vendredi 26 septembre 2008

Pleiades 1

The seven sweet Pleiades above.
Owen Meredith's The Wanderer.

The group of sister stars, which mothers love
To show their wondering babes, the gentle Seven.
Bryant's The Constellations.
The Pleiades,
the Narrow Cloudy Train of Female Stars of Manilius, and the Starry Seven, Old Atlas' Children, of Keats' Endymion, have everywhere been among the most noted objects in the history, poetry, and mythology of the heavens; though, as Aratos wrote,
not a mighty space
Holds all, and they themselves are dim to see.
All literature contains frequent allusions to them, and in late years they probably have been more attentively and scientifically studied than any other group.
They generally have been located on the shoulder of the Bull as we have them, but Hyginus, considering the animal figure complete, placed them on the hind quarter; Nicander, Columella, Vitruvius [IX.3.1], and Pliny [II.110], on the tail,
In cauda Tauri septem quas appellavere Vergilias;—
although Pliny also is supposed to have made a distinct constellation of them. Proclus and Geminusº said that they were on the back; and others, on the neck, which Bayard Taylor followed in his Hymn to Taurus, where they
Cluster like golden bees up thy mane.
Eratosthenes, describing them as over the animal, imitated Homer and Hesiod in his Πλειάς; while Aratos, calling them, in the Attic dialect, Πληϊάδης, placed them near the knees of Perseus; thus, as in most of his poem, following Eudoxos, whose sphere, it is said, clearly showed them in that spot. Hipparchos in the main coincided with this, giving them as Πλειάς and Πλειάδες; but Ptolemy used the word in the singular for four of the stars, and did not separate them from Taurus. The Arabians and Jews put them on the rump of Aries; and the Hindu astronomers, on the head of the Bull, where we now see the Hyades.
The Pleiades seem to be among the first stars mentioned in astronomical literature, appearing in Chinese annals of 2357 B.C., Alcyone, the lucida, then being near the vernal equinox, although now 24° north of the celestial equator; and in the Hindu lunar zodiac as the 1st nakshatra, Krittikā,5 Karteek, or Kartiguey, the General of the Celestial Armies, probably long before 1730 B.C., when precession carried the equinoctial point into Aries. Al Bīrūnī, referring to this early position of the equinox in the Pleiades, which he found noticed "in some books of Hermes,"6 wrote:
This statement must have been made about 3000 years and more before Alexander.
And their beginning the astronomical year gave rise to the title "the Great Year of the Pleiades" for the cycle of precession of about 25,900 years.
The Hindus pictured these stars as a Flame typical of Agni, the god of fire and regent of the asterism, and it may have been in allusion to this figuring that the western Hindus held in the Pleiad month Kartik (October-November) their great star-festival Dībalī, the Feast of Lamps, which gave origin to the present Feast of Lanterns of Japan. But they also drew them, and not incorrectly, as a Razor with a short handle, the radical word in their title, kart, signifying "to cut."
The Santals of Bengal called them Sar en; and the Turks, Ulgher.
As a Persian lunar station they were Perv, Perven, Pervis, Parvig, or Parviz, although a popular title was Peren, and a poetical one, Parur. In the Rubáʽís, or Rubáʽiyát, of the poet-astronomer Omar Khayyám, the tent-maker of Naishápúr in 1123, "who stitched the tents of science," they were Parwin, the Parven of that country to‑day; and, similarly, with the Khorasmians and Sogdians, Parvi and Parur; — all these from Peru, the Begetters, as beginning all things, probably with reference to their beginning the year.
In China they were worshiped by girls and young women as the Seven Sisters of Industry, while as the 1st sieu they were Mao, Mau, or Maou, anciently Mol, The Constellation, and Gang, of unknown signification, Alcyone being the determinant.
On the Euphrates, with the Hyades, they seem to have been Mas-tab-ba-gal-gal-la, the Great Twins of the ecliptic, Castor and Pollux being the same in the zodiac.
In the 5th century before Christ Euripides mentioned them with Ἀετος, our Altair, as nocturnal timekeepers; and Sappho, a century previously, marked the middle of the night by their setting. Centuries still earlier Hesiod and Homer brought them into their most beautiful verse; the former calling them [Op. et D. 383] Ἀτλάγενης, Atlas-born. The patriarch Job is thought to refer to them twice in his word Kīmāh, a Cluster, or Heap, which the Hebrew herdsman-prophet Amos, probably contemporary with Hesiod, also used; the prophet's term being translated "the seven stars" in our Authorized Version, but "Pleiades" in the Revised. The similar Babylonian-Assyrian Kimtu, or Kimmatu, signifies a "Family Group," for which the Syrians had Kīmā, quoted in Humboldt's Cosmos as Gemat; this most natural simile is repeated in Seneca's Medea as densos Pleiadum greges. Manilius had Glomerabile Sidus, the Rounded Asterism, equivalent to the Globus Pleiadum of Valerius Flaccus; while Brown translates the Πληϊάδης of Aratos as the Flock of Clusterers.
In Milton's description of the Creation it is said of the sun that
the gray
Dawn and the Pleiades before him danc'd,
Shedding sweet influence,—
the original of these last words being taken by the poet from the Book of Job, xxxviii.31, in the Authorized Version, that some have thought an astrological reference to the Pleiades as influencing the fortunes of mankind, or to their presumed influential position as the early leaders of the Lunar Mansions. The Revised Version, however, renders them "cluster," and the Septuagint by the Greek word for "band," as if uniting the members of the group into a fillet; others translate it as "girdle," a conception of their figure seen in Amr al Ḳais' contribution to the Muʽallaḳāt, translated by Sir William Jones:
It was the hour when the Pleiades appeared in the firmament like the folds of a silken sash variously decked with gems.
Von Herder gave Job's verse as:
Canst thou bind together the brilliant Pleiades?
Beigel as:
Canst thou not arrange together the rosette of diamonds of the Pleiades?
and Hafiz wrote to a friend:
To thy poems Heaven affixes the Pearl Rosette of the Pleiades as a seal of immortality.
An opening rose also was a frequent Eastern simile; while in Sadi's Gulistan, the Rose-garden, we read:
The ground was as if strewn with pieces of enamel, and rows of Pleiades seemed to hang on the branches of the trees;
or, in Graf's translation:
as though the tops of the trees were encircled by the necklace of the Pleiades.
William Roscoe Thayer repeated the Persian thought in his Halid:
slowly the Pleiades
Dropt like dew from bough to bough of the cinnamon trees.
That all these wrote better than they knew is graphically shown by Miss Clerke where, alluding to recent photographs of the cluster by the Messrs. Henry of Paris, she says:
The most curious of these was the threading together of stars by filmy processes. In one case seven aligned stars appeared strung on a nebulous filament "like beads on a rosary." The "rows of stars," so often noticed in the sky, may therefore be concluded to have more than an imaginary existence.
The title, written also Pliades and, in the singular, Plias, has commonly been derived from πλεῖν, "to sail," for the heliacal rising of the group in May marked the opening of navigation to the Greeks, as its setting in the late autumn did the close. But this probably was an afterthought, and a better derivation is from πλεῖος, the Epic form of πλέως, "full," or, in the plural, "many," a very early astronomical treatise by an unknown Christian writer [Rabanus Maurus, de rer. nat. IX.13] having Plyades ā pluralitate. This coincides with the biblical Kīmāh and the Arabic word for them — Al Thurayya. But as Pleione was the mother of the seven sisters, it would seem still more probable that from her name our title originated.
Some of the poets, among them Athenaeus, Hesiod, Pindar, and Simonides, likening the stars to Rock-pigeons flying from the Hunter Orion, wrote the word Πελειάδες, which, although perhaps done partly for metrical reasons, again shows the intimate connection in early legend of this group with a flock of birds. When these had left the earth they were turned into the Pleiad stars. Aeschylus assigned the daughters' pious grief at their father's labor in bearing the world as the cause of their transformation and subsequent transfer to the heavens; but he thought these Peleiades ἄπτεροι, "wingless." Other versions made them the Seven Doves that carried ambrosia to the infant Zeus, one of the flock being crushed when passing between the Symplegades, although the god filled up the number again. This story probably originated in that of the dove which helped Argo through; Homer telling us in the Odyssey that
No bird of air, no dove of swiftest wing,
That bears ambrosia to the ethereal king,
Shuns the dire rocks; in vain she cuts the skies,
The dire rocks meet and crush her as she flies;
and the doves on Nestor's cup described in the Iliad have been supposed to refer to the Pleiades. Yet some have prosaically asserted that this columbine title is merely from the loosing of pigeons in the auspices customary at the opening of navigation. These stories may have given rise to the Sicilians' Seven Dovelets, the Sette Palommielle of the Pentameron.
Another title analogous to the foregoing is Butrum from Isidorus,— Caesius wrongly writing it Brutum, — in the mediaeval Latin for Βότρυς, a Bunch of Grapes, to which the younger Theon likened them. It is a happy simile, although Thompson7 considers it merely another avian association like that seen in the poetical Peleiades and the Alcyone of the lucida. Vergiliae and Sidus Vergiliarum have always been common for the cluster as rising after Ver, the Spring, — the Breeches Bible having this marginal note at its word "Pleiades" in the Book of Job, xxxviii.31:
which starres arise when the sunne is in Taurus which is the spring time and bring flowers.
And these names obtained from the times of the Latin poets to the 18th century, but often erroneously written Virgilia. Pliny, describing the glow-worms, designated them as stellae and likened them to the Pleiades:
Behold here before your very feet are your Vergiliae; of that constellation are they the offspring.
And the much quoted lines in Locksley Hall are similar:
Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.
Bayer cited Signatricia Lumina.
Hesiod called them the Seven Virgins and the Virgin Stars; Vergil, the Eoae Atlantides; Milton, the Seven Atlantic Sisters; and Hesperides, the title for another batch of Atlas' daughters from Hesperis, has been applied to them. Chaucer, in the House of Fame, had Atlantes doughtres sevene; but his "Sterres sevene" refer to the planets. As the Seven Sisters they are familiar to all; and as the Seven Stars they occur in various early Bible versions; in the Sifunsterri of the Anglo-Saxons, though they also wrote Pliade; in the Septistellium vestis institoris, cited by Bayer; and in the modern German Siebengestirn. This numerical title also frequently has been applied to the brightest stars of the Greater Bear, as in early days it was to the "seven planets," — the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Minsheu had the words "Seven Starres" indiscriminately for the Pleiades, Hyades, and Ursa Major, saying, as to the first, "that appear in a cluster about midheaven."
As the group outline is not unlike that of the Dipper in Ursa Major, many think that they much more deserve the name Little Dipper than do the seven stars in Ursa Minor; indeed that name is not uncommon to them. And even in our 6th century, with Hesychios, they were Σάτιλλα, a Chariot, or Wagon, another well-known figure for Ursa Minor.
Ideler mentioned a popular designation by his countrymen, — Schiffahrts Gestirn, the Sailors' Stars, — peculiarly appropriate from the generally supposed derivation of their Greek title and meteorological character of 2000 years ago; but the Tables of some Obscure Wordis of King James I anticipated this in "Seamans Starres — the seaven starres."
The Teutons had Seulainer; the Gaels, Griglean, Grioglachan, and Meanmnach; the Hungarians, who, Grimm says, have originated 280 native names for stars, called the Pleiades Fiastik and Heteveny, — this last in Finland Hetʹe wāʽne; the Lapps of Norway knew them as Niedgierreg; while the same people in Sweden had the strange Suttjenēs Rauko, Fur in Frost, these seven stars covering a servant turned out into the cold by his master. The Finns and Lithuanians likened them to a Sieve with holes in it; and some of the French peasantry to a Mosquito Net, Cousinière, — in the Languedoc tongue Cousigneiros. The Russians called them Baba, the Old Wife; and the Poles, Baby, the Old Wives.
As we have seen the Hyades likened to a Boar Throng, so we find with Hans Egede, the first Norse missionary to Greenland, 1721-34, that this sister group was the Killukturset of that country, Dogs baiting a bear; and similarly in Wales, Y twr tewdws, the Close Pack.
Weigel included them among his heraldic constellations as the Multiplication Table, a coat of arms for the merchants.
Sancho Panza visited them, in his aërial voyage on Clavileño Aligero, as las Siete Cabrillas, the Seven Little Nanny Goats; and la Racchetta, the Battledore, is a familiar and happy simile in Italy; but the astronomers of that country now know them as Plejadi, and those of Germany as Plejaden.
The Rabbis are said to have called them Sukkōth Rᵋnōth, usually translated "the Booths of the Maidens" or "the Tents of the Daughters," and the Standard Dictionary still cites this supposed Hebrew title; but Riccioli reversed it as Filiae Tabernaculi. All this, however, seems to be erroneous, as is well explained in the Speaker's Commentary on the 2d Book of the Kings xvii.30, where the words are shown to be intended for the Babylonian goddess Zarbanit, Zirat-banit, or Zir-pa‑nit, the wife of Bēl Mardūk.
The Alfonsine Tables say that the "Babylonians," by whom were probably meant the astrologers, knew them as Atorage, evidently their word for the manzil Al Thurayya, the Many Little Ones, a diminutive form of Tharwān, Abundance, which Al Bīrūnī assumed to be either from their appearance, or from the plenty produced in the pastures and crops by the attendant rains. We see this title in Bayer's Athoraie; in Chilmead's Atauria quasi Taurinae; and otherwise distorted in every late mediaeval work on astronomy. Riccioli, commenting on these in his Almagestum Novum, wrote Arabicē non Athoraiae vel Atarage sed Altorieh seu Benat Elnasch, hoc est filiae congregationis; the first half of which may be correct enough, but the Benat, etc., singularly confounded the Pleiad stars with those of Ursa Major. In his Astronomia Reformata he cited Athorace and Altorich from Aben Ragel. Turanyā is another form, which Hewitt says is from southern Arabia, where they were likened to a Herd of Camels with the star Capella as the driver.
A special Arabic name for them was Al Najm, the Constellation par excellence, and they may be the Star, or the Star of piercing brightness, referred to by Muḥammād in the 53d and 86th Suras of the Ḳurʼān, and versified from the latter by Sir Edwin Arnold in his Al Hafiz, the Preserver:
By the sky and the night star!
By Al Tārik the white star!
To proclaim dawn near;
Shining clear —
When darkness covers man and beast —
the planet Venus being intended by Al Ṭāriḳ. Grimm cited the similar Syryän Voykodzyun, the Night Star.
They shared the watery character always ascribed to the Hyades, as is shown in Statius' Pliadum nivosum sidus [Silv. I.3.95]; and Valerius Flaccus distinctly uses the word "Pliada" for the showers, as perhaps did Statius in his Pliada movere; while Josephus states, among his very few stellar allusions, that during the investment of Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes, 170 B.C., the besieged suffered from want of water, but were finally relieved "by a large shower of rain which fell at the setting of the Pleiades." In the same way they are intimately connected with traditions of the Flood among so many and widely separated nations, and especially in the Deluge-myth of Chaldaea. Yet with all this well established reputation, we read in the Works and Days:
When with their domes the slow-pac'd snails retreat,
Beneath some foliage, from the burning heat
Of the Pleiades, your tools prepare.
They were a marked object on the Nile, at one time probably called Chu or Chow, and supposed to represent the goddess Nit or Neith, the Shuttle, one of the principal divinities of Lower Egypt, identified by the Greeks with Athene, the Roman Minerva. Hewitt gives another title from that country, Athur-ai, the Stars of Athyr (Hathor), very similar to the Arabic word for them; and Professor Charles Piazzi Smythb suggests that the seven chambers of the Great Pyramid commemorate these seven stars.
Grecian temples were oriented to them, or their lucida; those of Athene on the Acropolis, of different dates, to their correspondingly different positions when rising. These were the temple of 1530 B.C.; the Hecatompedon of 1150 B.C.; and the great Parthenon, finished on the same site 438 B.C. The temple of Bacchus at Athens, 1030 B.C., looked toward their setting, as did the Asclepieion at Epidaurus, 1275 B.C., and the temple at Sunium of 845 B.C. While at some unknown date, perhaps contemporaneous with these Grecian structures,c they were pictured in the New World on the walls of a Palenque temple upon a blue background; and certainly were a well-known object in other parts of Mexico, for Cortez heard there, in 1519, a very ancient tradition of the destruction of the world in some past age at their midnight culmination.
A common figure for these stars, everywhere popular for many centuries, is that of a Hen with her Chickens, — another instance of the constant association of the Pleiades with flocking birds, and here especially appropriate from their compact grouping. Aben Ragel and other Hebrew writers thus mentioned them, sometimes with the Coop that held them, — the Massa Gallinae of the Middle Ages; these also appearing in Arabic folk-lore, and still current among the English peasantry. In modern Greece, as the Hen-coop, they are Πούλια or Πούλεια, not unlike the word of ancient Greece. Miles Coverdale, the translator in 1535 of the first complete English Bible, had as a marginal note to the passage in the Book of Job:
these vii starres, the clock henne with her chickens;
and Riccioli, in his Almagestum Novum:
Germanicē Bruthean: Anglicē Butrio id est gallina fovens pullos.
We see in the foregoing the Butrum of Isidorus, Riccioli's great predecessor in the Church. The German farm laborers call them Gluck Henne; the Russian, Nasēdha, the Sitting Hen; the Danes, Aften Hoehne, the Eve Hen; while in Wallachia they are the Golden Cluck Hen and her five Chicks. In Servia a Girl is added in charge of the brood, probably the star Alcyone, Maia appropriately taking her place as the Mother. The French and Italians designate them, in somewhat the same way, as Pulsiniere, Poussinière, and Gallinelle, the Pullets, Riccioli's Gallinella. Aborigines of Africa and Borneo had similar ideas about them. Pliny's translator Holland called them the Brood-hen star Vergiliae [The Historie of Nature, VI.87] .
Savage tribes knew the Pleiades familiarly, as well as did the people of ancient and modern civilization; and Ellis wrote of the natives of the Society and Tonga Islands, who called these stars Matarii, the Little Eyes:
The two seasons of the year were divided by the Pleiades; the first, Matarii i nia, the Pleiades above, commenced when, in the evening, those stars appeared on the horizon, and continued while, after sunset, they were above. The other season, Matarii i raro, the Pleiadesº Below, began when, at sunset, they ceased to be visible, and continued till, in the evening, they appeared again above the horizon.
Gill gives a similar story from the Hervey group, where the Little Eyes are Matariki, and at one time but a single star, so bright that their god Tane in envy got hold of Aumea, our Aldebaran, and, accompanied by Mere, our Sirius, chased the offender, who took refuge in a stream. Mere, however, drained off the water, and Tane hurled Aumea at the fugitive, breaking him into the six pieces that we now see, whence the native name for the fragments, Tauono, the Six, quoted by Flammarion as Tau, both titles singularly like the Latin Taurus. They were the favorite one of the various avelas, or guides at sea in night voyages from one island to another; and, as opening the year, objects of worship down to 1857, when Christianity prevailed throughout these islands. The Australians thought of them as Young Girls playing to Young Men dancing, — the Belt stars of Orion; some of our Indians, as Dancers; and the Solomon Islanders as Togo ni samu, a Company of Maidens. The Abipones of the Paraguay River country consider them their great Spirit Groaperikie, or Grandfather; and
in the month of May, on the reappearance of the constellation, they welcome their Grandfather back with joyful shouts, as if he had recovered from sickness, with the hymn, "What thanks do we owe thee! And art thou returned at last? Ah! thou hast happily recovered!" and then proceed with their festivities in honor of the Pleiades' reappearance.
Among other South American tribes they were Cajupal, the Six Stars.
The pagan Arabs, according to Hafiz, fixed here the seat of immortality; as did the Berbers, or Kabyles, of northern Africa, and, widely separated from them, the Dyaks of Borneo; all thinking them the central point of the universe, and long anticipating Wright in 1750 and Mädler in 1846, and, perhaps, Lucretius in the century before Christ.
Miss Clerke, in a charming and instructive chapter in her System of the Stars which should be read by every star-lover, tells us that:
With November, the "Pleiad-month," many primitive people began their year; and on the day of the midnight culmination of the Pleiades, November 17, no petition was presented in vain to the ancient Kings of Persia; the same event gave the signal at Busiris for the commencement of the feast of Isis, and regulated less immediately the celebration connected with the fifty‑two-year cycle of the Mexicans. Savage Australian tribes to this day dance in honor of the "Seven Stars," because "they are very good to the black fellows." The Abipones of Brazil regard them with pride as their ancestors. Elsewhere, the origin of fire and the knowledge of rice-culture are traced to them. They are the "hoeing-stars" of South Africa, take the place of a farming-calendar to the Solomon Islanders, and their last visible rising after sunset is, or has been, celebrated with rejoicings all over the southern hemisphere as betokening the "waking-up time" to agricultural activity.
They also were a sign to ancient husbandmen as to the seeding-time; Vergil alluding to this in his 1st Georgic, thus rendered by May:
Some that before the fall oth' Pleiades
Began to sowe, deceaved in the increase,
Have reapt wilde oates for wheate.
And, many centuries before him, Hesiod said [Op. et D. 383 ff.] that their appearance from the sun indicated the approach of harvest, and their setting in autumn the time for the new sowing; while Aristotle wrote that honey was never gathered before their rising. Nearly all classical poets and prose writers made like reference to them.
Mommsen found in their rising, from the 21st of that 25th of the Attic month Θαργηλιών, May-June, the occasion for the prehistoric festival Πλυντήρια, Athene's Clothes-washing, at the beginning of the corn harvest, and the date for the annual election of the Achaeans; while Drach surmised that their midnight culmination in the time of Moses, ten days after the autumnal equinox, may have fixed the day of atonement on the 10th of Tishri. Their rising in November marked the time for worship of deceased friends by many of the original races of the South, — a custom also seen with more civilized peoples, notably among the Parsis and Sabaeans, as also in the Druids' midnight rites of the 1st of November; while a recollection of it is found in the three holy days of our time, All Hallow Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day.
Hippocrates made much of the Pleiades, dividing the year into four seasons, all connected with their positions in relation to the sun; winter beginning with their setting and ending with the spring equinox; spring lasting till their rising; the summer, from their appearing to the rising of Arcturus; and the autumn, till their setting again. And Caesar made their heliacal rising begin the Julian summer, and their cosmical setting the commencement of winter. In classic lore the Pleiades were the heavenly group chosen with the sun by Jove to manifest his power in favor of Atreus by causing them to move from east to west.
Notwithstanding, however, all that we read so favorable to the high regard in which these stars were held, they were considered by the astrologers as portending blindness and accidents to sight, a reputation shared with all other clusters. The Arabs, especially, thought their forty days' disappearance in the sun's rays was the occasion of great harm to mankind, and Muḥammād wrote that "when the star rises all harm rises from the earth." But Hippocrates had differently written in his Epidemics, a thousand years before, of the connection of the Pleiades with the weather, and of their influence on diseases of autumn:
until the season of the Pleiades, and at the approach of winter, many ardent fevers set in;
in autumn, and under the Pleiades, again there died great numbers.
Although the many legends of their origin are chiefly from Mediterranean countries, yet the Teutonic nations have a very singular one associated with our Saviour. It says that once, when passing by a baker's shop, and attracted by the odor of newly baked bread, He asked for a loaf; but being refused by the baker, was secretly supplied by the wife and six daughters standing by. In reward they were placed in the sky as the Seven Stars, while the baker became a cuckoo;8 and so long as he sings in the spring, from Saint Tiburtius' Day, April 14th, to Saint John's Day, June 24th, his wife and daughters are visible. Following this story, the Pleiades are the Gaelic Crannarain, the Baker's Peel, or Shovel, a title shared with Ursa Major.
Another, still homelier, but appropriately feminine, name is hinted at in Holland's translation from the Historia Naturalis, where Pliny treats of "the star Vergiliae":
So evident in the heaven, and easiest to be known of all others, it is called by the name of a garment hanging out at a Broker's shop.
Those who have traced out the origin of the title Petticoat Lane for the well-known London street will recognize what Pliny had in mind.
In various ages their title has been taken for noteworthy groups of seven in philosophy or literature. This we see first in the Philosophical Pleiad of 620 to 550 B.C., otherwise known as the Seven Wise Men of Greece, or the Seven Sages, generally given as Bias, Chilo, Cleobūlus, Epimenides or Periander, Pittacus, Solon, and the astronomer Thales; again in the Alexandrian Literary Pleiad, or the Tragic Pleiades, instituted in the 3d century B.C. by Ptolemy Philadelphus, and composed of the seven contemporary poets, variously given, but often as Apollonius of Rhodes, Callimachus or Philiscus, Homer the Younger of Hierapolis in Caria, Lycophron, Nicander, Theocritus, and our Aratos; in the Literary Pleiad of Charlemagne, himself one of the Seven; in the Great Pléiade of France, of the 16th century, brought together in the reign of Henri III, some say by Ronsard, the "Prince of Poets," others by d'Aurat, or Dorat, the "Modern Pindar," called "Auratus," either in punning allusion to his name or from the brilliancy of his genius, and the "Dark Star," from his silence among his companions; and in the Lesser Pléiade, of inferior lights, in the subsequent reign of Louis XIII. Lastly appear the Pleiades of Connecticut, the popular, perhaps ironical, designation for the seven patriotic poets after our Revolutionary War: Richard Alsop, Joel Barlow, Theodore Dwight, Timothy Dwight, Lemuel Hopkins, David Humphreys, and John Trumbull, — all good men of Yale.
I have not been able to learn when, and by whom, the titles of the seven sisters were applied to the individual stars as we have them; but now they catalogued nine in all, the parents being excluded. These last, however, seem to be a comparatively modern addition, the first mention of them that I find — in Riccioli's Almagestum Novum of 1651 — reading:
Michaël Florentius Langrenius9 illarum exactam figuram observavit, & ad me misit, in qua additae sunt duae Stellae aliis innominatae, quas ipse vocat Atlantem, & Pleionem; nescio an sint illae, quas Vendelinus ait observari tanquam novas, quia modō apparent, modō latent.

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