by James Hunter
The hunting of the Calydonian boar was one of the most famous episodes of Greek heroic legend. Oeneus, the king of Calydon, failed to honor Artemis when he was sacrificing the first-fruits of the harvest, and in revenge Artemis sent a savage boar which laid waste to the countryside.
Oeneus called together a great host of Greek heroes to rid his country of the boar. It was a distinguished company: the hunting party included a sizable portion of the crew of the Argo, and many of the hunters also had separate legendary exploits of their own. Although accounts of the hunt vary, some of the more famous names mentioned include Jason, Theseus, Telamon, Peleus, the Dioscuri, Laërtes, Nestor, Meleager and Atalanta.
The hunt itself was a bloody affair, with several men being killed before anyone could even wound the boar. Finally, Atalanta injured the beast with an arrow, and then Meleager killed it with his spear. Afterward, Meleager tried to award the boar's pelt to Atalanta, since he was in love with her and since she had been the first to draw blood in the hunt. However, Meleager's uncles, Plexippus and Toxeus, objected to awarding the prize to a woman, and in the ensuing argument Meleager killed them. Meleager's mother, Althaea, then arranged Meleager's own death in revenge for the deaths of her brothers.
The François krater (ca. 570 BCE) is one of the objects which depict the hunt. Scopas (fourth century BCE) sculpted the hunt for the eastern facade of the Athena temple at Tegea.
- Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Bartelink, Dr. G.J.M. (1988). Prisma van de mythologie. Utrecht: Het Spectrum.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses viii, 267-525.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 8.2-3.