Meleager


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/.

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 in Greek mythology, the leader of the Calydonian boar hunt. The Iliad relates how Meleager's father, King Oeneus of Calydon, had omitted to sacrifice to Artemis, who sent a wild boar to ravage the country. Meleager collected a band of heroes to hunt it, and he eventually killed it himself. The Calydonians and the Curetes (neighbouring warriors who aided in the hunt) then quarrelled over the spoils, and war broke out between them. In this war Meleager killed the brother of his mother, Althaea, and she cursed him. At one point the Curetes besieged Calydon; since Meleager refused to fight, the Curetes were on the verge of victory when Meleager finally joined the battle and repulsed them. The Iliad does not describe Meleager's death, though it mentions that it occurred before the Trojan War. His mother caused his death by burning the log whose span of existence was coterminous with his.

      Meleager formed the subject of the Meleager of Euripides, of which only fragments survive.

▪ Greek poet
flourished 1st century BC, b. Gadara [now Umm Qays, Jordan]

      Greek poet who compiled the first large anthology of epigrams. This was the first of the collections that made up what is known as the Greek Anthology. Meleager's collection contained poems by 50 writers and many by himself; an introductory poem compared each writer to a flower, and the whole was entitled Stephanos (“Garland”). Meleager's own poems are neatly constructed, and they treat erotic themes with cleverness; they had a considerable influence on the epigrams written during the time of the Roman Empire. He lived in Tyre and, in old age, on the Aegean island of Cos.

Additional Reading
Meleager is significantly discussed in Kathryn J. Gutzwiller, Poetic Garlands: Hellenistic Epigrams in Context (1998).

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