Betrayed Mother of The Muses
Goddess of memory and language
Mother of the Nine Muses
Exiled in Erebus
As the Titan goddess of memory, language and words, Mnemosyne entertained the court with her songs and tales of legend. She loyally fought alongside her siblings in the Titanomachy but in defeat she threw herself on Zeus' mercy. The idea of imprisonment away from the songs and stories of humanity terrified the Titan.
Knowing of Zeus' fondness for the pleasures of the flesh, Mnemosyne struck a bargain. She promised Zeus nine nights of pleasure for a sentence of exile and not imprisonment. Zeus agreed but discovered Mnemosyne's cunning when he came to her room on the first night. The Titan distracted him by creating songs, poems, dances and plays about Zeus and his mighty deeds. Zeus laughed and cheered as Mnemosyne performed, never noticing the passage of time and the arrival of dawn.
In the morning light Mnemosyne told Zeus she was tired and that he must return the next night. Zeus could not deny it was a night of pleasure and left. He returned the next evening expecting this time to enjoy the flesh, but once more Mnemosyne distracted him with works of art. The Titan entertained Zeus for nine nights until the dawn of the tenth day. Then she gave birth to the nine Muses, formed out of the creativity of Mnemosyne and the power of Zeus' appreciation of her arts.
Zeus honoured his agreement with Mnemosyne and did not imprison her in Tartarus. However, he could not ignore how she had tricked him with her promised nights of pleasure. He took the nine Muses away from Mnemosyne and banished the Titan to the lands of the dead. Mnemosyne now lives in exile in the mountains around Tartarus. Her dwelling is little more than a cave overlooking the source of the River Lethe.
Bitter and grieving, she eagerly became part of Cronus' faction of Titans. She hates Zeus for taking her children, the Muses, and banishing her far from the living and their tales. In the Underworld she has much greater freedom than the Titans in Tartarus but Hades has spies which keep a close watch on her.
Her realms are memory and language and her symbol is the written word. She appears as an attractive young woman with long flowing hair and a simple toga. Once she was someone joyous and relaxed but her exile has left her sad and lost in memories. Her recall is perfect and it can take days for her to escape from her nostalgic reverie, while the grief over her lost children often reduces her to tears.
Unlike the other Titans, who have focused their efforts on the living, Mnemosyne has agents and followers amongst both the living and the dead. Many enter her service seeking lost memories. The living may wish to recall where something precious was lost or a forgotten secret. The dead of Erebus seek memories of loved ones and happy days to distract them from their endless toil. Her agents are blessed with good memories and are often skilful orators, and her cult includes politicians and philosophers in its numbers.
Mnemosyne’s cult works to preserve ancient songs and stories through performance. The tales of the golden age of Cronus attract many who are unhappy with the Olympians, notably amongst the dead of Erebus.