8. Reigning over Calydon, Oeneus was the first who received a vine-plant from Dionysus.1 He married Althaea, daughter of Thestius, and begat Toxeus, whom he slew with his own hand because he leaped over the ditch.2 And besides Toxeus he had Thyreus and Clymenus, and a daughter Gorge, whom Andraemon married, and another daughter Deianira, who is said to have been begotten on Althaea by Dionysus. This Deianira drove a chariot and practised the art of war, and Hercules wrestled for her hand with Achelous.3  Althaea had also a son Meleager,4 by Oeneus, though they say that he was begotten by Ares. It is said that, when he was seven days old, the Fates came and declared that Meleager should die when the brand burning on the hearth was burnt out. On hearing that, Althaea snatched up the brand and deposited it in a chest.5 Meleager grew up to be an invulnerable and gallant man, but came by his end in the following way. In sacrificing the first fruits of the annual crops of the country to all the gods Oeneus forgot Artemis alone. But she in her wrath sent a boar of extraordinary size and strength, which prevented the land from being sown and destroyed the cattle and the people that fell in with it. To attack this boar Oeneus called together all the noblest men of Greece, and promised that to him who should kill the beast he would give the skin as a prize. Now the men who assembled to hunt the boar were these6:— Meleager, son of Oeneus; Dryas, son of Ares; these came from Calydon; Idas and Lynceus, sons of Aphareus, from Messene; Castor and Pollux, sons of Zeus and Leda, from Lacedaemon; Theseus, son of Aegeus, from Athens; Admetus, son of Pheres, from Pherae; Ancaeus and Cepheus, sons of Lycurgus, from Arcadia; Jason, son of Aeson, from Iolcus; Iphicles, son of Amphitryon, from Thebes; Pirithous, son of Ixion, from Larissa; Peleus, son of Aeacus, from Phthia; Telamon, son of Aeacus, from Salamis; Eurytion, son of Actor, from Phthia; Atalanta, daughter of Schoeneus, from Arcadia; Amphiaraus, son of Oicles, from Argos. With them came also the sons of Thestius. And when they were assembled, Oeneus entertained them for nine days; but on the tenth, when Cepheus and Ancaeus and some others disdained to go hunting with a woman, Meleager compelled them to follow the chase with her, for he desired to have a child also by Atalanta, though he had to wife Cleopatra, daughter of Idas and Marpessa. When they surrounded the boar, Hyleus and Ancaeus were killed by the brute, and Peleus struck down Eurytion undesignedly with a javelin. But Atalanta was the first to shoot the boar in the back with an arrow, and Amphiaraus was the next to shoot it in the eye; but Meleager killed it by a stab in the flank, and on receiving the skin gave it to Atalanta. Nevertheless the sons of Thestius, thinking scorn that a woman should get the prize in the face of men, took the skin from her, alleging that it belonged to them by right of birth if Meleager did not choose to take it.  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,7 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 out8 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.9  After Althaea's death Oeneus married Periboea, daughter of Hipponous. The author of the Thebaid says that when Olenus was sacked, Oeneus received Periboea as a gift of honor; but Hesiod says that she was seduced by Hippostratus, son of Amarynceus, and that her father Hipponous sent her away from Olenus in Achaia to Oeneus, because he dwelt far from Greece, with an injunction to put her to death.10  However, some say that Hipponous discovered that his daughter had been debauched by Oeneus, and therefore he sent her away to him when she was with child. By her Oeneus begat Tydeus. But Pisander says that the mother of Tydeus was Gorge, for Zeus willed it that Oeneus should fall in love with his own daughter.11 When Tydeus had grown to be a gallant man he was banished for killing, as some say, Alcathous, brother of Oeneus; but according to the author of the Alcmaeonidhis victims were the sons of Melas who had plotted against Oeneus, their names being Pheneus, Euryalus, Hyperlaus, Antiochus, Eumedes, Sternops, Xanthippus, Sthenelaus; but as Pherecydes will have it, he murdered his own brother Olenias.12 Being arraigned by Agrius, he fled to Argos and came to Adrastus, whose daughter Deipyle he married and begat Diomedes. Tydeus marched against Thebes with Adrastus,13 and died of a wound which he received at the hand of Melanippus.  But the sons of Agrius, to wit, Thersites, Onchestus, Prothous, Celeutor, Lycopeus, Melanippus, wrested the kingdom from Oeneus and gave it to their father, and more than that they imprisoned Oeneus in his lifetime and tormented him.14 Nevertheless Diomedes afterwards came secretly with Alcmaeon from Argos and put to death all the sons of Agrius, except Onchestus and Thersites, who had fled betimes to Peloponnese; and as Oeneus was old, Diomedes gave the kingdom to Andraemon who had married the daughter of Oeneus, but Oeneus himself he took with him to Peloponnese. Howbeit, the sons of Agrius, who had made their escape, lay in wait for the old man at the hearth of Telephus in Arcadia, and killed him. But Diomedes conveyed the corpse to Argos and buried him in the place where now a city is called Oenoe after him.15 And having married Aegialia, daughter of Adrastus or, as some say, of Aegialeus, he went to the wars against Thebes and Troy.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
1 Compare Hyginus, Fab. 129.
4 The whole of the following account of the life and death of Meleager is quoted, with a few verbal changes and omissions, by Zenobius, Cent. v.33. The story is told by Bacch. 5.93ff., ed. Jebb; and, though without any express mention of the burning brand or of Meleager's death, by Hom. Il. 9.529-599. Compare Diod. 4.34; Ov. Met. 8.270ff.; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. ii.481; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 46ff. (First Vatican Mythographer 146). It was made the theme of tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides. See Nauck, TGF, 2nd ed. （Leipsig, 1889）, pp. 219ff., 525ff.; The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, ii.64ff.
5 For the story of the burning brand on which the life of Meleager depended, see also Aesch. Lib. 604ff.; Bacch. 5.136ff., ed. Jebb; Diod. 4.34.6ff.; Paus. 10.31.4; Ant. Lib. 2; Dio Chrysostom lxvii. vol. ii. p. 231, ed. L. Dindorf; Scholiast on Hom. Il. ix.534; Ov. Met. 8.445-525; Hyginus, Fab. 171, 174; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. ii.481; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 47 (First Vatican Mythographer 146). The story belongs to a widespread class of tales concerned with the “external soul,” or the belief that a person's life is bound up with an animal or object outside of his own body. See Balder the Beautiful, ii.94ff.
8 From Calydon, then besieged by the Curetes.
9 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 Sporades （Ael., 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 Leros （Ant. Lib. 2） On the birds see D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Glossary of Greek Birds （Oxford, 1895）, pp. 114ff.
10 Compare Diod. 4.35.1ff., according to whom Periboea alleged that she was with child by Ares. Sophocles wrote a tragedy on the subject; a few fragments of it remain （The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, i.216ff.）.
12 Compare Eustathius on Hom. Il. xiv.122, p. 971; Scholiast on Hom. Il. xiv.114, 120; The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, iii.38, frag. 799; Statius, Theb. i.401ff., with the commentary of Lactantius Placidus, pp. 47ff. ed. R. Jahnke. The accounts differ as to whom Tydeus killed, but they agree that he fled from Calydon to Adrastus at Argos, and that Adrastus purified him from the murder （Eustathius and Scholiast on Hom. Il. xiv.122, p. 971） and gave him his daughter to wife. Compare Apollodorus, iii.6.1.
14 With this and what follows compare Paus. 2.25.2; Scholiast on Aristoph. Ach. 418; Ant. Lib. 37; Hyginus, Fab. 175. The story furnished Euripides with the theme of a tragedy called Oeneus. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 536ff.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.