previous next

[486] These lines, with the almost identical Od. 5.272-75, where Bootes is named, tell us nearly all that is known about Homeric astronomy (see Miss Clerke Fam. Studies, 39 ff.). Πληϊάδες and Ὑάδες are generally explained ‘the sailing stars’ (as their heliacal rising in May indicates the season when voyages begin to be safe; cf. Hes. Opp. 383Πληϊάδων Ἀλαγενέων ἐπιτελλομενάων ἄρχεσθ᾽ ἀμητοῦ”), and ‘the rainy stars’ of autumn. It is more probable, however, that the latter are the same as the Lat. suculae, ‘the litter of pigs.’ Possibly too the Pleiades are ‘the flight of doves’ (as if “πελειάδες”), fleeing, like the bear, from before the hunter Orion; “ἔστι δ᾽ ἐοικὸς ὀρειᾶν γε Πελειάδων μὴ τηλόθεν Ὀαρίωνα