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Atalanta

Atalanta ("balanced") is a character from ancient Greek mythology. She was from Arcadia, a daughter of Iasus or Schoeneus and Clymene.

Her father (Iasus or Schoeneus) wanted a son, so when Atalanta was born, he exposed her on a mountaintop. Artemis sent a female bear to suckle her and she was eventually raised by a group of hunters.

Atalanta participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar and drew first blood, through Meleager killed it. Since she had done the first injury, Meleager gave her the hide. According to one account of the hunt, Hylaeus and Rhaecus, two centaurs, tried to rape Atalanta. Meleager killed them. Also during the hunt, Eurypylus insulted her. He was killed by Meleager.

After Atalanta participated in the hunt and received the pelt, her father, Iasus or Schoeneus, claimed her as his offspring and wanted her to get married.

She was a very beautiful maiden who did not particularly want to get married. In order to get her a husband, her father made a deal with Atalanta that she would marry anybody who could beat her in a foot race. Atalanta happily took the deal, as she was extremely fleet of foot.

She outran many, many suitors. The one that finally became her husband accomplished this through brain, not speed. Hippomenes (also known as Melanion) knew that he could not win a fair race with Atalanta, so he prayed to Aphrodite for help. She gave him three golden apples and told him to drop them one at a time to distract Atalanta. Sure enough, she quit running long enough to get each golden apple. It took all three apples and all of his speed, but Hippomenes was finally successful, winning the race and Atalanta's hand.

Atalanta was one of the Argonauts, and the only female among them. Some authors claim Jason wouldn't allow Atalanta on the ship because she was a woman. Others claim she was an Argonaut and was injured in the battle at Colchis and was healed by Medea.

Atalanta and Hippomenes (or Ares or Meleager) were the parents of Parthenopeus, who participated in the campaign of the Seven Against Thebes.

Atalanta and Hippomenes were turned into lions by Zeus or Cybele after having sex in one of his/her temples.

The episode relating to the Calydonian boar hunt was reprised by Swinburne in his verse tragedy Atalanta in Calydon[?].



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