Meleager is the son of the Chaldean king Oeneus, but according to some legends, his real father was Ares, the god of war. At the age of seven, the mighty moirs predicted Meleager’s death. She became famous for racing Atalanta in a race, and when, in gratitude to all the gods, Oeneus forgot to mention Artemis, she sent a ferocious boar to destroy the crop and kill the animals. Then heroes come to the rescue, including Jason, Theseus, Admetus and others, until finally Atalanta hits him with his arrows, and Meleager kills the animal with his spear.

Myth of Meleager

The Chaldean king Oeneus, the father of the hero Meleager, drew the wrath of the great goddess Artemis. Once, when he celebrated the end of the fruit-harvest and the grape-harvest, he offered rich sacrifices to the Olympian gods, and only to Artemis he did not offer a sacrifice. Artemis punished Oeneus for this. She sent a terrible boar to his country. The ferocious, huge boar devastated the entire vicinity of Calidon. With his monstrous protruding teeth, he uprooted entire trees, destroying vines and tender-colored apples. The boar did not spare people if they came across him. Grief oppressed everyone in the vicinity of Calidon. Then, seeing the general grief, Oeneus’ son Meleager decided to make a chase and kill the boar. He gathered many Greek heroes for this dangerous hunt. Castor and Polydeuces, Spartaus of Athens, King Admetus of Fera, Jason of Yolk, Yolai of Thebes, Peirith of Thessaly, Peleus of Phthia, Telamon of Salamis, and many other heroes took part in the hunt. For hunting came from Arcadia and Atalanta, fast running like the fastest deer. It was a branch in the mountains. Because her father did not want to have daughters, he ordered her to be taken to the mountains immediately after birth. There, in a gorge, Atalanta was weaned by a bear and grew up among hunters. As a hunter, Atalanta was equal to Artemis herself.

The gathered heroes feasted at the hospitable Oiney for nine days. Finally they set out to hunt for the boar. The surrounding mountains echoed with the high barking of numerous packs of dogs. The dogs pulled the huge boar out of its hiding place and chased it. Here is a wild boar running like a whirlwind, chased by dogs. The hunters rushed at him. Each of them hurried to kill the boar with his spear, but the fight with the monstrous boar was hard; not one of the hunters experienced the power of his terrible protruding teeth. The boar mortally wounded the fearless hunter, the Arcadian Ankey, with his teeth when he tried to kill the boar and swung his double-edged ax. Then Atalanta drew her tight bow and fired a sharp arrow at the boar. At that moment, Meleager came running. With a strong blow of his spear, he killed the huge boar. The hunt is over. Everyone enjoyed the success.

But to whom to give the prize? Many heroes took part in the hunt. Many of them wounded the boar with their sharp spears. A dispute arose over the reward, and the goddess Artemis, who was angry with Meleager for killing her boar, inflamed the quarrel even more.

This dispute eventually led to a war between the Aetolians, the inhabitants of Calidon, and the Kurets, inhabitants of the neighboring city of Pleuron. Victory was on the side of the Aetolians, while in their ranks fought the mighty hero Meleager.

Inflamed in battle, Meleager killed his uncle. Upon learning of the death of her beloved brother, his mother, Althea, was deeply saddened. She became furious when she learned that her brother had died at the hands of her son Meleager. Enraged at her son, Althea begged the grim king Hades and his wife Persephone to punish Meleager. Out of anger, she called on the avengers of Erinyes to hear her pleas. Meleager was angry when he learned that his own mother wanted his death, and withdrew from the battle. He sat sad, resting his head on his hands, in the rooms of his wife, the beautiful Cleopatra. As soon as Meleager stopped fighting on the side of the Aetolians, their victory changed. The Kurets began to win. They have already besieged rich Calidon. Doom threatened the city. In vain did the Calidon elders beg Meleager to return to the army. They offered the hero a great reward, but he did not listen to their pleas. Personally, Meleager’s elderly father, Oeneus, came to the rooms of Cleopatra, Meleager’s wife; he knocked on the closed door and begged Meleager to forget his anger the moment his hometown of Calidon perished. And Meleager did not listen to him. Meleager’s sister, his mother, and his beloved friends begged Meleager to help, but he was adamant. By this time, the Curets had taken control of the walls of Calidon. They were already setting fire to the town houses, wanting to set everything on fire. At last they shook from the blows and the walls of the rooms where Meleager was. Then his young wife fell to her knees in terror in front of her husband and began to beg him to save the city from destruction. She begged him to consider what an evil fate would befall both the city and the vanquished; to think that the victors would take women and children into severe slavery. Does he want such a fate to befall her? The mighty Meleager listened to his wife’s pleas. He quickly dressed in shining armor, girded his sword, and picked up his huge shield and spear. Meleager rushed into battle, repulsed the curettes and saved his native Calidon. But doom awaited Meleager himself. The gods of the realm of shadows of the dead had heard Althea’s pleas and curses. Meleager fell in battle, mortally wounded by the golden arrow of the long-range god Apollo, and Meleager’s soul flew into the sorrowful realm of shadows.