© 1998 Bernard SUZANNE   Last updated December 6, 1998 
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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. By clicking on the minimap at the beginning of the entry, you can go to a full size map in which the city or location appears. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.

City of Ætolia on the northern coast of the western part of the gulf of Corinth (that part west of the city of Naupactus which was also called Gulf of Calydon after that city, and is now called Gulf of Patras, after the modern name of the Achaian city of Patræ) (area 2).
In mythology, Calydon was founded by a king by that name, one of the sons of Ætolus, the eponym of the Ætolians, himself a son of Endymion, king of Elis, and of Pronoe, the daughter of Phorbas and sister of Augeas, king of Elis. Calydon had only daughters, one of which, Epicaste, married Agenor, the son of her uncle Pleuron, Calydon's brother, and founder of a nearby city bearing his name. Thus, Agenor became king of Pleuron and Calydon, as was his son Porthaon after him. In the next generation, Pleuron became the kingdom of Thestius, the son of Ares and of Porthaon's sister Demonice, while Calydon remained the kingdom of Oeneus, Porthaon's son.
Oeneus first married Althæa, the daughter of Thestius, and they had two children, Meleagrus and Deiareina (though some say the true father of Meleagrus was Ares, and the true father of Deiareina was Dionysus, who, in reward, would have given Oeneus, whose name in Greek means "wine", the first vine and taught him how to grow and use it). When Meleagrus was seven days old, the Fates warned his mother Althæa that the kid would die as soon as the brand that was then burning in the fireplace had burned out. So, Althæa immediately removed it from the fire, extinguished it and secured it in a coffer. Once grown up, Meleagrus took the lead in an episode called the hunt of Calydon, which tells the story of the hunt of a monstrous boar sent by Artemis in the country of Calydon after Oeneus had forgotten to name her in a thanksgiving ceremony at the end of the crops. To try and get rid of the beast, Meleagrus called upon heroes from all around Greece to come and help him in the hunt (many of whom are also named among the Argonauts). They were :

The first arrow that reached the boar was from Atalante. Then Amphiaraus reached it in the eye with one of his and Meleagrus killed the monster with his knife, earning the spoils, that he abandonned to Atalante. But Meleagrus' uncles were offended by this gesture, claiming that, as closest relatives of Meleagrus, they were the ones who should get the spoils, were their nephew willing to abandon them. Angered by this claim, Meleagrus killed his uncles. As soon as she learned that her son had killed her brothers, Althæa took the piece of wood that she had saved from the fire at Meleagrus' birth because of the prediction of the Fates and threw it in the fire, so that Meleagrus died soon after. But, when she realized what she had done, she hanged herself,as did Cleopatra, Meleagrus' wife.
In an earlier version of the story, less concerned with listing the heroes who took part in the hunt, after Meleagrus has killed the boar, Artemis, still angry at Calydon, stirred a fight between hunters of Ætolian and Curete origin (the "nephews" and "uncles"?...). Meleagrus was on the side of the Ætolians and, so long as he fought with them, they had the advantage. But, during the fight, Meleagrus killed the brothers of his mother and, as a result, she cursed him. Afraid of the possible consequences of such a curse, Meleagrus withdrew from the fight and immediately, the Curetes took the advantage and the Ætolians were forced to retreat within the walls of Calydon. One after the other, the elders of the city, the priests, his father and his mother, his dearest friends, begged in vain Meleagrus to return to the fight. But it is only when the enemy started to set the city afire and threatened to plunder his house that his wife Cleopatra did manage to decide him to return at last to the fight, where he turned the situation around and gave his people victory, though he was killed in so doing (this is the version known to the Iliad, where it is used by Phoenix to try and convince Achilles to change his mind : Iliad, IX, 527-599). No matter what, when Heracles, as part of his labors, descended to Hades, he met Meleagrus, who asked him to marry his sister Deiareina, which he did, for better and for worse (Deiareina turned out to unwillingly be cause of Heracles' death).

After Althæa had died, Oeneus married Periboea, daughter of Hipponous, king of Olenus (a city of Ætolia), with whom he had a son, Tydeus, the father of Diomedes, one of the heroes of the Trojan war. When Tydeus reached adulthood, he killed his brother (or his uncle Alcathous, a brother of his father Oeneus, or his cousins, the sons of Melas, another of Oeneus' brother, who had tried to rob Oeneus of his kingdom) and had to leave his country. He eventually arrived at the court of Adrastus in Argos at the same time as Polynices, the exiled son of Oedipus deprived of his share of kingship by his brother. Adrastus greeted them both, purified Tydeus of his crime and gave one of his daughters in marriage to each, promissing to help them recapture their throne. This is why Tydeus got involved in the expedition of the seven against Thebes, where he died, and his son Diomedes, who was thus also a grandson of Adrastus by his mother Deipyle, became king of Argos and participated in the victorious expedition of the Epigones against Thebes. Diomedes was also involved in a fight against the sons of Agrius, a brother of Oeneus, who had helped their father take over the throne of Calydon from an aging Oeneus unable to defend himself. Diomedes killed all but two of them who had fled in Peloponnese, and handed Oeneus' kingdom over to Andraemon, the husband of Oeneus' daughter Gorge. Oeneus retired in Peloponnese where he was later killed in an ambush by the surviving sons of Agrius and laid to rest in sumptuous ceremonies by Diomedes. The rest of Diomedes' story belongs to the story of Argos, of which he had become king. Andraemon and Gorge had a son named Thoas who took part in the Trojan war on the Greek side.


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Plato and his dialogues : Home - Biography - Works - History of interpretation - New hypotheses - Map of dialogues : table version or non tabular version. Tools : Index of persons and locations - Detailed and synoptic chronologies - Maps of Ancient Greek World. Site information : About the author.

First published January 4, 1998 - Last updated December 6, 1998
© 1998 Bernard SUZANNE (click on name to send your comments via e-mail)
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