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[2] Althaea had also a son Meleager,1 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.2 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 these3:— 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.


1 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.

2 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.

3 For lists of the heroes who hunted the Calydonian boar, see Ov. Met. 8.299ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 173.

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