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A Tale of Two Muses
Gab Xena Dance Muses.jpg
Gabrielle and Xena Dance
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 4
Antagonist Istafan
Setting Melitia
In-Universe Date Year 3
Production # V0603
Original Air-Date 2 November 1998
Written By Gillian Horvath
Directed By Michael Hurst
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 75 of 134
Order in Season 6 of 22
Order in Franchise 189 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "A Good Day"
Next Episode in Series "Locked Up and Tied Down"
Previous Episode in Franchise "Norse By Norsevest"
Next Episode in Franchise "Lyre, Liar"
Title Image
A Tale of Two Muses TITLE.jpg

In this episode, which is basically a spoof of the 1984 movie Footloose [1], Xena, Gabrielle, Autolycus and Tara bring dancing to Melitia a town where it is banned.


Xena and Gabrielle find Tara in a town wanting to help them dance.

Xena and Gabrielle walk along with Argo under the burning sun. Gabrielle reads a scroll, which Xena likes. Gabrielle asks Xena if she has inner feelings, to which Xena holds up her charkram. Xena and Gabrielle arrive in a village and find a teenager is about to be publicly whipped. As they leap to her rescue, Xena and Gabrielle discover that the teenager is Tara, a girl they had encountered in earlier travels. They are shocked to learn that she was being punished for dancing. Xena discovers that many years ago the town once suffered a horrible fire following a dance and now dancing is banned. Through the years, the true reason for the ban was lost and people now believe that the ban is based on the religious decree. Upholding the law is the magistrate, Istafan, a cold and self-righteous man.

Xena and Gabrielle perform a dance

Xena decides to help Tara bring dancing to this town and develop a plan. Meanwhile, Gabrielle realizes that being told she cannot dance has given her a barely controllable urge to dance. Rumors soon spread through town that Philipon the Reformer, an extremely conservative preacher, is coming to town to help save them from impure urges. When the man arrives, Gabrielle is amazed to see that it is Autolycus in disguise. Xena has sent for him and though there is no reward, he quickly agrees to help her when Istafan disputes the legend of the remarkable King of Thieves.

Xena sends for Autolycus

Autolycus, as Philipon, begins preaching even stricter reforms than Istafan. He wants to eliminate singing and painting and believes that the children of the town should start military training to keep them away from sin. Some of the parents become uneasy at this, particularly Telamon, who is Tara's employer and the father of her boyfriend, Andros. Tara and Andros become frustrated by the oppressive atmosphere of the town and run away. Xena confronts Tara and convinces her to return to town and finish the reforms she started.


Back in town, Xena leads the teenagers through a series of drills that she announces will make them better warriors. Istafan and Autolycus look on approvingly, not realizing that the drill is actually a series of dance steps. When Telamon sees the kids practicing military drills and realizes they will be taught to kill, he announces his intention of running for magistrate in the upcoming election. He realizes that the restrictions the town has placed upon itself are inappropriate. Istafan is nervous and tells his right-hand man to set up an assassination.

Xena and Autolycus dance with the town's people after the dancing is now allowed.

During the election speeches, Xena saves Autolycus from being killed by an arrow, but Istafan sites the murder attempt as a need for his stricter government. Ultimately, Xena manages to trick Istafan into admitting he ordered the assassination, as the village's children start dancing in the street. Xena and Autolycus manage to dance while fighting off the soldiers who want to stop the party. Telamon is elected magistrate and the village is renewed.


No Self-Righteous Magistrate's intent on suppressing the basic human right of freedom of expression were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

Background Information[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Joxer was originally in this episode in an early draft of the script.

Key Events[]

  • Xena and Gabrielle and Autolycus establish a modern democracy in this episode, something that Xena achieves several times throughout the series.
  • Final appearance of Tara.


  • In mythology, the Muse of dance was actually Terpsichore. Calliope was the Muse of poetry, famous for being the inspiration for Homer's Odyssey.
  • In the opening scene, where Xena and Gabrielle fight the guards, Xena says to Gabrielle: "You can take over from here", before flipping over a man. When she lands, you can clearly see the ground move, revealing that there is a stunt mat under the sand.
  • You can hear Lucy's native Kiwi accent when she says "danced" in the opening scene.
  • When Xena teaches the children "the art of war", she asks Istafan and the rest of the villagers to leave. She's holding Gabrielle's staff standing vertical, but when the camera cuts to Istafan walking towards Xena, she is holding the staff horizontally.
  • After the opening credits, before Xena and Gabrielle go to sleep, you hear a toilet flushing and Xena closing a zipper. This more likely to be the the director and/or production team trying to be funny than a goof.
  • During the party scene near the end of the episode, when Xena is spun above by Autolycus, one part shows that it is mirrored where her sword in her sheath is on the left side of her shoulder instead of the right side of her shoulder.


  • Autolycus's enthusiasm for the right to dance, as well as his ability to mix dance and combat, might have something to do with his ersatz turn as a dancer the previous year in Men in Pink.

Links and References[]


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