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Atalanta

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This story is written by Ovid, the Latin writer.

Deserted by her cruel and disappointed father, Iasus (also called Schoenius) left a tiny, wailing baby lying on a mountainside to die. However, Iasus's scheme, resulting from his anger at a daughter rather than a son, was unsuccessful. A she-bear came across the infant, adopted her, and treated her as she would her own cub.

Six years later, when Atalanta was still a little girl, kind hunters found her while she was picking berries. They took her in and taught her the ways of the human world. The trained her in many things, including hunting, in which she excelled. She eventually became more than their equal in all things involved in the life of a hunter.

One day as Atalanta was off hunting, two Centaurs, Rhoecus and Hylaeus, caught sight of her and followed her through the woods. Her keen hearing and eagle-like eyes enabled her to spot her pursuers before it was too late. She shot one arrow and killed both of the Centaurs with ease.

The great Calydonian Boar Hunt occurred as a result of a punishment to King Oeneus, who had forgotten to make a sacrifice to Artemis at the harvest time. In revenge, Artemis sent a huge boar to ravage the kingdom. A hunt was planned to get rid of the monster. When the day of the hunt came, Atalanta emerged from the wood dressed in simple clothing, but beaming with pride. The only woman in the hunt, she was looked upon unfavorably by the manly group of hunters summoned by the king. However, Meleager, Oeneus's son, thought her the loveliest creature he'd ever beheld. When the men protested her participation in the hunt, Meleager argued until the men agreed to let Atalanta join the hunt. The horrible boar killed three men before it was struck by Atalanta's arrow and wounded. Meleager finished off the beast and in appreciation, the other hunters gave Atalanta the boar skin as a souvenir of her bravery and skill. Meleager's relatives thought he should be given the skin and argued and threatened the girl and her family. Lashing out in fury, Meleager tried to defend the woman he loved, but the fight led to his death.

After Meleager's death, Atalanta had many adventures. She competed in several different hunting contests and went sailing around with the Argonauts. She had many suitors, but didn't really want any. To avoid having to marry, she challenged any suitor to a footrace. But no man could beat her.

Aphrodite, as always, was offended at any woman who rejected the opposite sex. She wanted desperately to make Atalanta fall in love and so she chose a bright young man for her to love. Hippomenes was his name and he was given three golden apples. On the day of his race for her hand, Hippomenes and Atalanta stood waiting at the starting line. Hippomenes had the golden apples in his hand. As they began to run, Hippomenes rolled the apples one by one along the ground in Atalanta's path, so they would catch her eye and she would stoop to pick them up. Her pauses gave Hippomenes just enough time to get one stride ahead of her. He won the race and she was now in his possession. They had a child together, Parthenopaeus, who was one of the Seven against Thebes. As the result of a dispute with Zeus, the couple is believed to have been turned into lions.

     
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