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Story summary: Actaeon

Actaeon is a skilful hunter and a follower of the goddess Artemis. One day, after a successful morning’s hunting, he wanders away from his companions and stumbles upon a pool where Artemis is bathing. Seen naked by Actaeon, Artemis is filled with rage and throws a handful of water at him. As soon as the water droplets touch Actaeon he is transformed into a stag — only his mind remains human. When he tries to run away, the hunter becomes the hunted as his own hounds chase him down and tear him to pieces.

Key themes

The ethics of hunting — is there a difference between hunting for survival and hunting for pleasure?
Deliberate wrong-doing and human error — are they both 'crimes'?
Crime and punishment — should punishment match the crime?
Speech and silence
At what point do we cease to be human?

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