Meleager et Atalanta, after Giulio Romano.
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This article is about the mythological figure, for other uses see Meleager (disambiguation).

In Greek mythology, Meleager (pronounced /ˌmɛliˈɡər/[2], Ancient Greek: Μελέαγρος Meléagros) was a hero venerated in his temenos at Calydon in Aetolia. He was already famed as the host of the Calydonian boar hunt in the epic tradition that was reworked by Homer.[3] Meleager was the son of Althaea and the vintner Oeneus and, according to some accounts father of Parthenopeus and Polydora.

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. Overhearing them, Althaea immediately doused and hid the brand.[4] Meleager married Cleopatra, daughter of Idas. However, in some versions, he had to defeat Atalanta in a footrace, in which he was aided by Athena.

Oeneus sent Meleager to gather up heroes from all over Greece[5] to hunt the Calydonian Boar that had been terrorizing the area, rooting up the vines, Oeneus having omitted Artemis at the festival. In addition to the heroes he required, he chose Atalanta, a fierce huntress, whom he loved.[6] According to one account of the hunt, when 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.

Meleager's brother Toxeus, the "archer",[7] and Plexippus (Althaea's brother) 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. When Althaea found out that Meleager had killed her brother and one of her sons, Althaea placed the brand that she had stolen from the Fates (the one that the Fates predicted, once engulfed with fire, would kill Meleager) upon the fire, thus fulfilling the prophecy and killing Meleager. The women who mourned his death were turned into guineafowl (Meleagrides).

Meleager and Atalanta (first half of 17th century) by Jacob Jordaens

Meleager is also mentioned as one of the Argonauts. In Hades, his is the only shade that does not flee Heracles, who has come after Cerberus. In Bacchylides' Ode V, Meleager is still in his shining armor, so formidable, in Bacchylides' account, that Heracles reaches for his bow to defend himself. Heracles is moved to tears by Meleager's account; Meleager has left his sister[8] Deianira unwedded in his father's house, and entreats Heracles to take her as bride;[9] here Bacchylides breaks off his account of the meeting, without noting that in this way Heracles in the Underworld chooses a disastrous wife.

With his wife Kleopatra, daughter of Idas and Marpessa,[10] he had a daughter, Polydora, who became the bride of Protesilaus, who left her bed on their wedding-night to join the expedition to Troy.

Among the Romans, the heroes assembled by Meleager for the Calydonian hunt provided a theme of multiple nudes in striking action, to be portrayed frieze-like on sarcophagi.

Meleager's story has similarities with the Scandinavian Norna-Gests þáttr.

Ancient sources


  1. ^ GR 1906.1-17.1; the bust is modern, made to support the ancient head, a Roman copy after Skopas.
  2. ^ Wells, John C. (2009). "Meleager". Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. London: Pearson Longman. ISBN 9781405881180. 
  3. ^ Homer, Iliad IX, 529-99.
  4. ^ Hyginus, Fabula 171; pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.8.2.
  5. ^ pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.8.2.
  6. ^ Euripides, Frg. 520, noted by Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959:119 note 673.
  7. ^ There were two further brothers, Thyreus, the "porter", and Klymenos, the "famous"— though Meleager is by far the most renowned of the four— and two sisters, Gorge and Deianira (Kerenyi 1959:199 and Genealogical table G, p. 375).
  8. ^ Or perhaps his half-sister, if Dionysus is the real father of Deianira, as pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 1.8.1, would have it; Oineos himself, "to judge by his name a double of the wine-god", Kerenyi observes (Kerenyi 1959:199).
  9. ^ Scholia on Iliad 21.194, noted by Kerenyi 1959:180 note 103.
  10. ^ Kerenyi 1959: Genealogical table F, p. 372.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Meleáger — MELEÁGER, gri, Gr. Μελέαγρος, ου, (⇒ Tab. XXVI.) 1 §. Aeltern und Geburt. Insgemein wird er für einen Sohn des Oeneus, Königs zu Kalydon, und der Althäa angegeben: doch wollen auch einige, Mars selbst habe in eben der Nacht, als Oeneus, mit der… …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • Meleager — Meleager, 1) so v.w. Meleagros; 2) so v.w. Breughel 6) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Meleager [1] — Meleager, myth. Sohn des Königs Oeneus von Kalydon und der Althäa, erlegte den kalydon. Eber, erschlug aber die 3 Brüder seiner Mutter, worauf diese in Folge eines Orakelspruches ein Scheit in das Feuer warf, u. wie dasselbe verzehrt wurde, so… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Meleager [2] — Meleager, griech. Epigrammendichter aus dem letzten Jahrh. v. Chr.; verlorne Sammlung von Epigrammen; M.s eigene gab Gräfe 1811 heraus …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Meleager — [mel΄ē ā′jər] n. [L < Gr Meleagros] Gr. Myth. the son of the queen of Calydon and slayer of the Calydonian boar: he is sometimes also listed as one of the Argonauts …   English World dictionary

  • Meleager — /mel ee ay jeuhr/, n. 1. fl. 1st century B.C., Greek epigrammatist. 2. Class. Myth. the heroic son of Althaea, an Argonaut, and the slayer of the Calydonian boar. Cf. Calydonian hunt. Also, Meleagros /mel ee ag ros/. * * * ▪ Greek mythology  in… …   Universalium

  • MELEAGER — I. MELEAGER Macedoniae Rex, post fratrem Ptolemaeum Ceraunum, an. 474. Urb. Cond. victus a Gallis, et occisus, ut et Antipater nepos Cassandri ex fratre, qui illum excepit. Post quos Macedones Sosthenem Regem creârunt. Pausan. in Phoc. Iustin. l …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Meleager — /mɛliˈeɪgə/ (say melee ayguh) noun Greek Legend the heroic son of Althaea. He was an Argonaut, and the slayer of the Calydonian boar. It had been prophesied to his mother that as long as a certain brand remained unburnt Meleager would live; after …   Australian English dictionary

  • Meleager — Meleagros ist der Name eine Figur der griechischen Mythologie: Meleagros (Mythologie) ein makedonischer König (reg. 279 v. Chr.): Meleagros (König) ein makedonischer Feldherr († 323 v. Chr.): Meleagros (Feldherr) ein griechischer Epigrammatiker… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • MELEAGER —    a Greek mythic hero, distinguished for throwing the javelin, and by his skill in it slaying a wild boar which devastated his country, and whose life depended on the burning down of a brand that was blazing on the hearth at the time of his… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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