Pope refers now and then to a muse in ''Literature/TheRapeOfTheLock,'' which was based on the tussle over the [[FelonyMisdemeanor haircut of his friend Arabella Fermor]].
* Dan Simmons's ''{{Illium}}'' opens with an invocation to the Muse by the narrator, since it's based partially on the ''Iliad''. The invocation starts out by mirroring the opening of the ''Iliad'', but degenerates into a vicious rant against the Muse, who is an actual character in the story and something of a bitch.
* This, after Colin Meloy's over-educated literary fashion, was used at the beginning of Music/TheDecemberists' "The Perfect Crime No. 2," as follows:
-->Sing, muse, of the passion of the pistol\\
Sing, muse, of the warning by the whistle...

!!Examples of muses to fictional artists:
* In Creator/ETAHoffmann's story "The Jesuits' Church in G---", an artist catches a glimpse of a beautiful woman, which he believes to be a vision, and is inspired to paint a luminously spiritual picture of the Virgin Mary, his masterpiece. Unfortunately, before the painting is finished, he discovers the woman again, by chance saving her life, and marries her. Although he thinks she'll be a living muse, her earthly reality destroys his religious exaltation, and he's unable to continue the painting. He drives her away with their newborn child, and at first it seems that he'll now be able to paint again, but the guilt from his cruelty drives him mad.
* Subverted (after a fashion) in ''Literature/ThePictureOfDorianGray'': ''Dorian'' himself is the muse for the painter Basil Hallward, which at once turns the concept of a muse on its head (he's a man!) and doesn't (Basil is gay, and Dorian is [[{{Bishonen}} beautiful]] and [[DepravedBisexual ravenously bi]]).
* In Creator/HermannHesse's ''{{Demian}}'', the main character, Sinclair, finds his muse in a woman passing by. He overcomes his alcohol addiction and miserliness and started to paint, even when he doesn't know her name; he simply dubbed her "Beatrice". In a suitably MindScrew-y fashion, when the painting is finished, it actually resembled...the [[HoYay face of the titular character]], who incidentally has been described as [[{{Bishounen}} the perfect union between masculinity and femininity]].
* In ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', an aspiring writer captures one of the bona fide, Myth/ClassicalMythology Muses. He imprisons her, and while raping her, is gifted with fantastic inspiration, and he soon becomes a renowned, and extremely wealthy, writer. Unfortunately for him, this particular muse is the former lover of The Dreamlord, Morpheus, and when she calls to him for help, he [[AndIMustScream sympathizes with her plight]]. Needless to say, the author is soon 'convinced' to release his captive... and the Dreamlord takes [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor appropriate revenge]].
* ''Film/ShakespeareInLove'', wherein the playwright's titular romance allows him to iron out the wrinkles in his play-in-progress (working title: ''[[Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter]]'').
* Christine to the Phantom in ''ThePhantomOfTheOpera''.
* There's a literal muse in Film/{{Dogma}}, a magical stripper played by Salma Hayek.
** And she will ''not'' be happy if you try to credit her with Film/HomeAlone.
* In Albert Brooks' film ''The Muse'' he gets a real Muse.
* Happens literally in ''Film/{{Xanadu}}'': a struggling artist is inspired by (and falls in love with) an authentic Greek Muse (goddess).
* In ''Film/MrHollandsOpus'', Mr. Holland is inspired by student Rowena and begins writing music again.
* In ''Film/AsGoodAsItGets'', Greg Kinnear's character gets his artistic groove back by drawing Helen Hunt.
* ''WesternAnimation/BarbieAndTheDiamondCastle'' features three muses of music (and one apprentice), although none of them are actually [[ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnything shown inspiring anything]].
* In Creator/KimNewman's TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}-set stories, his vampire heroine Genevieve serves as muse to Detlef Sierck, poet (he writes her a sonnet cycle titled "To My Unchanging Lady"), playwright (he meets her while preparing to stage the story of Literature/{{Drachenfels}}, in which she features), actor, musician, and so on and so forth. Warhammer being a CrapSackWorld, it doesn't work out so well, and she leaves him. Kim Newman being ultimately a rather romantic sort, she comes back in a more recent story, and they get a remarkably happy ending to a story featuring murder, mayhem, political chicanery, and ventriloquism.
* This trope is {{Parodied}} by the Website/{{Twitter}} blog ''Blog/WorstMuse'', which only gives bad advice to writers.
--> "It's not racist! It's EDGY!"
--> "TWIST: What if the robots overcame their programming and TRIED TO OVERTHROW THE HUMANS?"
--> "If it's based on a true story, you don't need to worry about whether it's believable."
* Creator/KimNewman's horror novel ''Literature/BadDreams'' features supernatural beings called The Kind, who feed on humanity's emotions and imaginings; some of them (including the BigBad) are monsters who specialize in evoking and feeding off negative emotions, but there's also one who has established a satisfactory niche for herself as the muse to a succession of artists, inspiring them to heights of creativity and taking a cut of the resulting emotions.
* Does ''not'' happen with the sculptor in ''VideoGame/JakAndDaxter'' - while he does have a muse that apparently inspires him, instead of being a beautiful girl, it's a Franchise/{{Pokemon}}. An ''adorable'' Pokemon.
* Speaking of ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'', there actually ''is'' a a Pokémon based on the artistic muse; the Pokédex entries for the [[VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite Generation V]] mon Meloetta state that many famous songs have been inspired by its[[note]]in spite of a very feminine appearance, it has NoBiologicalSex[[/note]] melodies.
* In ''Theatre/SundayIntheParkWithGeorge,'' Georges' relationship with Dot is like this: but he's also increasingly distant and cold to her, so she eventually leaves him. That doesn't stop him from making her the star of his most famous painting.
* In ''Webcomic/TheDreamer'' issue #11, Beatrice's voice teacher invokes this as the reason why Beatrice is singing particularly well during their session, with a GenderFlip.
* [[VideoGame/AlanWake Barbara Jagger to Thomas Zane]]
* French classical composer Creator/HectorBerlioz was hopelessly, obsessively, in love with Harriet Smithson, a beautiful Irish [[ShakespearianActors Shakespearian actress]] working in French theatre. He wrote the ''Symphonie Fantastique'' to get his feelings for her out of his system. The symphony can be described as five powerful movements of pure stalking, the early nineteenth century's precursor to ''[[Music/ThePolice Every Breath You Take]]''. There is a melancholy Autumn day ending in torrential rain and with a thunderstorm approaching; a stately waltz that begins in a restrained way, but which runs faster and faster and gets out of control; a trial and a death sentence; the March to the Scaffold; and finally [[TheDeadCanDance the wild and darkly gleeful dance of Death]]. Two years later, Berlioz wrote ''Lelio'',the ContestedSequel to the ''Symphonie Fantastique'', about how he managed to overcome his gloom and subsequently regain his inspiration. And how did Mrs. Smithson react to all this? [[spoiler:She married him. [[TheMasochismTango It wasn't a very happy marriage, though]].]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', muses are the most stable theme/RunningJoke. E.g. [[http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2006-12-18 this]] mini-arc and the page after it. [[http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2005-01-05 Or this one.]]
* The writer's muse in ''Animation/FilmFilmFilm'' is rather unreliable in her appearance.
* In ''{{Peanuts}}'', Lucy ''wants'' to be this to Schroeder. And note that she did inspire at least one of his compositions--"The Fussbudget Sonata".
* In ''Manga/FreeSoul'', Keito's creation Angie is this to her.
* Jennie for Eben in ''Film/PortraitOfJennie''
* The premise of ''Series/{{Castle}}'' is mystery novelist Richard Castle shadowing NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett for, [[TheyFightCrime among]] [[{{UST}} other]] [[StarCrossedLovers reasons]], inspiration as she serves as his muse for a series of thrillers starring a main character based on her. Just don't actually ''call'' her a muse:
-->'''Beckett:''' Call me your muse again, I'll break both your legs. 'Kay?
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' had an episode about an energy being who claimed to be a muse that latched onto Jake Sisko, drawing out his creativity while simultaneously draining his mental energy. The same muse claimed to have inspired other artists who produced profound works at the expense of shorter lives.
* In the book ''Literature/SacreBleu'' Bleu is the Muse of Painting and has inspired, among others, Creator/VincentVanGogh, Creator/HenriDeToulouseLautrec, Creator/MichelangeloBuonarroti, Joseph Turner and pretty much the entire Impressionist movement. However her inspiration comes with a price.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''
** In the novel ''Discworld/UnseenAcademicals'', Glenda inspired Mr Nutt to write a love poem (which he then gives to his friend Trev to give to Glenda's friend Juliet). Juliet herself inspires the painting "Beauty Arising from the Pease Pudding Cart Attended by Cherubs Carrying Hot Dogs and Pies" (ItMakesSenseInContext - although even within the story no-one ''without'' context knows what the hell it's supposed to be about.)
** In ''Discworld/SoulMusic'' it's suggested by the Band a couple of times that Susan might be Buddy's Muse. Since his music is coming from Somewhere Else, and she's trying to ''stop'' it, she really isn't.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' MetaFic setting ''Fanfic/ThisTimeRound'', most of the AuthorAvatar characters have a Muse; a supernatural being trained at the Muse Academy who basically acts as a sort of advisor.
* At the core of ''Series/{{Californication}}'' is the dysfunctional relationship between Hank Moody, a writer and barely-functional sex addict and alcoholic, and Karen, the muse behind most of his creative output and the mother of his child. He genuinely loves Karen, but the show is a tragic case of FailureIsTheOnlyOption because he's too self destructive to make things work and he needs the [[WillTheyOrWontThey On Again Off Again]] nature of their relationship [[TrueArtIsAngsty to truly be creative.]]
** The second and sixth seasons explore the idea further through the characters of Lew Ashby and Atticus Fetch, rock stars who have similarly troubled relationships with their muses, and Faith, who is something of a professional muse.
--->'''Atticus''': The woman that you love is out there, and you know you can't have her. How do you even get up in the morning?\\
'''Hank''': The booze is always helpful... and so is the art. Everything I write is either for her or about her. So I'm with her, even when I'm not, in my writing.
* ''Series/{{Grimm}}'': One episode has an artist whose muse, his ex-girlfriend, actually ''is'' a Muse. [[note]]Men fall in love with her easily and become obsessive {{Yandere}}s.[[/note]] A Wesen of the same kind was also said to be the muse of Creator/VincentVanGogh.
* Dr. Watson is supposed to just be Literature/SherlockHolmes's biographer, but the way he writes his stories makes Holmes come off more as his muse than an object of a simple biography.
* In the ''Literature/RainbowMagic'' series, the Magical Craft Fairies make and inspire art.
* In Literature/TheSilverCodex, Hanlowa is the Muse of Horror, who works with Xarissa.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Grojband}}'', Trina Riffin serves as an unwitting one to the band- Corey's inability to come up with lyrics is part of the reason.
* ComicStrip/{{Nero}}: In ''De Ring van Petatje'' Nero starts writing poetry in an insane asylum and is visited by a literal muse with wings and a toga. Though she is a subversion of this trope: an obese bespectacled woman, with nevertheless a good heart.
* In ''WebComic/{{Cheer}}'', the artist Tselsebar's AuthorAvatar is frequently beset by an Anti-Muse, who hits him with a hammer and prevents him from getting the ideas to make new comics. He later does get an actual muse which, despite the Anti-Muse complaining that her job was too easy earlier, has her calling the muse a "hussy" and demanding "her" Tselsebar back.
* In ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'', it turns out [[GreaterScopeVillain Bill Cipher]] posed as a muse to the Author in order to [[spoiler: trick him into building an inter-dimensional portal that would let him and his "hench-maniacs" through to Earth so they could take over our dimension.]]
* In ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series, Sheogorath, the [[OurGodsAreDifferent Daedric Prince]] of [[MadGod Madness]], has creativity and the arts under his domain. According to legend, he gave mortals the gift of music after hearing a woman comment on the beauty of a songbird's song... [[AxeCrazy by killing her and fashioning the first instruments out of her body parts]].
* The titular Irisu of ''VideoGame/IrisuSyndrome'' is [[spoiler:Uuji]]'s muse. He sketched before he met her, but having someone else who appreciated his (extremely morbid) art inspired him to create more- especially more sketches of dead cats, the subject matter she most liked. As you might expect, [[LoveMakesYouCrazy things go wrong]]. [[spoiler:And then- in the True Ending- right again.]] [[AmbiguousSituation Maybe.]]
* In ''LightNovel/CookingWithWildGame'', Asuta becomes Ai Fa's chef as a way of repaying her for saving his life (and funding his initial culinary experiments). Since no one in her village can cook half as well as he can, this arrangement works out well for everybody.
* ''The Sack of Rome'' (1992). The painter played by Franco Nero uses his much younger mistress as his muse. Despite being played by the stunningly beautiful Vittoria Belvedere this causes him some guilt, as she's not as pure and innocent as she looks, and thus not quite an appropriate model for heavenly angels in the religious paintings that he's famous for.
* In ''VideoGame/TheSecretWorld'', the 2013 Halloween story mission "The Death Of Dr Armitage" reveals that horror writer Sam Krieg actually has a muse in the form of the eponymous entity. A HumanoidAbomination that perpetuates his existence through works of fiction, Armitage [[DealWithTheDevil offers artistic inspiration to struggling writers in exchange for a cameo appearance in their stories]]: of course, the "inspiration" actually takes the form of a hideous glimpse of the ''true'' nature of the universe, and it's heavily implied that the good doctor is connected to [[EldritchAbomination the Filth]] in some way, but the inspiration he offers really does work. For good measure, Armitage claims to have served as a muse to Creator/HPLovecraft, hence the character's appearance in ''Literature/TheDunwichHorror.''