Yes I am finally done with Heracles and his twelve tasks, but there still many stories that have yet to be told in my trademarked sense of humor. (If any of you even dare write rival mythology blogs, I will sue your ass!) One of these stories was the tale of the Great Calydonian Boar Hunt, which had an ensemble of heroes that would rival the Argonauts and the Expendables. Now I'll be using the Ovid retelling since that one is the easiest to write about.
And only three are well known today
So what caused this group of heroes (and heroine) to band together to go hunt some boar? Well like most moments in Greek Mythology, it was caused by a immortal's petty rage getting the best of her. The goddess in question is Artemis, goddess of the moon and the hunt. Why is she pissed? Because some king in the region of Calydon region in Aetolia, north of the Corinthian Gulf, whose name was Oeneus (which means "wine man") forgot to offer a sacrifice to Artemis and because of this accident, the goddess of the silver bow sent forth a terrible boar which ate the crops and would gore anyone who tried to field their farms. The townsfolk thus ran into the safety of the city walls and soon they began to starve as food levels went down. It was then that Oeneus realized that they needed help and so he sent messengers to all the parts of Greece, asking to summon the best warriors and hunters to come over to kill the horrible boar.
We need the justice league!
Now here are some of the heroes that were summoned for the hunt: Theseus, Jason, Peleus (father of Achilles) Telamon (father of Ajax the Greater) Nestor, Castor and Pollux (Gemini), Meleager (son of Oeneus) and Atlanta (the great huntress from Arcadia). Artemis herself told Atlanta to participate in the hunt, for it would aid in Artemis' revenge since the men would not like it if a woman joined the hunt. Meleager, who had fallen in love at the sight of Atlanta, persuaded the men to allow Atlanta to join in their hunt for the Calydonian boar. Oeneus promised as a reward the hide and tusks of the beast for whoever killed it.
Stay classy Deviant Art.
The hunters search all around the region for the beast until it was seen by one of the heroes. They prepared their attack and it is said that Echion was the first to attack by throwing his spear at the gigantic swine. He missed and the boar charged upon the heroes. Brash Ancaeus was the first to fall by the tusks of the boar, speared in the gut which caused his intestines fall out of the wound. Then fell Hyleus, who was trampled by the huge monster. Peleus' friend, Eurytion fell by a misguided javelin thrown by Peleus himself. It was then Atlanta who was able to be the first to wound the boar with a shot from her bow. And it was Meleager who finished the job and the beast was slain.
Now it was time to decide who would have the prize. Meleager said that the prize be given to Atlanta since she was the first to wound the boar. However,the brothers Toxeus and Plexippus found it distasteful that a woman be given a prize that involved men and said it was their birthright to be given the tusks and hide if Meleager refused to accept it. Because of this Meleager immediately killed the two brothers before handing the prize to Atlanta who gladly accepted it.
Glad you aint my mother
There was still discontent with Atlanta winning the hide, specifically the uncles of Meleager (Iphicles and Eurypylus) were upset that their nephew gave up the prize to a woman. Because of this Meleager killed his uncles, but in doing so doomed himself. For when his mother got word of Meleager's actions, she took the sacred log that was foretold by the fates themselves at Meleager's birth that when the log was burned, Meleager would be consumed in flames. His mother, Althaea, had hidden the log from any fire since his birth, but consumed by rage, she hurled the log into the sacred hearth. At the same time, Meleager spontaneously combusted and burned to death. This was all a part of Artemis' grand plan, for all the heirs of Oeneus were dead and to add salt to the wounds Althaea hanged herself in grief.