102. Atalanta joins the Calydonian Boar hunt

Once upon a time, the land of Calydon was blessed with a fruitful year, and King Oeneus decreed that all should make offerings to the gods and goddesses. Accordingly, the first corns were offered to Ceres, wine of grapes to Bacchus, oil of olives to Minerva, and likewise all the deities were adored. But they forgot Diana, and her altar alone, remained bereft of any offering.

Thus neglected, the enraged Diana sent a fierce boar to lay waste the land of Calydon. The avenging boar was larger than any bull, had bloodshot eyes that seemed like burning coals, and hard muscles knotted his uneven neck. His sharp tusks were huge, his dreadful jaws gave out a fearsome cry, and his ghastly throat belched out lightning, which scorched the verdant fields. The terrible boar trampled the corn fields, tore the branches of the vine, and ferociously shook the olive tree, making the leaves and fruits, fall to the ground. Dogs, sheep, bulls, cows, all were mercilessly slaughtered by the boar. Terror gripped the land and the country folk fled to the cities.

Meleager, the son of Mars and foster-son of Oeneus, implored several heroes to make a band and hunt the boar. Castor, Pollux, Jason, Theseus, Perithous, Toxeus, Plexippus, Lynkeus, Idas, Caeneus, Leucippus, Acastus, Dryas, Phoenix, Telamon, Peleus, Iolas, Eurytion, Echion, Panopeus, Hyleus, Hippasus, Nestor, Ancaeus, Mopsus, and many more heroes, joined Meleager to kill the boar.

Atalanta, the virgin huntress of Mount Lycaeus, fastened a polished buckle to her robe, tied her lustrous golden hair in a knot, swung over her left shoulder an ivory case holding sharp-pointed arrows, held a bow in her left hand, and approached the heroes to join them. When Meleager saw Atalanta, flaming fires of love blazed in him, but neither his modesty nor the time, allowed him to express his desire. Atalanta joined the band of heroes, to hunt down the fierce Calydonian Boar.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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