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Meleager

Son of King Oeneus of of Calydon and Althaea. Seven days after his birth the Fates appeared to foretell his future. Clotho and Lachesis predicted he would be noble and brave. Atropos warn that he would die as soon as one of the sticks in the fireplace burned completely. Taking the hint Althaea pulled the stick from the fire, put it out, and hid it in a safe place.

While still young he came to be regarded as second only to Heracles in his abilities. He was the youngest of the Argonauts and according to some killed the Argonauts chief enemy, King Aeetes of Colchis.

After he returned from this journey he married Cleopatra and had a daughter Polydora. His domestic tranquility was brought to an end when Artemis unleashed the fearsome boar in his homeland. He naturally took a leading role in killing the boar during what became known as the Calydonian Boar Hunt which lead to his death.

There are two versions of Meleager's death Both start with a quarrel with his uncles over the prize boar skin. To understand what happened it is necessary to know that Althaea was married to Oeneus to help settle a blood feud that may have gone on for generations. While his uncles came to help with the boar there still would have been a lot of tension between them and the Calydonians and Althaea's brothers. Tensions that were not helped by strange choice of taking Atlanta on the hunt.

In the first version the quarrel over the prize led to a new war between Curetes and Calydon. This put Meleager who had blood relatives on both sides in a terrible position. Without his leadership Calydon was on the verge of losing. His wife appealed to him to save the city. However, while leading Calydon he killed his uncles. As a result his Mother cursed him. Possibly by burning the stick from the Fates visit. With or without the curse, the Erinyes killed him to revenge his killing of blood relatives.

The more romantic version of his death starts with Meleager awarding the prize to Atlanta because she drew first blood. Awarding the prize to a woman angers the rest of the hunting party but, most stay silent. However, his uncles feel their position entitle them to tell Meleager what to do. The quarrel breaks out between them and Meleager kills his uncles. On hearing of her brothers death by his hands, his mother burns the magic stick from the Fates visit. As predicted Meleager dies. Althaea then kills herself in remorse. This is followed by Cleopatra killing herself from grief.

 

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