The young man took to hunting in the forests of Thessaly with his dogs. One day when he was hunting by the Pelion Mountains, he came upon the goddess Artemis who was bathing with some nymphs. The young hunter was taken by the goddesses' beauty and could only stand and stare. When Artemis caught sight of him she was furious and turned him into a deer. Actaeus was then attacked and killed by his own dogs who did not recognise him. The dogs then searched for their master and when they could not find him returned howling to Chiron's cave. Chiron pitied them and created a statue of Actaeus thus calming the dogs.
Actaeus and Artemis have been the subject of paintings by Titian, Thomas Gainsborough, Giuseppe Cesari and others.