previous next

[2]

Lycurgus had sons, Ancaeus, Epochus, Amphidamas, and Iasus,1 by Cleophyle or Eurynome. And Amphidamas had a son Melanion and a daughter Antimache, whom Eurystheus married. And Iasus had a daughter Atalanta2 by Clymene, daughter of Minyas. This Atalanta was exposed by her father, because he desired male children; and a she bear came often and gave her suck, till hunters found her and brought her up among themselves. Grown to womanhood, Atalanta kept herself a virgin, and hunting in the wilderness she remained always under arms. The centaurs Rhoecus and Hylaeus tried to force her, but were shot down and killed by her. She went moreover with the chiefs to hunt the Calydonian boar, and at the games held in honor of Pelias she wrestled with Peleus and won. Afterwards she discovered her parents, but when her father would have persuaded her to wed, she went away to a place that might serve as a racecourse, and, having planted a stake three cubits high in the middle of it, she caused her wooers to race before her from there, and ran herself in arms; and if the wooer was caught up, his due was death on the spot, and if he was not caught up, his due was marriage. When many had already perished, Melanion came to run for love of her, bringing golden apples from Aphrodite,3 and being pursued he threw them down, and she, picking up the dropped fruit, was beaten in the race. So Melanion married her. And once on a time it is said that out hunting they entered into the precinct of Zeus, and there taking their fill of love were changed into lions.4 But Hesiod and some others have said that Atalanta was not a daughter of Iasus, but of Schoeneus; and Euripides says that she was a daughter of Maenalus, and that her husband was not Melanion but Hippomenes.5 And by Melanion, or Ares, Atalanta had a son Parthenopaeus, who went to the war against Thebes.6


1 Compare Paus. 8.4.10, who mentions only the first two of these four sons.

2 For the story of Atalanta, and how her suitor won her by the bait of the golden apples, see Theocritus ii i.40-42; Hyginus, Fab. 185; Ov. Met. 10.560-680; Serv. Verg. A. 3.113; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 14, 91 (First Vatican Mythographer 39; Second Vatican Mythographer 47). As Apollodorus points out, there was a difference of opinion as to the name of Atalanta's father. According to Callimachus, Hymn to Artemis 215 and the First and Second Vatican Mythographers (Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 54, 124), he was Iasius; according to Ael., Var. Hist. xiii.1, he was Iasion. Prop. i.1.10 seems to agree with Apollodorus that her father was Iasus, for he calls Atalanta by the patronymic Iasis. But according to Diod. 4.34.4, Diod. 4.65.4, Paus. 8.35.10, Hyginus, and Ovid, her father was Schoeneus. Hesiod also called him Schoeneus (see Apollodorus, below), and the later writers just mentioned probably accepted the name on his authority. According to Euripides, as we learn from Apollodorus (see below), the name of the heroine's father was Maenalus. The suckling of Atalanta by the bear, and the unsuccessful assault on her by the two centaurs, Hylaeus and Rhoecus, are described, with a wealth of picturesque detail, by Aelian (Ael., Var. Hist. xiii.1), who does not, however, mention her wedding race. The suitor who won the coy maiden's hand by throwing down the golden apples is called Hippomenes by most writers (Theocritus, Hyginus, Ovid, Servius, First and Second Vatican Mythographers). Herein later writers may have followed Euripides, who, as we learn from Apollodorus (see below), also called the successful suitor Hippomanes. But by Prop. i.1.9 and Ovid, Ars Am. ii.188 the lover is called Milanion, which nearly agrees with the form Melanion adopted by Apollodorus. Pausanias seems also to have agreed with Apollodorus on this point, for he tells us (Apollod. 3.12.9) that Parthenopaeus, who was a son of Atalanta (see below), had Melanion for his father.

3 According to Ov. Met. 10.644ff. the goddess brought the golden apples from her sacred field of Tamasus, the richest land in Cyprus; there in the midst of the field grew a wondrous tree, its leaves and branches resplendent with crackling gold, and from its boughs Aphrodite plucked three golden apples. But, according to others, the apples came from the more familiar garden of the Hesperides. See Serv. Verg. A. 3.113; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 14 (First Vatican Mythographer 39).

4 The sacrilege and its punishment are recorded also by Hyginus, Fab. 185; Serv. Verg. A. 3.113; and the First Vatican Mythographer (Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. p. 14, (Fab. 39). The reason why the lovers were turned into a lion and a lioness for their impiety is explained by the ancient mythographers to be that lions do not mate with each other, but with leopards, so that after their transformation the lovers could never repeat the sin of which they had been guilty. For this curious piece of natural history they refer to Pliny's Natural History; but all that Pliny, in the form in which he has come down to us, appears to affirm on this subject is, that when a lioness forgot her dignity with a leopard, her mate easily detected and vigorously punished the offence (Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii.43). What would have happened if the lion had similarly misbehaved with a leopardess is not mentioned by the natural historian.

5 See above, note on p. 399. It may have been in his lost tragedy, Meleager, that Euripides named the father and husband of Atalanta. She is named in one of the existing fragments (No. 530) of the play. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 525ff.

6 See above, Apollod. 3.6.3. According to others, the father of Parthenopaeus was neither Melanion nor Ares, but Meleager. See Hyginus, Fab. 70, 99, and 270; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 54, 125 (First Vatican Mythographer 174; Second Vatican Mythographer 144).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Sir James George Frazer)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Thebes (Greece) (1)
Cyprus (Cyprus) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (15 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: