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Ἀταλάντη). A Greek heroine of the type of Artemis (q.v.). There were two slightly different versions of her story, one current in Arcadia and the other in Boeotia.


The Arcadian Version. Atalanta, daughter of Zeus and Clymené, was exposed by her father, who had desired male offspring only. She was suckled by a bear, until she was found and brought up by a party of hunters. Under their care she grew up to be a huntress—keen, swift, and beautiful. She took part in the Calydonian boarhunt, was the first who struck the boar, and received from Meleager the head and skin of the beast as the prize of victory. (See Meleager.) She is also associated with the voyage of the Argonauts. She turned a deaf ear to the entreaties of her numerous suitors; but at last she propitiated the wrath of Aphrodité by returning the faithful love of the beautiful Milanion, who had followed her persistently, and suffered and struggled for her. Their son was Parthenopaeus, one of the Seven against Thebes. Swinburne's poem, Atalanta in Calydon, gives a magnificent setting to the story.


The Boeotian Version. Atalanta was the daughter of Schoenens, son of Athamas, and distinguished for beauty and swiftness of foot. An oracle warned her against marriage, and she accordingly lived a lonely life in the forest. She met the addresses of her suitors by challenging them to race with her, overtaking them in the race and spearing them in the back. She was at length beaten, however, by Hippomenes, who during the race dropped on the ground three golden apples given him by Aphrodité. Atalanta stooped down to pick up the apples, and thus lost the race. Hippomenes forgot to render thanks to Aphrodité, and the goddess in anger caused the pair in their passion to profane the sanctuary of Cybelé, where they were changed into lions. See W. S. Landor's Hippomenes and Atalanta.

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