Bk VIII:260-328 The Calydonian Boar Hunt – the cause.
Now Sicily, the land of Mount Etna, held the weary Daedalus, and King Cocalus, regarded as peacable, had taken up arms, against Minos, in defence of the suppliant: and thanks to Theseus, Athens now had ceased to pay Crete the sorrowful levy. The temple was wreathed with flowers, and the Athenians called out to warlike Minerva, to Jupiter and to the other gods, honouring them with gifts, and the blood of sacrificial offerings, and the contents of their incense-boxes. Far-wandering fame had spread the name of Theseus through all the cities of the Argolis, and the peoples inhabiting wealthy Achaia begged for his help in their great trouble, and Calydon, as a suppliant, despite having Meleager, asked his help, with anxious prayers.
The reason for their asking was a wild boar, servant and avenging power of Diana's aggression. King Oeneus of Calydon, they say, made offerings, from the successful harvests of a full year, of the first fruits of the crops to Ceres, of wine to Bacchus, "the deliverer from care," of libations of flowing oil, from the olives, to golden Minerva. The honour they desire was paid to all the gods, beginning with the rural deities: only the daughter of Latona's altar was passed by: neglected, it is said, and left without its incense. Anger even touches the gods. "I shall not suffer this without exacting punishment," she cried, "and, though not honoured, it will not be said that I was un-avenged." And the goddess, spurned, sent an avenging wild boar, over the Aetolian fields: grassy Epirus had none greater than it, and those of the island of Sicily were smaller. Its eyes glowed with bloodshot fire: its neck was stiff with bristles, and the hairs, on its hide, bristled stiffly like spear-shafts: just as a palisade stands, so the hairs stood like tall spears. Hot foam flecked the broad shoulders, from its hoarse grunting. Its tusks were the size of an Indian elephant's: lightning came from its mouth: and the leaves were scorched, by its breath. Now it trampled the young shoots of the growing crops, now cut short the ripeness, longed-for by the mournful farmer, and scythed down the corn in ear. The granaries and threshing floors waited for the promised harvest in vain. Heavy clusters of grapes were brought down along with the trailing vines, and fruit and branch of the evergreen olives. It rages among the cattle too. Neither the herdsmen and dogs, nor their own fierce bulls can defend the herds. The people scatter, and only count themselves safe behind city walls.
At last Meleager and a handpicked group of men gather, longing for glory: Castor and Polydeuces, the Dioscuri, twin sons of Tyndareus and Leda, one son famous for boxing, the other for horsemanship: Jason who built the first ship: Theseus and Pirithoüs, fortunate in friendship: Plexippus and Toxeus, the two sons of Thestius, uncles of Meleager: Lynceus and swift Idas, sons of Aphareus: Caeneus, once a woman: warlike Leucippus: Acastus, famed for his javelin: Hippothoüs: Dryas: Phoenix, Amyntor's son: Eurytus and Cleatus, the sons of Actor: and Phyleus, sent by Elis.
Telamon was there, and Peleus, father of the great Achilles: with Admetus, the son of Pheres, and Iolaüs from Boeotia were Eurytion, energetic in action, and Echion unbeaten at running: and Lelex from Locria, Panopeus, Hyleus, and daring Hippasus: Nestor, still in the prime of life: and those that Hippocoön sent, with Enaesimus, from ancient Amyclae: Laërtes, Penelope's father-in-law with Ancaeus of Arcady: Mopsus, the shrewd son of Ampyx: and Amphiaraüs, son of Oecleus, not yet betrayed by his wife, Eriphyle.
And Atalanta, the warrior girl of Tegea, the glory of Arcadia's woods, with a polished brooch clasping the neck of her garment, and her hair simply done, caught in a single knot. An ivory quiver, holding her arrows, that rattled as she moved, hung from her left shoulder, and her left hand held the bow. So she was dressed: as for her face, you might truly say, the virgin was there, in a boy, and a boy, in the girl. The moment he saw her, that moment, Meleager, the hero of Calydon, desired her, though the gods might refuse it, devoured by secret fires. "O, happy the man, whom she might think worthy!" he said. Neither time nor honour allowed him further words: the greater task of the greater conflict urged him on.