Melpomene ('she who is melodious') was initially the muse of singing, but later on she became the muse of tragedy and tragic chanting. She is often depicted with a tragic mask and wearing the typical buskin boots worn by Greek tragic actors. In the Mantegna card, the traditional depiction was once again altered.
"Why do you delay, O divine Sophokles, to accept the gifts of Melpomene? Whey do you fix your eyes upon the ground? Since I for one do not know whether it is because you are now collecting your thoughts, or because you are awe-stricken at the presence of the goddess. But be of good heart, good sir, and accept her gifts; for the gifts of the gods are not to be rejected."
(Philostratus the Younger, Imagines 13)