The Pleiades

February 1, 2011

Some days are more eventful than others.  A little while ago, as I opened the frosted mailbox in the garden, a long and white envelope with foreign stamps was waiting for me. It contained a dear friend’s letter together with  a copy of this drawing.

“There’s part of the sun in an apple,

There’s part of the moon in a rose,

There’s part of the flaming Pleiades

In every leaf that grows”

by Augustus Bamburger

On the same day but later in the afternoon I enjoyed reading a great blog that another friend, Gerry, had just started posting : “The Gently Used Ideas Store” !

http://todaysprompt.wordpress.com/

This particular post drew my attention to the correspondence between the drawing and Gerry’s theme in this post : mythology. The mention of the Pleiades in the poem was  both strange and welcome.

http://todaysprompt.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/diy-adult-education/

In French, we often use the word “pleiade” to describe a group of renowned persons, like  “a pleiade of artists or writers, etc…”

Gerry’s prompt about mythology made me reflect on who the Pleiades really were.  So, I looked on my bookshelves for a particular book that was just waiting to be read…  Have you ever heard that a book does not exist or live until someone reads it ? It seems so true to me.

I finally found this book, here it is : a “Small  Mythology Dictionary”, very nicely illustrated too.

The Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione,  daughter of Ocean and Tethys. They were Artemis´companions.  One day, as the hunter Orion pursued them and their mother, they implored the gods to save them. They were transformed into doves and then placed in the sky as a constellation. In fact, the Pleiades are only a cluster of six stars in the sky because one of the stars hides itself… Some pretend it is Merope; she was the only one of the seven sisters whose lover was mortal.

The names of the Pleiades were Alcyone, Celaneo, Electre, Maya, Merope, Sterope, Taygete.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiades_%28Greek_mythology%29

http://mythologica.fr/grec/pleiades.htm

In my small mythology dictionary, there was no mention of the Pleiades but a page was dedicated to Atlas, their powerful father,  son of a Titan, one of those gods who ruled  the world before the Olympian gods. Atlas and the Titans were overcome by Zeus and the Olympian gods during a terrible battle. The Pleiades´father was condemned to carry forever the heavens on his shoulders and all the weight of the world.

This is the story of a Winter day that started in a freezing and foggy morning. It ended in the sky, a dark but starry sky where I looked for a constellation of seven sisters pursued by Orion…

Thanks to Gerry and the inspiration I found in her daysprompt 🙂