Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
neus, father of Meleager, offends Artemis, goddess of the hunt, by offering sacrifices to all the gods except her. As a punishment for his negligence, Artemis sends into Calydon a wild boar that ravages the land and the crops.
Althæa, embittered by the curse, refuses to pay homage to Artemis and rages against the gods. Althæa is a woman of strong will and determination. Years before, when her son Meleager was born, she had a strange dream concerning his birth. In the dream, three spinning women, the Fates, visited Althæa and promised that Meleager would have strength, good fortune, and a bounteous life, until the brand on the hearth burned completely. On hearing the last part of the prophecy, Althæa sprang from her bed, grasped the burning brand, and smothered the heat from it with her bare hands and feet. Then, to guard Meleager’s life, she hid the brand.
She also dreamed that the heatless brand burst into flame as a bud bursts into flower; with this strange phenomenon, Death came to blow charred ash from the brand into her breast, but there Love quenched the flame. The omen presaged for Althæa the security of her family; but in spite of her great pride, she was not unmindful of the lots that the gods might cast for mortals. These thoughts are in her mind as she goes to arm Meleager for the boar hunt. Never was there so strong a man of royal birth as Meleager. The Chorus, reviewing the life span of human beings, sums up this existence...
(The entire section is 1124 words.)
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