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Capitol Rotunda Muses

The eight muses have looked down on visitors to the State Capitol Building for over a century.

The Muse of Science: sits beneath a starlit sky with a telescope at her side-a reminder that science depends upon direct observation.

The Muse of Industry: is surrounded by manufacturing symbols, including a hammer and anvil.

The Muse of Law and Government: holds both a scale and a naked sword in her hands, representing the responsibility of law to impartially weigh the truth and to swiftly defend and uphold what is right.

The Muse of Commerce: appears against a backdrop of unfurled sails and ship's rigging. Symbolized by a winged headdress and carrying a staff with serpents, known as a caduceus, she evokes swift Hermes, Zeus's messenger, also regarded as the god of commerce, trade and the market.

The Muse of Education: sits next to a lamp, representing learning, which burns fiercely despite broad daylight. With one hand she steadies a ball which represents open-mindedness and lack of prejudice.

The Muse of Fine Arts And Architecture: is easily understood even by the youngest audience.

The Muse of Philosophy: sits enthroned on a monumental chair, holding a scepter in one hand, a symbol of power and dominion which may represent philosophy's overarching importance as the discipline whose inquiries underlie all knowledge, learning and human experience.

The Muse of Agriculture: relaxes from her work with a shovel still in hand, surrounded by symbols of the seasons and fruits of the harvest.

Source: Michigan History Magazine (January/February 1999)