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Aper Calydonius. Meleager.

Wearied with travel Daedalus arrived
at Sicily,—where Cocalus was king;
and when the wandering Daedalus implored
the monarch's kind protection from his foe,
he gathered a great army for his guest,
and gained renown from an applauding world.


Now after Theseus had destroyed in Crete
the dreadful monster, Athens then had ceased
to pay her mournful tribute; and with wreaths
her people decked the temples of the Gods;
and they invoked Minerva, Jupiter,
and many other Gods whom they adored,
with sacrifice and precious offerings,
and jars of Frankincense.

Quick-flying Fame
had spread reports of Theseus through the land;
and all the peoples of Achaia, from that day,
when danger threatened would entreat his aid.
So it befell, the land of Calydon,
through Meleager and her native hero,
implored the valiant Theseus to destroy
a raging boar, the ravage of her realm.

Diana in her wrath had sent the boar
to wreak her vengeance; and they say the cause
was this:—The nation had a fruitful year,
for which the good king Oeneus had decreed
that all should offer the first fruits of corn
to Ceres—and to Bacchus wine of grapes—
and oil of olives to the golden haired
Minerva. Thus, the Gods were all adored,
beginning with the lowest to the highest,
except alone Diana, and of all the Gods
her altars only were neglected. No
frankincense unto her was given! Neglect
enrages even Deities.

“Am I
to suffer this indignity?” she cried,
“Though I am thus dishonored, I will not
be unrevenged!” And so the boar was sent
to ravage the fair land of Calydon.

And this avenging boar was quite as large
as bulls now feeding on the green Epirus,
and larger than the bulls of Sicily.
A dreadful boar.—His burning, bloodshot eyes
seemed coals of living fire, and his rough neck
was knotted with stiff muscles, and thick-set
with bristles like sharp spikes. A seething froth
dripped on his shoulders, and his tusks
were like the spoils of Ind. Discordant roars
reverberated from his hideous jaws;
and lightning—belched forth from his horrid throat—
scorched the green fields. He trampled the green corn
and doomed the farmer to lament his crops,
in vain the threshing-floor has been prepared,
in vain the barns await the promised yield.
Long branches of the vine and heavy grapes
are scattered in confusion, and the fruits
and branches of the olive tree, whose leaves
should never wither, are cast on the ground.

His spleen was vented on the simple flocks,
which neither dogs nor shepherd could protect;
and the brave bulls could not defend their herds.
The people fled in all directions from the fields,
for safety to the cities. Terror reigned.
There seemed no remedy to save the land,
till Meleager chose a band of youths,
united for the glory of great deeds.

What heroes shall immortal song proclaim?
Castor and Pollux, twins of Tyndarus;
one famous for his skill in horsemanship,
the other for his boxing. Jason, too, was there,
the glorious builder of the world's first ship,
and Theseus with his friend Perithous,
and Toxeus and Plexippus, fated sons
of Thestius, and the son of Aphareus,
Lynkeus with his fleet-foot brother Idas
and Caeneus, first a woman then a man
the brave Leucippus and the argonaut
Acastus, swift of dart; and warlike Dryas,
Hippothous and Phoenix, not then blind,
the son of King Amyntor, and the twain
who sprung from Actor, Phyleus thither brought
from Elis; Telamon was one of them
and even Peleus, father of the great
Achilles; and the son of Pheres joined,
and Iolas, the swift Eurytion,
Echion fleet of foot, Narycian Lelex—
and Panopeus, and Hyleus and Hippasus,
and Nestor (youthful then), and the four sons
Hippocoon from eld Amyclae sent,
the father-in-law of queen Penelope,
Ancaeus of Arcadia, and the wise
soothsayer Mopsus, and the prophet, son
of Oeclus, victim of a traitor-wife.—

And Atalanta, virgin of the groves,
of Mount Lycaeus, glory of her sex;
a polished buckle fastened her attire;
her lustrous hair was fashioned in a knot;
her weapons rattled in an ivory case,
swung from her white left shoulder, and she held
a bow in her left hand. Her face appeared
as maidenly for boy, or boyish for girl.

When Meleager saw her, he at once
longed for her beauty, though some god forbade.
The fires of love flamed in him; and he said,
“Happy the husband who shall win this girl!”
Neither the time nor his own modesty
permitted him to say another word.
But now the dreadful contest with the boar
engaged this hero's energy and thought.

A wood, umbrageous, not impaired with age,
slopes from a plain and shadows the wide fields,
and there this band of valiant heroes went—
eager to slay the dreaded enemy,
some spread the nets and some let loose the dogs,
some traced the wide spoor of the monster's hoofs.

There is a deep gorge where the rivulets
that gather from the rain, discharge themselves;
and there the bending willow, the smooth sedge,
the marsh-rush, ozier and tall tangled reed
in wild profusion cover up the marsh.
Aroused from this retreat the startled boar,
as quick as lightning from the clashing clouds
crashed all the trees that cumbered his mad way.—

The young men raised a shout, leveled their spears,
and brandished their keen weapons; but the boar
rushed onward through the yelping dogs,
and scattered them with deadly sidelong stroke.

Echion was the first to hurl his spear,
but slanting in its course it only glanced
a nearby maple tree, and next the spear
of long-remembered Jason cut the air;
so swiftly hurled it seemed it might transfix
the boar's back, but with over-force it sped
beyond the monster. Poising first his dart,
the son of Ampyx, as he cast it, he
implored Apollo, “Grant my prayer if I
have truly worshiped you, harken to me
as always I adore you! Let my spear
unerring strike its aim.” Apollo heard,
and guided the swift spear, but as it sped
Diana struck the iron head from the shaft,
and the blunt wood fell harmless from his hide.

Then was the monster's savage anger roused;
as the bright lightning's flash his red eyes flamed;
his breath was hot as fire. As when a stone
is aimed at walls or strong towers, which protect
encompassed armies,—launched by the taut rope
it strikes with dreaded impact; so the boar
with fatal onset rushed among this band
of noble lads, and stretched upon the ground
Eupalamon and Pelagon whose guard
was on the right; and their companions bore
their bodies from the field.

Another youth,
the brave son of Hippocoon received
a deadly wound—while turning to escape,
the sinew of his thigh was cut and failed
to bear his tottering steps.—

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