103. Meleager kills his uncles

Once upon a time, Meleager, the son of King Oeneus of Calydon, formed a band of heroes to hunt down a fierce Calydonian boar. Atlanta, the virgin huntress, also joined the band. They approached the wild retreat of the boar, nets were spread and hunting dogs were let loose.

The boar startled by the barking dogs, jumped up, rushed headlong and with a fatal sidelong stroke, scattered the yelping dogs. Echion was the first among the heroes to hurl his spear at the boar, but his spear only scraped a maple tree. Jason’s spear cut the air with tremendous force, but it passed beyond the boar. The angry boar fell on Eupalamon and Pelagon, Nestor escaped, but the thigh of Hippasus was gored by the boar’s sharp tusks. Telamon tripped on tangled roots, and Peleus stooped to help Telamon to his feet. The beautiful and chaste huntress Atalanta, fitted a sharp arrow to her bow and twanged the taut bowstring. The feathered shaft flew, pierced beneath the boar’s ear and the boar’s stiff bristles, turned red with blood oozing from the wound. Pointing to the wound, Meleager told his companions to give honor to Atalanta’s hunting skill. But the heroes, unwilling to be outdone by a maid, rushed madly towards the boar, whose sharp tusks ripped through the groin of Ancaeus. Meleager threw his spear, which missed its mark. His second spear pierced the center of the boar’s back, and his third spear entered the shoulder of the boar. With unstoppable blood fast discharging from three fatal wounds, the boar died.

Meleager gifted the boar’s pelt and the head, to Atalanta. However, Plexippus and Toxeus, the brothers of Meleager’s mother Althaea, argued that the prize belonged to men and cannot be gifted, by a witless lover to a maid. They snatched the gift away from Atalanta, at the point of their spears. Meleager was enraged. He plunged his sword in the breast of his uncle Plexippus, and with that same bloodied sword, also killed his other uncle Toxeus.

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

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