"And, then, when he adds this—
And curling vines, around each handle roll'd,we are to understand not two actual separate bases, nor indeed ought we to read ὑποπυθμένες as two words, like Dionysius the Thracian, but we ought to read it as one word, [p. 786] υποπυθμενες, in order to understand it with reference to the Peleiades, that there were four Peleiades on the handles, and two more ὑποπυθμένες, which is equivalent to ὑπὸ τῷ πυθμένι, that is to say, under the pedestal, as if the word were ὑποπυθ- μένιοι. So that the goblet is supported by two Peleiades which lie under the bottom, and in that way there are altogether six Pleiades in all, since that is the number which are seen, though they are said to be seven in number, as Aratus says—
Bear two Peleiades emboss'd in gold:
On two firm bases stood the mighty bowl;
They are indeed declared by mortal manAccordingly, what is seen in the stars the poet has very suitably described among the ornaments made on the occasion. And many fancy that the poet is here referring to Jupiter, when he says—
To be in number seven; yet no more
Than six have e'er been seen by mortal eyes.
Not that a star can e'er have disappear'd
Unnoticed from the pure expanse of heaven
Since we have heard of its existence; but
The number has been stated carelessly,
And therefore they are usually call'd seven.
No bird of air, nor dove of trembling wing,Meaning in reality, that one of the Pleiades was destroyed by the sharpness of the rocks and their smooth edge, and that another is substituted in her place by Jupiter for the sake of keeping the number undiminished. Expressing by the enigmatical figures of speech common to poets, that, though there are only six Pleiades seen, still their real number is not actually diminished; but there are said to be seven in number, and also the names of the seven are distinctly given.
That bears ambrosia to th' ethereal king,
But shuns these rocks. In vain she cuts the skies,
They fearful meet, and crush her as she flies.