Perhaps the simplest constellation of the four original Greek constellations is the Hyades. One of the first mentions of the Hyades is found in Works and Days by Homer, as a seasonal signal to farmers. Farmers were told “... when the... Hyades... begin to set... remember to plough...” (Hesiod 612-613). The myth is that the Hyades are believed to be the daughters of the Titan Atlas and the Oceanid Aethra and the sisters of the Pleiades (Britannica School). After nursing the god Dionysus as a baby, they were rewarded though immortality in the stars (Britannica School). Meaning “the rainers”, the Hyades rose in October and set in April, which is also the rainy season in Greece (Britannica School). Another version of the myth says that they were so upset over losing their brother, Hyas, that Zeus placed them in the stars out of compassion (Britannica School). Either way, the Hyades are a simple, yet popular myth that has been in existence for centuries.
Visible in a similar arrangement in the sky as the Hyades, the Pleiades developed a myth that was fundamentally similar to that of the Hyades, yet uniquely expanded to incorporate several other constellations in the overall myth. The Pleiades, like the Hyades, were mentioned in both Homer and Hesiod. “When the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, are rising” Hesiod tells farmers to “begin [their] harvest, and [their] ploughing when they are going to set,” (Hesiod 383-384). This constellation was held in high honor because “the rising of their sign signals summer, while its setting signals winter,” (Condos 1865). According to the myth, “Pleione was travelling though Boeotia with her daughters when Orion was aroused and wanted to posses her, but she fled. Orion chased after her for seven ye...
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Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. Garden City, NY: Anchor/Doubleday, 1961. Print.
Krupp, E. C. "About the Book." Beyond the Blue Horizon: Myths and Legends of the Sun, Moon,
Stars, and Planets. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1991. 1-11. Print.
Krupp, Edwin C. "Night Gallery: The Function, Origin, and Evolution of Constellations." Arachaeoastronomy The Journal of Astronomy In Culture XV (2000): 43-63. Print.
Krupp, Edwin C. Phone Interview. 2 Apr. 2014.
Thompson, Gary D. "Essays Relating To The History Of." Greek Constellations and Constellation Myths. N.p., 16 Sept. 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
"Works and Days." Hesiod's , Translated by Evelyn-White. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.
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