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Meleager

by James Hunter
Meleager was the son of Oeneus and Althaea, king and queen of Calydon. When he was born, the three Moirae (Fates) announced to his mother that Meleager would live only so long as a brand burning upon the hearth remained unconsumed. Althaea snatched the brand from the fire and kept it in a safe place. Meleager grew up into a valiant warrior who was seemingly invulnerable to harm, and married Cleopatra, the daughter of the hero Idas.

When the Calydonian boar was ravaging the countryside, his father set him to lead the band of heroes who went forth to hunt the beast. Despite his marriage to Cleopatra, Meleager was in love with Atalanta, the only woman among the hunting party, and he rejoiced when she was the first to wound the boar; he then completed the kill himself, and awarded the boar's hide to her, on the ground that she had drawn first blood. However, Meleager's maternal uncles, Toxeus and Plexippus, were enraged that the prize of the hunt should be awarded to a woman, and tried to take it for themselves. Meleager fought with them and killed them.

Upon hearing the news of her brothers' deaths, Althaea removed the half-consumed brand from its hiding place and cast it upon the fire. Meleager writhed in agony, finally dying when the brand was burned entirely into ash.


Article details:

  • Pronunciation:
    mel-ee-ay'-jur

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