Calliope was the eldest of the Muses, the goddesses of music, song and dance. She was also the goddess of eloquence, who bestowed her gift on kings and princes.
In the Classical era, when the Muses were assigned specific artistic spheres, Calliope was named Muse of epic poetry. In this guise she was portrayed holding a tablet and stylus or a scroll. In older art she holds a lyre.
Calliope was the mother of the bard Orpheus. When her son was dismembered by the Bacchantes, she recovered his head and enshrined on the island of Lesbos.