In Greek mythology, the Pleiades were the daughters of the Titan Atlas and the Oceanid Pleione. There were seven of these sisters, and they are named Alcyone, Celaeno, Electra, Maia, Merope, Sterope, and Taygete. Many of these daughters of Atlas played important roles in myth. Indeed, the Pleiades must have had considerable charms, for several of the most prominent male Olympian gods (including Zeus, Poseidon, and Ares) engaged in affairs with the seven heavenly sisters - and inevitably, these relationships resulted in the birth of children:
Alcyone, Mother of Aethusa
Celaeno, Mother of Lycus
Electra, Mother of Dardanus and Iasion
Maia, Mother of Hermes
Merope, Mother of Glaucus
Sterope, Mother of Oenomaus
Taygete, Mother of Lacedaemon
One of the most memorable myths involving the Pleiades is the story of how these sisters became, quite literally, stars. According to some versions of the tale, all seven sisters committed suicide because they were so saddened by the loss of their siblings, the Hyades. In turn Zeus, the ruler of the Greek gods, immortalized the sisters by placing them in the sky. There these seven stars formed the constellation known thereafter as the Pleiades.
The Greek poet Hesiod mentions the Pleiades several times in his Works and Days. As the Pleiades are primarily summer stars, they feature prominently in the ancient agricultural calendar. Here is a bit of advice from Hesiod:
"And if longing seizes you for sailing the stormy seas,
when the Pleiades flee mighty Orion
and plunge into the misty deep
and all the gusty winds are raging,
then do not keep your ship on the wine-dark sea
but, as I bid you, remember to work the land".
(Hesiod, Works and Days, lines 618-23)
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