Merope (Pleiades)

Merope (Pleiades)
L'Etoile Perdue (The Lost Star, 1884) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Merope with her sister Pleiades in the background

In Greek mythology, Merope is one of the seven Pleiades, daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Pleione, their mother, is the daughter of Oceanus and Tethyus and is the protector of sailors.[1] Their transformation into the star cluster known as the Pleiades is the subject of varied myths.


Among the Pleiades

In one story, the Pleiades, along with their half sisters the Hyades, were the virgin companions to Artemis.[citation needed] Artemis was the twin of Apollo and daughter of Leto and Zeus, and a protector of both hunters and wild animals. The Pleiades were nymphs, and along with their half sisters, were called Atlantides, Modonodes, or Nysiades and were the caretakers of the infant Bacchus.[2]

Orion pursued the Pleiades named Maia, Electra, Taygete, Celaeno, Alcyone, Sterope, and Merope after he fell in love with their beauty and grace. Artemis asked Zeus to protect the Pleiades and in turn, Zeus turned them into stars. Artemis was angry because she no longer could see her companions and had her brother, Apollo, send a giant scorpion to chase and kill Orion. Zeus then turned Orion into a constellation to further pursue the Pleiades in the skies.[3]

A dark interstellar cloud ravaged by the passage of Merope, one of the brightest stars in the Pleiades star cluster.

In another legend, the sisters were transformed by Zeus into stars because Orion fell in love with them and relentlessly pursued their affection for 12 years. At first they were turned into doves, but later, along with Orion, into stars so that forever the hunter Orion would pursue them.[1]

In either legend the Pleiades were turned into stars and now, along with their half sisters, the Hyades (who died weeping for their dead brother Hyas), make up the star constellation Taurus.


Merope is the faintest of the stars because she was the only of the Pleiades to have married a mortal. Her sisters had relations with gods and bore them sons, but Merope married Sisyphus and lived on the island Chios. Merope gave birth to Glaukos, Ornytion, and Sinon. The star Merope is often called the “lost Pleiad” because she was at first not seen by astronomers or charted like her sisters. One myth[4] says that she hid her face in shame because she had an affair with a mortal man, another says she went to Hades with her husband, Sisyphus.[5]

Merope in popular culture

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, gave the name Merope Gaunt to the mother of her novels' villain, Voldemort. Like the Pleiad, Merope Gaunt marries a "mortal"—a Muggle, or non-magical human. Like Sisyphus, Merope Gaunt's son attempts to escape Death (vol de mort).[6]


  1. ^ a b The Pleiades in mythology,
  2. ^ Mythology of the Seven Sisters (Pleiads), National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (Arecibo Observatory)
  3. ^ Pleiades, in Greek mythology, InfoPlease
  4. ^ Ovid, Fasti 4.169–178; Robert A. Kaster, Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome (Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 79.
  5. ^ Merope: Definition,
  6. ^ Rowling, JK (2005). "The House of Gaunt". Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. 


External links

Further reading

  • Calame, Claude. Myth and History in Ancient Greece. 1996. Trans. Daniel W. Berman. New Jersey: Princeton University, 2003.
  • Ceci, Lynn. "Watchers of the Pleiades: Ethnoastronomy among Native Cultivators in Northeastern North America." Ethnohistory 25.4 (1978): 301-317. JSTOR. Lib. of University of Arizona. 2 Apr. 2009.
  • Gould, John. “Law, Custom, and Myth: Aspects of the Social Position of Women in Classical Athens.” Myth, Ritual, Memory, and Exchange Essays in Greek Literature and Culture. New York: Oxford University, 2001. 112-157.
  • Interpretations of Greek Mythology. 1987. Comp. Jan Bremmer. London: Routedge, 1990.
  • Kellett, E. E. The Story of Myths. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1927.
  • Kershaw, Stephen P. The Greek Myths Gods, Monsters, Heroes, and the Origins of Storytelling. Brief Guide. New York: Carroll and Graf, 2007.
  • Larson, Jennifer. Greek Nymphs: Myth, Cult, Lore. New York: Oxford University, 2001.
  • Women’s Roles in Ancient Civilizations. Ed. Bella Vivante. Connecticut: Greenwood, 1999.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Merope — (English pronunciation: /ˈmɛrəpiː/; Greek Μερόπη) was originally the name of several, probably unrelated, characters in Greek mythology. The name may refer to: Contents 1 Greek mythology 2 Books and music 3 Plants and animals …   Wikipedia

  • Merope (star) — Merope, 23 Tau Merope is close to Alcyone (map bottom). Observation data Epoch J2000      Equinox J2000 …   Wikipedia

  • Pleiades (astronomie) — Pléiades (astronomie) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Pléiades et M45. Les Pléiades …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pleiades — PLEIĂDES, um, Gr. Πλειάδες, ων, (⇒ Tab. VIII.) 1 §. Namen. Diesen haben sie, nach einigen, von πλέειν, schiffen, weil es nach ihrem Aufgange gut schiffen seyn soll, oder von πολλὰ, viel, weil sie zu vielen Dingen nützlich seyn sollen; oder von… …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • Merope — Mérope Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Dans la mythologie grecque, ce nom peut désigner : Mérope la Pléiade, épouse de Sisyphe, Mérope l’Océanide, mère de Phaéton et des Héliades… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Merope (Pleiade) — Mérope (Pléiade) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Mérope. Dans la mythologie grecque, Mérope, fille d Atlas et de Pléioné, est une des sept Pléiades. Elle épouse Sisyphe, roi de Corinthe, de qui elle a trois enfants : Ornytion, Sinon et… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pleiades (mythologie) — Pléiades (mythologie) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Pléiades. Dans la mythologie grecque, les Pléiades (en grec ancien Πληιόνης / Plêiónês) sont sept sœurs, filles du Titan Atlas et de l Océanide Pléioné, sœurs des Hyades. Elles se… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Merope — MERŎPE, es, Gr. Μερόπη, ης, (⇒ Tab. VIII.) des Atlas und der Pleione Tochter, die den Sisyphus heurathete, und mit ihm den Glaucus zeugete. Apollod. l. I. c. 9. §. 3 & c. 10. §. 1. Sie war eine der Pleiaden, steht aber unter den übrigen kaum zu… …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • Pleïădes [1] — Pleïădes, 1) (Pleïaden), die sieben Töchter des Atlas (daher Atlantides) u. der Pleiŏne, der Tochter des Okeanos; sie waren: a) Alkyone, welche dem Poseidon Hyrieus, Hyperenor u. Äthusa gebar; b) Merope, von Sisyphos Mutter des Glaukos; c) Keläno …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Pleiades — This article is about the star cluster. For other uses, see Pleiades (disambiguation). Pleiades A color composite image of the Pleiades from the Digitized Sky Survey. Credit: NASA/ESA/AURA/Caltech …   Wikipedia

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