I find myself intrigued when the Gods send Heroism disguised as disaster. Last night, I was reading the myth of Meleager and the Kalydonian Boar. The basic idea of the story was that Artemis became upset with the fact that Her worship was being neglected in Kalydon, a City in the Greek region of Aetolia, and so She sent a powerful, gigantic boar to ravage the land and prevent people from carrying on their daily lives. At least, this is the beast's origin that this particular myth provides. Meleager and some other local hunters including the woman Atalanta, took up the job of tracking down and killing the beast once and for all, which they successfully did at the hands of Atalanta and Meleager who led the party and delivered the final blow.
Meleager became a venerated Hero after His death, not just because of killing the boar, but because of his unusual termination. At the time of His birth, the Fate Atropos connected His life with the wood that was burning on the hearth, presumably in His home, and said that His life would end once the wood was burned up. His mother preserved the wood for as long as She could, but after the Kalydonian Boar hunt, She realized that her two brothers, who had also joined the hunt, had been killed by Meleager. He originally wanted to give the victory of the hunt to Atalanta because She first struck the beast, thus weakening it, but the brothers violently contested on the basis of gender, forcing Meleager to take their lives in defense. Nevertheless, His mother wasn't having it. She burned up the last of the wood, bringing His life to an end. Overcome with grief after realizing what she had done, she committed suicide, which is another moral common in Greek myth; don't be hasty or act out of emotion.
But what I got to thinking about last night was not the Heroic status of Meleager itself, or the hunt for the boar generally. My philosophies were on the intentions of Artemis during this time. She sent the boar, knowing that men and women would assemble to save their people and region from it. She knew they would come together to do something great or beyond everyday human feats. Artemis didn't have to let them kill the creature, but She did provided that they could. In fact, She could have struck down all the hunters, and for that matter, all of the civilization with a single shot from Her bow. There's no real contest between Gods and men. Yet, She allowed the boar and the people it impacted to do battle with one another, knowing that the humans would come out on top and realize that they had reached yet another great achievement in their existence.
Perhaps sometimes the curses that the Gods send, aren't curses at all, but opportunities. Or maybe there are times when we have to face being challenged, disfavored, or thrown to the bottom of the totem before we find the humility and motivation inside of us to pull ourselves back up to the Gods and human greatness again. It is possible that all of us, at some point, will have our own Kalydonian Boar in our lives, for many different reasons. The only choice is: slay or pay? We're not meant to sit at home and grow old, having nothing in our wake. We're destined to do all that we are capable of, to be as great as we can. And sometimes, the Gods move us off our butts so that it can happen.
In the Goodness of the Gods,