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The Pleiades

Tales beyond belief

The Pleiades
Discover fascinating information about the beautiful, supernatural nymphs referred to as Pleiades who were believed by the ancient Greeks to be the seven daughters of Atlas and the Oceanid nymph Pleione. The Pleiades were the half-sisters of the Hyades. The seven sisters were transformed by Zeus into seven stars to save them from the pursuit of Orion. The name 'Pleiades' derives from the Greek word 'peleias' meaning pigeons.

Definition of the Pleiades
Who were the Pleiades of Ancient Greek mythology? The meaning and definition of Pleiades are as follows: Definition of Pleiades: The Pleiades were minor goddesses and became the seven celestial nymphs of the stars. The Pleiades were
the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione and the half-sisters of Calypso, Hyas, the Hyades, and the Hesperides. The beautiful nymphs were admired by prominent Olympian gods including Zeus, Poseidon, and Ares and their liaisons produced various children. The names of the Pleiades were Electra, Maia, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Sterope, and Merope.

The Pleiades in Greek Mythology and Legend
The seven sisters called the Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas and
Pleione, served the goddess Artemis and formed part of her retinue. They were born on Mount Cyllene and are sometimes called mountain nymphs, Oreads. These beautiful, minor goddesses needed but to be seen to be passionately loved  but they were very coy. The lustful hunter Orion sought to approach them but they turned and fled. The faster they ran, the faster Orion followed and the Pleiades prayed to Zeus for help. Zeus turned the Pleiads into seven snow-white pigeons who flew into the sky. They then experienced a second transformation. When they reached the sky, the seven pure white pigeons became a constellation, composed of seven bright stars. The Pleiades did not escape from pursuit for long. Orion was also immortalised and placed in the sky as a constellation when he died. The constellation Orion can be seen still chasing the Pleiades across the night sky. The myth of the the Pleiades continues with the events of the Trojan War. When the city of Troy fell into the enemy’s hands, all of the Pleiades turned pale with grief, and one called Merope, who was more impressionable than the rest, withdrew from sight to hide her anguish from the curious eyes of men. This is why only six of the seven stars could usually be seen with the naked eye.

The Pleiades were also called the Atlantides
The Atlantides was another name given to the Pleiades. Legend tells that their father Atlas, was made rightful king of the the island of Atlantis and the "Sea of Atlas" surrounding it (called the Atlantic Ocean in his honor). He was given the mountain of his birth and the surrounding area as part of his kingdom. The daughters, being the daughters of Atlas, were therefore referred to as the Atlantides.

list of the Seven Pleiades in Greek Mythology
The names of the Seven Pleiades were Electra, Maia, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Sterope, and Merope. Each represented and were patrons of different sections of the arts and sciences. Information about the sisters referred to as the Seven Pleiades mentioned in Greek Mythology are detailed in the following list:

  • Electra was the Pleiad who was the mother of Dardanus and Iasion, by Zeus although she was the wife of Corythus. The name Electra means "amber," "shining," and "bright."

  • Maia was the Pleiad "of the lovely black eyes." who was the eldest of the seven Pleiades and the mother of Hermes by Zeus. Maia also raised the infant Arcas, the birth child of Callisto with Zeus. Her name meant "midwife" in Greek.

  • Taygete was the mother of Lacedaemon by Zeus. She was called "Mistress of the animals".

  • Alcyone was the Pleiad who was the mother of Hyrieus, Hyperenor and Aethusa by Poseidon. The brightest star system in the Pleiades

  • Celaeno was the Pleiad who was mother of Lycus and Eurypylus by Poseidon

  • Sterope was the Pleiad who was the mother of Oenomaus by Ares

  • Merope was youngest of the seven Pleiades who married the mortal Sisyphus and bore him several sons.

The Pleiades - Star cluster in the Constellation of Taurus
The high visibility of the open star cluster Pleiades in the night sky has guaranteed it a special place in many cultures. The Pleiades, also called the Seven Sisters, are the best known open star cluster. There are an estimated 1,000 or more stars in the Pleiades star cluster but only six can be seen easily with the naked eye. The Pleiades are best seen during the winter season when they reach their highest point in the sky, between September and November. The names of the Seven Sisters are Alcyone, Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta, Celaeno and Sterope. Along with the Seven Sisters are their mother Pleione.

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