Study Guide

The Calydonian Boar Hunt Humankind and the Natural World

Humankind and the Natural World

Like we talk about in our "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section, this whole story could be seen as representing all of humanity's struggle against wild nature. The trouble starts when Oenius forgets to give Artemis, the goddess of the wilderness, her sacrifice. The goddess, herself, is a symbol of all of nature, and the boar that she sends to plague Calydon is a symbol of her wrath. In some way, the story seems to be pointing out that man had better be respectful of nature, or else it will seriously mess you up. Notice that even though the hunting party slays the boar, several of them including the hero, Meleager, end up dead by the end of the tale.

Questions About Humankind and the Natural World

  1. Which figures in the story can be seen as representing the natural world?
  2. Describe Atalanta and Meleager's relationship with nature. Are they enemies, pals, or something in between? Explain your answer.
  3. How does the motif of hunting jive with this theme?
  4. Do you think the moral of the story is that nature is a thing to be conquered, or a thing we should respect and live harmoniously with? Explain your answer.
  5. Human civilization is often thought of as being apart from nature, but in what ways can it be seen as being an integral part of it?

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