Power Pig


While I generally think of pigs as fairly gentle domestic animals, they apparently can be quite dangerous, particularly when they’re the wild variety that you don’t see all that often in my neck of the woods. There are several Greek myths involving wild pigs where they’re treated as quite dangerous monsters. Herakles captured the Erymanthian Boar as one of his labors, and one of the foes Theseus vanquished on his way to Athens was a sow. The most dangerous porcine monster in Greek mythology was, however, the Calydonian Boar, called that because it roamed the area known as Calydon. This is one of the stories featured in Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, and while I’ve been interested in Greek mythology for most of my life, I didn’t recall having read of it before. The story has it that King Oeneus of Caledon neglected to include Artemis in his offering of first fruits to the gods. I guess you could never honor ALL the gods, as they cropped up in ancient Greece the way Walmarts do in the modern United States, but it was probably always a good idea to acknowledge the Big Twelve. So Artemis, who could be incredibly vindictive, sent a boar to ravage through Oeneus’ country, where it destroyed orchards and killed people and animals. Many of the biggest names among Greek heroes, sometimes even including Jason, Theseus, and the Dioscuri, hunted this boar under the leadership of Oeneus’ son Meleager.

Some versions of the myth claim that the boar was the offspring of the sow Theseus had previously killed. One of the hunters was Atalante, a woman who had been raised by Artemis herself, and nursed by the goddess in the form of a bear. I don’t know how she managed to lactate when she was a perpetual virgin, but that’s kind of a nitpick considering how many other supernatural things the gods do. Many of the male warriors didn’t want to hunt with a woman, but Meleager was in love with her and hence willing to let her join the fray.

Atalante wounded the boar with an arrow and Meleager finished it off, giving the woman the skin as a trophy.

The sons of Thestios didn’t approve of this, so Meleager killed them. This in turn led Meleager’s mother Althaea, who was also a daughter of Thestios, to burn the brand that was fated to end her son’s life. War then broke out between Calydon and the Kouretes over possession of the hide and head of the slain boar. All this fuss over a pigskin? Well, hey, just look at what’s happening on Sunday.

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This entry was posted in Animals, Authors, Greek Mythology, Monsters, Mythology, Percy Jackson, Rick Riordan and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Power Pig

  1. Pingback: Today You Are a Man | VoVatia

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