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Pleiădes

Πλειάδες). The seven daughters of Atlas and the Ocean-nymph Pleioné, born on the Arcadian mountain Cyllené, sisters of the Hyades. The eldest and most beautiful, Maia, became the mother of Hermes by Zeus; Electra and Taÿgeté, of Dardanus and Lacedaemon by the same; Alcyoné, of Hyrieus by Poseidon; Celaeno, of Lycus and Nycteus by the same; Steropé or Asteropé, of Oenomaüs by Ares; Meropé (i. e. “the mortal”), of Glaucus by Sisyphus. Out of grief, either for the fate of Atlas or for the death of their sisters, they killed themselves and were placed among the constellations. According to another legend, they were pursued for five years by the giant hunter Orion (q.v.), until Zeus turned the distressed nymphs and their pursuer into neighbouring stars. As the constellation of the seven stars, they made known by their rising (in the middle of May) the approach of harvest, and by their setting (at the end of October) the time for the new sowing. Their rising and setting were also looked upon as the sign of the opening and closing of the sailing season. One of the seven stars is invisible; this was explained to be Meropé, who hid herself out of shame at her marriage with a mortal. The constellation of the Pleiades seems also to have been compared to a flight of doves (πελειάδες). Hence the Pleiades were supposed to be meant in the story told by Homer of the ambrosia brought to Zeus by the doves, one of which is always lost at the Planctae Rocks, but is regularly replaced by a new one ( Od. xii. 62). Among the Romans, the constellation was called Vergiliae, the stars of spring. As being the daughters of Atlas, the name Atlantides is often used of them. See also Hyades.

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