In Greek mythology, Merope (Greek: Μερόπη) is one of the seven Pleiades, daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Pleione, their mother, is the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys and is the protector of sailors. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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, Almus, Thersander 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 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.
In popular culture
Merope is the real name of the time traveler "Eileen O'Reilly" in the novel Blackout by Connie Willis. It is appropriate because she marries a "contemporary" of the era to which she time-travels.
Merope is the name of Tom Riddle's, commonly known as Voldemort, mother in the Harry Potter series. She has an affair with a muggle man against the wishes of her family, and produces one son.
Merope (and the Pleiades cluster) is involved in an ongoing Alien mystery within the game Elite Dangerous, specifically the planet Merope 5c has been strangely targeted by alien Unknown Artifacts.
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