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Hyades (mythology)

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In Greek mythology, the Hyades (/ˈh.ə.dz/;[1] Ancient Greek: Ὑάδες, romanizedHyádes, popularly "rain-makers"[2] or "the rainy ones"; from ὕω, hýō, 'I fall as rain', but probably from ὗς, hŷs, 'swine'[3]) are a sisterhood of nymphs that bring rain.[4]



The Hyades were daughters of Atlas (by either Pleione or Aethra, one of the Oceanids) and sisters of Hyas in most tellings, although one version gives their parents as Hyas and Boeotia.[5][6][7] The Hyades are sisters to the Pleiades and the Hesperides.



Their number varies from three in the earliest sources to fifteen in the late ones. The names are also variable, according to the mythographer, and include:

Comparative table of Hyades' names, number and family
Relation Name Sources
Hes.[8] Thales Eurip. Dio. Hyg.[7] Theon[8] Serv.[9] Hesych Eust.[10] Unknown
Parentage Atlas and Aethra
Atlas and Pleione
Hyas and Boeotia
Hyas and Aethra
Number 5 2 3 3 5 3 5 1 3 2
Names Phaisyle ('filtered light') or Aesyle not stated not stated
Coronis ('crow')
Cleeia ('famous') or Cleis
Phaeo ('dim')
Eudora ('generous')

Additionally, Thyone and Prodice were supposed to be daughters of Hyas by Aethra, and have been added to the group of stars.[citation needed]



The main myth concerning them is envisioned to account for their collective name and to provide an etiology for their weepy raininess: Hyas was killed in a hunting accident and the Hyades wept from their grief.[11] They were changed into a cluster of stars, the Hyades, set in the head of Taurus.[12]

The Greeks believed that the heliacal rising and setting of the Hyades star cluster were always attended with rain, hence the association of the Hyades (sisters of Hyas) and the Hyades (daughters of ocean) with the constellation of the Hyades (rainy ones).[7][13][14]

The Hyades are also thought to have been the tutors of Dionysus, in some tellings of the latter's infancy,[5] and as such are equated with the Nysiads, the nymphs who are also believed to have cared for Dionysus,[15] as well as with other reputed nurses of the god—the Lamides,[16] the Dodonides[7] and the nymphs of Naxos.[17] Some sources relate that they were subject to aging, but Dionysus, to express his gratitude for having raised him, asked Medea to restore their youth.[18][19][20]

In Tennyson's poem, Ulysses recalls his travels of old:

"I cannot rest from travel: I will drink - Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd - Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those - That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when - Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades - Vext the dim sea ..."

In astronomy


A well-studied star cluster in Taurus and the open cluster nearest Earth is named after the Hyades of Greek mythology.


  1. ^ "Hyades". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  2. ^ Graves, Robert (2017). The Greek Myths - The Complete and Definitive Edition. Penguin Books Limited. p. 107. ISBN 9780241983386.
  3. ^ "Hyades". Online Etymology Dictionary, s.v. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  4. ^ "HYADES - Star Nymphs of Greek Mythology". theoi.com. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  5. ^ a b Hyginus, Fabulae 192
  6. ^ Ovid, Fasti 5.169 ff.
  7. ^ a b c d Hyginus, De Astronomica 2.21
  8. ^ a b Hesiod, Astronomy fr. 2 (in Theon on Aratus, Phaenomena 254)
  9. ^ Servius on Virgil's Georgics 1.138
  10. ^ Eustathius on Homer's Iliad 1156
  11. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 192 & 248
  12. ^ "Taurus' face gleams with seven rays of fire, which Greek sailors call Hyades from their rain-word." (Ovid, Fasti 5.164). In Ancient Greek, "to rain" is hyein.
  13. ^ Hesiod, Works and Days 609 ff
  14. ^ Cicero, De Natura Deorum 2.43.111; he also points out that the Romans wrongly refer to the Hyades as Suculae (Piglets), as though the name Hyades was derived from hys "sow", while it actually derives from hyein "to rain"
  15. ^ Apollodorus, 3.4.3.
  16. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca, 9.28 ff.; in 14.143, the identification is explicit
  17. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 5.52.1; the Naxian nymphs were named Philia, Coronis and Cleide
  18. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.294
  19. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 182
  20. ^ Suidas, s.v. απεψησάμην