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Form: Gr. Meleagros.
Son of (Eneus of Calydon and of Althaea, husband of Cleopatra (see, IDAS), one of the most celebrated heroes of Greek legend. He took part in the enterprise of the Argonauts and brought about the celebrated chase of the Calydonian boar (see OENEUS), to which he invited the most renowned heroes of the time, Admetus, Amphiaraus, Jason, Idas, Lynceus, Castor and Pollux, Nestor, Theseus and Pirithous, Peleus, Telamon, and others. Many lost their lives, till at last Meleager slew the monster. However, Artemis thereupon stirred up furious strife between the Calydonians and the Curetes (who dwelt at Pleuron) about the head and skin of the boar, the prize of victory. The Calydonians were victorious, as long as Meleager fought at their head; but when he slew the brother of his mother, she uttered a terrible curse on him, and he retired sullenly from the fray. The Curetes immediately forced the Calydonians to retreat, and were already beginning to climb the walls of Calydon, when, at the height of their distress, he yielded to the prayers of his wife and again joined in the fight to ward of destruction from the city; but he did not return alive, for the Erinys had accomplished the curse of his mother. According to a later legend, the Moerae appeared to his mother on the seventh day after his birth, and announced to her that her son would have to die when a log of wood on the hearth was consumed by the flame; whereupon Althaea immediately snatched the log from the fire and concealed it in a chest. At the Calydonian Hunt Meleager fell in love with Atalante (q.v.), and gave her (who had inflicted the first wound) the prize, the skin of the animal which he had killed. He slew the brothers of his mother, the sons of Thestius, when they were lying in wait for the virgin to rob her of the boar's hide. Overcome by pain at the death of her brothers, Althaea sets fire to the log, and Meleager dies a sudden death. His mother and wife hang themselves; his sisters weep so bitterly for Meleager, that Artemis for pity changes them into gninea-hens, (Gr. meleagrides). Legends relate that even in the nether world Meleager retained his dauntless courage; for when Heracles descended to Hades, all the shades fled before him except Meleager and Medusa.

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