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[272] Πληιάδες. Cp. Hesiod, Opp. 619Πληιάδες σθένος ὄβριμον Ὠρίωνος

φεύγουσαι”, with Göttling's note:— ‘magna pars Graecorum cum Boeotis stellarum imagines venationem Orionis ita repraesentare putabant, ut Orion cum Sirio cane “ἄρκτον, πελειάδας” (“πληιάδας”, columbas), “ὑάδας” (suculas), “πτωκάδα” (leporem) cet. persequeretur . . Iones vero plaustri (“ἀμάξης”) imaginem cum bubulco Boote in iisdem siderum sedibus videre sibi videbantur.’ According to this view the Pleiads were regarded as a flock of doves, scared by the hunter Orion (see Hom. Od.12. 65, and note); and to this fancy Aeschylus refers in a Fragment quoted by Athenaeus 491 A, where he describes them, with a characteristic oxymoron, as “ἄπτεροι πελειάδες”. There was a legend that the Pleiads were nymphs in the train of Artemis, pursued by Orion and changed into doves; or seven sisters, whose names and parentage vary in different stories: the most common representing them as children of Atlas by the ocean nymph Pleïone. Hesiod (Opp. 383) therefore calls them “Ἀτλαγγενεῖς”, and, as they were born on Mount Cyllene, Pindar and Simonides give them the epithet “ὄρειαι”, ( Pind. Nem.2. 11). Among this sisterhood are generally reckoned Maia, mother of Hermes by Zeus; Electra, the ancestress of the Dardanids; Taygete, mother by Zeus of Lacedaemon. Then come three, whose names are connected with Boeotian legend, Alcyone, Celaeno, and Sterope. Last of all is Merope, the only mortal sister of the group, wife of Sisyphus and mother of Glaucus. This inferiority of Merope is one expression of the story of the ‘lost Pleiad;’ but other forms of the legend put Electra in place of Merope. The actual group of stars consists of 1 star of the first magnitudePind. Nem., 3 of the 5thPind. Nem., 2 of the 6th, and several smaller stars; but they are ordinarily represented as a cluster of seven, one of them being rarely visible. When the Pleiads rise, in the middle of May, harvest is near; and the Pleiads as the harbingers of promised plenty were, perhaps, regarded as a flight of doves bringing nectar and ambrosia to Zeus. At the time of their setting, towards the end of October, the storms of winter are near, and Orion is visible in the evening sky. At this season of the year that form of the story would be most in vogue which represents them as flying in dismay before the mighty hunter. Hesiod (Opp. 622) seems to prefer the etymology which connects them with “πλεῖν”, as though they marked the seasons when the sailor might put to sea, or when he was safer on shore. Others referred the word to “πλείων”, because the Pleiads are a group of stars, “ὅτι πλείους ὁμοῦ κατὰ συναγωγήν εἰσι” Schol. Il.18. 486.Hyginus, f. 192 ‘quia plures erant Pleiades dictae.’ Cp. Manil. 5. 522 ‘Pleïadum glomerabile sidus.’ The Latin equivalent for the Pleiads was Vergiliae, as marking by their rising the close of spring (ver); unless the right orthography be Virgiliae, from virga, with a possible reference to the term “βότρυς”, by which name this ‘cluster’ of stars was also known in Greece.
Βοώτης is called by “ηεσιοδ Ἀρκτοῦρος”, or ‘bear-watcher.’ He may be said to ‘set late,’ because the brilliancy of his light keeps him long visible after dawn. But Sir G. C. Lewis (Astron. of Ancients, p. 59) suggests that the epithet ‘slow-setting,’ as applied to Boötes, alludes to the fact that his disappearance is a long process, because at the time of setting the constellation is in a somewhat vertical position; whereas his rising is rapid, because his horizontal position brings him speedily int, view. Cp. Catull. (66. 67), where the Coma Berenices says, ‘vertor in occasum tardum dux ante Boöten

qui vix sero alto mergitur Oceano.’

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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 383
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 619
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 622
    • Homer, Iliad, 18.486
    • Homer, Odyssey, 12.65
    • Pindar, Nemean, 2
    • Pindar, Nemean, 3
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