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[3] But Meleager in a rage slew the sons of Thestius and gave the skin to Atalanta. However, from grief at the slaughter of her brothers Althaea kindled the brand, and Meleager immediately expired.

But some say that Meleager did not die in that way,1 but that when the sons of Thestius claimed the skin on the ground that Iphiclus had been the first to hit the boar, war broke out between the Curetes and the Calydonians; and when Meleager had sallied out2 and slain some of the sons of Thestius, Althaea cursed him, and he in a rage remained at home; however, when the enemy approached the walls, and the citizens supplicated him to come to the rescue, he yielded reluctantly to his wife and sallied forth, and having killed the rest of the sons of Thestius, he himself fell fighting. After the death of Meleager, Althaea and Cleopatra hanged themselves, and the women who mourned the dead man were turned into birds.3


1 The following account of the death of Meleager is substantially that of Hom. Il. 9.529ff.

2 From Calydon, then besieged by the Curetes.

3 The birds called in Greek meleagrides, guinea-fowl (Numida sp.). See Ant. Lib. 2; Ael., Nat. Anim. iv.42; Ov. Met. 8.533-546; Hyginus, Fab. 174; Pliny, Nat. Hist. x.74, xxxvii.40. Worshippers of Artemis strictly abstained from eating the bird; the reason of the abstention was known to the natives of Leros, one of the SporadesAel., Nat. Anim. iv.42). The birds were kept in the sanctuary of the Maiden (Artemis?) in that island, and were tended by the priests (Athenaeus xiv.71, p. 655 C). It is said that it was Artemis who turned the sisters of Meleager into birds by touching them with a rod, after which she transferred them to the island of LerosAnt. Lib. 2) On the birds see D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Glossary of Greek Birds (Oxford, 1895), pp. 114ff.

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