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Mnemosyne (sometimes confused with Mneme or compared with Memoria) was the personification of memory in Greek mythology. This titaness was the daughter of Gaia and Uranus and the mother of the Muses by Zeus.

In Hesiod's Theogony, kings and poets receive their powers of authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne and their special relationship with the Muses.

Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for nine consecutive nights and thereby created the nine Muses. Mnemosyne also presided over a pool in Hades, counterpart to the river Lethe, according to a series of 4th century BC Greek funerary inscriptions in dactylic hexameter. Dead souls drank from Lethe so they would not remember their past lives when reincarnated. Initiates were encouraged to drink from the river Mnemosyne when they died, instead of Lethe. These inscriptions may have been connected with Orphic poetry (see Zuntz, 1971).

Similarly, those who wished to consult the oracle of Trophonius in Boeotia were made to drink alternately from two springs called "Lethe" and "Mnemosyne". An analogous setup is described in the Myth of Er at the end of Plato's Republic.

Popular culture

In Hercules and Xena the Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus, Mnemosyne is re-imagined as the vicious Titaness of Fire. She also seems to be romantically involved with the Wind Titan.

In the Xena: Warrior Princess episode Forget Me Not (Season 3, Episode 14] the character of Gabrielle goes to the temple of Mnemosyne to try to forget her painful memories. (Throughout the episode it is mispronounced in a fashion that rhymes with limousine.)

In Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, Episode 91 Let there be Light, Hercules visits Mnemosyne in person. This depiction combines elements of the other two depictions in the metaseries. Here, Mnemosyne is depicted as the fiery daughter of Cronos and an enemy of Zeus. Though angry and hostile towards Zeus, and by extension Hercules, Hercules sought her out for her wisdom and counsel.

In Xanadu (film), Mnemosyne is the (unnamed) mother of the Nine Muses, including Kira, the heroine.

In the fifth arc of Sailor Moon (manga) Sailor Mnemosyne and Sailor Lethe are twins being forced to work for Shadow Galactica. When Sailor Lethe attacks Usagi in the River of Oblivion, Sailor Mnemosyne is the one who stops Sailor Lethe from killing her.

Mnemosyne is the name of a computer software project that helps people to memorize facts, such as school exams, as well as builds data on memory research.

In the MMPORG Asheron's Call, green triangular devices called Mnemosynes are used to store large amounts of knowledge/history and are used to pass this information across generations.

In the Oliver Stone, ABC Event Series "Wild Palms" Made for TV Mini Series about a Cyber Cult, "Mnemosyne" was a vision educing blue fluid.


  • "Mnemosyne", a piece for solo bass flute and pre-recorded tape by Brian Ferneyhough

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mnemosyne" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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