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Atalanta - Mythical Greek Huntress and Heroine

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Statue of Atalanta

Image source: WikimediaImages

Atalanta and the Tale of the Golden Apples

Atalanta appears in many different Greek stories and legends as she was a huntress, a fast runner and very beautiful. One story says that she was abandoned on a hillside as a baby by her father who only wanted boy children, and that she was found and brought up by local hunters.

The best known story about Atalanta is the tale of the golden apples. The story goes that she did not want to marry but eventually agreed to take any man who could beat her in a running race as a husband. However, if Atalanta won the race she would kill him. Many men tried to out-run her but failed and were subsequently killed.

One day Atalanta was challenged by a favourite of the goddess Aphrodite called Hippomenes who was sometimes known as Melanion. Aphrodite gave Hippomenes some beautiful golden apples and during the race he threw them down to the ground one by one. The apples were so lovely that Atalanta kept stopping to pick them up so Hippomenes won the race. It was not long afterwards that Hippomenes and Atalanta managed to offend Aphrodite and another goddess, and they were turned into a lion and lioness as a punishment.

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