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Meleager

Meleager

[mel-ee-ey-jer]
Meleager, hero in Greek mythology. He was the son of Oeneus, king of Calydon, and Althaea. When Meleager was born, a prophecy said that he would die when a certain log in the fire was burned. His mother snatched the log from the fire and hid it. Meleager grew to be a famous warrior. When Oeneus failed to sacrifice to Artemis, the goddess sent a huge wild boar to ravage his land. To kill the boar Greece's bravest heroes were summoned. Those who came included Castor and Pollux, Theseus, Jason, Nestor, and Atalanta. Meleager led the hunt, known as the Calydonian hunt, and killed the boar. He gave its pelt to Atalanta, with whom he had fallen in love. When his mother's brothers tried to take the pelt, Meleager killed them. In revenge, his mother angrily burned the hidden log, and Meleager died as prophesied. In Homer, the Atalanta account is absent, and Meleager is killed in a battle for possession of the pelt.

This article is about the mythological figure, for other uses see Meleager (disambiguation).

In Greek mythology, Meleager (Μελέαγρος) was the son of Althaea and Oeneus and, according to some accounts father of Parthenopeus and Polydora. His story has similarities with the Scandinavian Norna-Gests þáttr. When Meleager was born, the Moirae (the Fates) predicted he would only live until a brand, burning in the family hearth, was consumed by fire. Althaea immediately doused and hid the brand. Meleager married Cleopatra, daughter of Idas. However, in some versions, he had to defeat Atalanta in a footrace, which was aided by Athena.

Oeneus sent Meleager to gather up heroes to hunt the Calydonian Boar that had been stalking the area. Among many others, he chose Atalanta, a fierce huntress, whom he loved. According to one account of the hunt, Hylaeus and Rhaecus, two centaurs, tried to rape Atalanta. Meleager killed them.

Then, Atalanta wounded the boar and Meleager killed it. He awarded her the hide since she had drawn the first drop of blood.

Toxeus and Plexippus (Althaea's brothers) grew enraged that the prize was given to a woman. Meleager killed them in the following argument. He also killed Iphicles and Eurypylus for insulting Atalanta. Since Meleager had killed her two brothers, Althaea placed the brand back upon the fire, killing him.

Meleager is also mentioned as one of the Argonauts. With Atalanta, Meleager may have been the father of Parthenopeus, although in other versions Hippomenes was his father.

Apollodorus. Bibliotheke I, viii, 1-3; Ovid. Metamorphoses VIII, 269-525; Homer. Iliad IX, 529-99; Apollonius Rhodius. Argonautica I, 190-201.

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