The constellation Taurus is one
of great antiquity containing two star clusters: the
Pleiades and the Hyades, which are referred to in the Old
The principal star of the Hyades, Aldebaran,
is mentioned by Hesiod and Homer. According to the Greeks,
Zeus was said to disguise himself in
the form of a white bull with golden horns. In this form, he
seduced and abducted the beautiful Europa. He swam away to
Crete with her and is why we only see the animal’s
forequarters in the constellation. It was the bull which
Jupiter raised to the heavens. The Hyades, named after the
seven daughters of Atlas and Aethra, are known as Ambrosia,
Coronis, Eudora, Pasitho, Plexaris, Pytho and Tycho, and
were also transformed into stars by Jupiter, for bewailing
the death of their brother Hyas.
The central stars of the Pleiades were the seven daughters
of Atlas and Pleione, hence half-sisters of the Hyades. They
too were said to have been turned into stars for grieving over
the loss of their sisters, and the suffering of their father.
But another account tells how the sisters met the great hunter
Orion in Boeotia, whose passions were so inflamed at the sight
of them that he pursued them through the woods for five years.
Begging help from the gods, Zeus/Jupiter came to the rescue
after he heard their plea. He translated the lot of them, that
is the sisters, Orion, and his dogs Sirius
into doves. Then, into stars in the sky.
In another account from the Roman's; One day Orion upon
seeing them, became enamored and pursued them. In their
distress they prayed to the gods to change their form.
Zeus/Jupiter, in pity, turned them into pigeons, then made them
a constellation in the sky. Though there were seven of
them, only six stars are visible. The sister they referred to
as Electra is said to have left her place so that she would not
witness the destruction of Troy, as the city of Troy was
founded by her son Dardanus. It is said that the sight of the
destruction had such an effect on her sisters that they have
looked pale ever since.
Yet another version from Homer, in his Odyssey alluded that
one of the doves was lost while pursuing the wandering rocks.
The Planetae, is a reference to the fact that one of the
Pleiades, Merope, is always invisible. In shame, she is hiding
her light for having had intercourse with Sisyphus -- a
In the end, all the Pleiades became ancestresses of heroic
or divine families, called by the Romans: Vergiliae (probably
from ver -- Spring).
As the Pleiades rise in mid-May, they are, as daughters of
Atlas, the bringer of the fertilizing spring rains which come
out of the west; as they set at the end of October, they are,
as the pursued of Orion, the forerunners of the autumn
The Pleiades cluster of stars was especially honored by the
Druids. They held their spring festivals when The Sun was in
Taurus, and they also worshiped the bull.