MEL'EA'GER ( Lat., from Gk. .Mt7ea; poe, Mete eyroP), In Greek legend. the hero of the Caly donian boar-hunt. In the earliest. known form of the legend. which is found in the Iliad. he is the on of (linens, King Of .Etolia. and Althwa, daughter of Thestins. When the Calydonian boar (q.v.) laid waste the land. he gathered a band of heroes, and. after a hard struggle and much loss of life, slew the monster. A strife arose between the -Elolinus and Curetes over the spoils of the hunt, in which Meleager led his people to victory. until he killed his mother's brothers. -Ithaca then cursed her son and prayed the Furies and gods of the It oser world to pun ish him. The hero in anger withdrew from the tight, and, knowing his fate. refused to return. until the Curetes had actually stormed the town, when he yielded to the prayers of his wife and went forth to save his people. and met his death, seemingly at the hand of Apollo. A later and more popular version introduced many altera tions. When was seven days old the Fates told his mother that the child would live till a brand then on the hearth should be con sumed. Althira thereupon quenched the hrand, and DID it in a chest. Later. on the news of the death of her brothers, she, in her grief and rage, put the brand again upon the tire, and the hero nt (awe wasted away. This story appears in an
Ode of Bacellylides. Later still, new features were introduced. The hunt brought together many heroes. and among them the wild A read ian maiden Atalanta (q.v.). with whom Wleager fell in love. She first wounded the boar. and received from her lover the head and hide. These the son. of Thestins. in their jealousy, took from her, and were killed by their nephew, whereupon Althwa consumed the brand. Althica was said to have killed herself in remorse, while the lam entations of his sisters and the women of Neu ron so moved the gods t hat they changed them into guinea-hens (pei.e ay pie tc) , with the exception of the two sisters, Deianira, later the wife of Ilercu les,and Gorge. This story seems due to Sophoeles.
The Calydonian Hunt was a favorite subject with the vase-painters from early times, and was also taken by the great artist Seopas as the sub ject for one of the pediments of the temple of Athena Alea at Tegen. Fragments of these sculp tures are now in Athens. A statue of 31eleager, copied from a work of Scopus, is now in the Vati can at 'Rome, and a finer copy of the head and torso in the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard 1;ni versity.