Atalanta

Atalanta

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Atalanta is a character in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

.

Legend


Atalanta was the daughter of Iasus
Iasus
In Greek mythology, Iasus or Iasius was the name of several individuals:*Iasus, king of Argos. His genealogy is confused; according to different sources, he was:**Son of Phoroneus, brother of Agenor and Pelasgus...

 (or Mainalos or Schoeneus
Schoeneus
In Greek mythology, Schoeneus was the name of several individuals:#Schoeneus was a Boeotian king, the son of Athamas and Themisto. He was the father of Atalanta by Clymene.#Schoeneus was the son of Autonous and Hippodamia...

, according to Hyginus
Gaius Julius Hyginus
Gaius Julius Hyginus was a Latin author, a pupil of the famous Cornelius Alexander Polyhistor, and a freedman of Caesar Augustus. He was by Augustus elected superintendent of the Palatine library according to Suetonius' De Grammaticis, 20...

), a Boeotia
Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

n (according to Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

) or an Arcadia
Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

n princess (according to Apollodorus
Apollodorus
Apollodorus of Athens son of Asclepiades, was a Greek scholar and grammarian. He was a pupil of Diogenes of Babylon, Panaetius the Stoic, and the grammarian Aristarchus of Samothrace...

). She is often described as a goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

. Apollodorus
Apollodorus
Apollodorus of Athens son of Asclepiades, was a Greek scholar and grammarian. He was a pupil of Diogenes of Babylon, Panaetius the Stoic, and the grammarian Aristarchus of Samothrace...

 is the only one who gives an account of Atalanta’s birth and upbringing. King Iasus
Iasus
In Greek mythology, Iasus or Iasius was the name of several individuals:*Iasus, king of Argos. His genealogy is confused; according to different sources, he was:**Son of Phoroneus, brother of Agenor and Pelasgus...

 wanted a son; when Atalanta was born, he left her on a mountaintop to die. Some stories say that a she-bear suckled and cared for Atalanta until hunters found and raised her, and she learned to fight and hunt as a bear would. She was later reunited with her father.

Having grown up in the wilderness, Atalanta became a fierce hunter and was always happy. She took an oath of virginity
Virginity
Virginity refers to the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. There are cultural and religious traditions which place special value and significance on this state, especially in the case of unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth...

 to the goddess Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

; when two centaur
Centaur
In Greek mythology, a centaur or hippocentaur is a member of a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse...

s, Rhoikos and Hylaios, tried to rape her, Atalanta killed them.

Calydonian boar hunt



When Artemis was forgotten at a sacrifice
Sacrifice
Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to God or the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts...

 by King Oineus, she was angered and sent a wild boar that ravaged the land, men, and cattle and prevented crops from being sown. Atalanta joined Meleager
Meleager
In Greek mythology, Meleager was a hero venerated in his temenos at Calydon in Aetolia. He was already famed as the host of the Calydonian boar hunt in the epic tradition that was reworked by Homer....

 and many other famous heroes on a hunt for the boar. Many of the men were angry that a woman was joining them, but Meleager, though married, lusted for Atalanta, and so he persuaded them to include her. Several of the men were killed before Atalanta became the first to hit the boar and draw blood. After Meleager finally killed the boar with his spear, he awarded the skin to Atalanta. Meleager’s uncles, Plexippus and Toxeus, were angry and tried to take the skin from her. In revenge, Meleager killed his uncles. Wild with grief, Meleager's mother Althaea
Althaea (mythology)
Althaea was in Greek mythology the daughter of King Thestius and Eurythemis, and was sister to Leda, Hypermnestra, Iphiclus, Euippus, &c. She was also the wife of Oeneus, king of Calydon, and mother of five sons, Meleager, Melanippe , Troxeus, Thyreus, Clymenus, and two daughters, Deianeira and...

 threw a charmed log on the fire, which consumed Meleager's life as it burned.

Footrace


After the Calydonian boar hunt, Atalanta was rediscovered by her father. He wanted her to be wed, but Atalanta, uninterested in marriage, agreed to marry only if her suitors could outrun her in a footrace. Those who lost would be killed. King Schoeneus agreed, and many young men died in the attempt until Melanion (or Hippomenes) came along. Melanion asked the goddess Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

 for help, and she gave him three golden apples in order to slow Atalanta down. The apples were irresistible, so every time Atalanta got ahead of Melanion, he rolled an apple ahead of her, and she would run after it. In this way, Melanion won the footrace and came to marry Atalanta. Eventually they had a son Parthenopaios
Parthenopeus
For the hero of mediaeval romance, see Partonopeus de BloisIn Greek mythology, Parthenopeus was one of the Seven Against Thebes and the son of Atalanta and Hippomenes, Meleager, or Ares, or perhaps the son of Talaus. Promachus was his son...

, who was one of the Seven against Thebes
Seven Against Thebes
The Seven against Thebes is the third play in an Oedipus-themed trilogy produced by Aeschylus in 467 BC. The trilogy is sometimes referred to as the Oedipodea. It concerns the battle between an Argive army led by Polynices and the army of Thebes led by Eteocles and his supporters. The trilogy won...

. Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 (or Cybele
Cybele
Cybele , was a Phrygian form of the Earth Mother or Great Mother. As with Greek Gaia , her Minoan equivalent Rhea and some aspects of Demeter, Cybele embodies the fertile Earth...

, or Rhea
Rhea (mythology)
Rhea was the Titaness daughter of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth, in Greek mythology. She was known as "the mother of gods". In earlier traditions, she was strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, the Great Goddess, and was later seen by the classical Greeks as the mother of the Olympian...

) turned Atalanta and Melanion into lions after they made love together in one of his temples. Other accounts say that Aphrodite changed them into lions because they did not give her proper honor. She filled Melanion with lust and he stripped Atalanta in the temple. They were cursed by the priests after seeing Melanion stroking her large breasts as if they were Aphrodite's own (thus suggesting that her naked form was as beautiful as the goddess's). The belief at the time was that lions could not mate with their own species, only with leopards; thus Atalanta and Hippomenes would never be able to remain with one another.

Apollodorus
Apollodorus
Apollodorus of Athens son of Asclepiades, was a Greek scholar and grammarian. He was a pupil of Diogenes of Babylon, Panaetius the Stoic, and the grammarian Aristarchus of Samothrace...

 also says she wrestled and defeated Peleus
Peleus
In Greek mythology, Pēleus was a hero whose myth was already known to the hearers of Homer in the late 8th century BCE. Peleus was the son of Aeacus, king of the island of Aegina, and Endeïs, the oread of Mount Pelion in Thessaly; he was the father of Achilles...

 at the funeral games for Pelias
Pelias
Pelias was king of Iolcus in Greek mythology, the son of Tyro and Poseidon. His wife is recorded as either Anaxibia, daughter of Bias, or Phylomache, daughter of Amphion. He was the father of Acastus, Pisidice, Alcestis, Pelopia, Hippothoe, Asteropia, and Antinoe.Tyro was married to Cretheus...

.

In some versions of the quest for the Golden Fleece
Golden Fleece
In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-haired winged ram, which can be procured in Colchis. It figures in the tale of Jason and his band of Argonauts, who set out on a quest by order of King Pelias for the fleece in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus...

, Atalanta sailed with the Argonauts
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

 as the only female among them, suffered injury in the battle at Colchis
Colchis
In ancient geography, Colchis or Kolkhis was an ancient Georgian state kingdom and region in Western Georgia, which played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the Georgian nation.The Kingdom of Colchis contributed significantly to the development of medieval Georgian...

, and was healed by Medea
Medea
Medea is a woman in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, niece of Circe, granddaughter of the sun god Helios, and later wife to the hero Jason, with whom she had two children, Mermeros and Pheres. In Euripides's play Medea, Jason leaves Medea when Creon, king of...

. Other authors claim Jason
Jason
Jason was a late ancient Greek mythological hero from the late 10th Century BC, famous as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. He was the son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcus...

 would not allow a woman on the ship.

Cultural depictions


Handel wrote a 1736 opera about the character, Atalanta
Atalanta (opera)
Atalanta is an opera in three acts by George Frideric Handel composed in 1736. It is based upon the mythological female athlete, Atalanta, the libretto being derived from the book La Caccia in Etolia by Belisario Valeriani...

. In the 20th century, Robert Ashley
Robert Ashley
Robert Ashley , is a contemporary American composer, best known for his operas and other theatrical works, many of which incorporate electronics and extended techniques. Along with Gordon Mumma, Ashley was also a major pioneer of audio synthesis.Ashley was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan...

 also wrote an opera, Atalanta (Acts of God), with loose allegorical connections to the myth. Other works based on the myth include a play by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He invented the roundel form, wrote several novels, and contributed to the famous Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica...

 written (in the style of Greek tragedy) Atalanta in Calydon in 1865.

A version of Atalanta appears in three episodes of the television series Hercules: the Legendary Journeys
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is a television series, filmed in New Zealand and the United States. It was produced from 1995, and was very loosely based on the tales of the classical Greek culture hero Heracles...

: "Ares", "Let the Games Begin" and "If I Had a Hammer", played by Corinna 'Cory' Everson
Cory Everson
Corinna Kneuer , best known by her stage name Cory Everson, is an American female bodybuilding champion and actress. She won the Ms. Olympia contest six years in a row from 1984 to 1989.-Education:...

. In this version, she is a Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

n blacksmith
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

, as well as a superior athlete. An Atalanta action figure was included in the Hercules toy line.

Atalanta features prominently in the Hallmark mini-series of Jason and the Argonauts where she is played by Olga Sosnovska
Olga Sosnovska
Olga Sosnovska is a Polish-born UK/US-based actress.-Career:Sosnovska is perhaps best known in America for her role as Polish businesswoman Lena Kundera on the soap opera All My Children...

. This version depicts her as being a childhood friend of Jason's and abruptly joining the voyage despite his protests. On the Isle of Lemnos it is she who discovers Hypsipyle
Hypsipyle
In Greek mythology, Hypsipyle was the Queen of Lemnos, daughter of Thoas and Myrina.During her reign, Aphrodite cursed the women of the island for having neglected her shrines. All the women developed extreme body odor that made them repugnant to the men of the nation. The men took up with...

's plan and saves them. Later on in the story she confesses that she loves Jason but he views her as a sister, preferring Medea
Medea
Medea is a woman in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, niece of Circe, granddaughter of the sun god Helios, and later wife to the hero Jason, with whom she had two children, Mermeros and Pheres. In Euripides's play Medea, Jason leaves Medea when Creon, king of...

. Although she is unhappy at this rejection there are hints of a possible romance between her and a thief throughout the mini-series.

Animation


A cartoon version of the story of Atalanta's foot race was included in Free to Be... You and Me, a record album and illustrated songbook first released in November 1972, and later in 1974 as a television special. It is presented as the story of a Princess Atalanta, whose father the King wants her to marry. The story highlights Atalanta's role as a feminist figure, where she is a skilled athlete and gifted astronomer. She makes an agreement with her father that she will marry only if there is a man as fast as her, confident there is no such man as fast as her. Meanwhile, a man known only as 'Young John' is seen training, and after seeing he completed a track run before an hourglass
Hourglass
An hourglass measures the passage of a few minutes or an hour of time. It has two connected vertical glass bulbs allowing a regulated trickle of material from the top to the bottom. Once the top bulb is empty, it can be inverted to begin timing again. The name hourglass comes from historically...

 expired he feels confident enough to compete in the race. While she beats almost all the men in the foot race, she ties Young John, who is then awarded her hand in marriage by the King. (Contrary to the original story in which he cheated in the race by winning a goddesses favor) Young John refuses the prize, saying he could not possibly marry the princess unless she wished to marry him, and that he ran the race for the chance to get to know Atalanta.
Atalanta agrees that she could not possibly marry John without first going off to see the world. The two part as friends, going off to travel the world individually. The fable ends with, "Perhaps someday they’ll be married, and perhaps they will not. In any case, it is certain, they are both living happily ever after.”, reinforcing the feminist message of the tale.

In the animated television series Class of the Titans
Class of the Titans
Class of the Titans is a Canadian animated television series created by Studio B Productions and Nelvana. It premiered on December 31, 2005 at 5 pm ET/PT on Teletoon with a special 90-minute presentation of the first three episodes. The series aired in the United States on qubo from September...

, the character Atlanta is descended from Atalanta and has her super speed and hunting skills.

Video games


In the Nintendo Game Boy Advance game, Golden Sun
Golden Sun
Golden Sun, released in Japan as , is the first installment in a series of fantasy role-playing video games developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo. It was released in November 2001 for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance and was followed by a sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, in...

, and its sequel Golden Sun: The Lost Age
Golden Sun: The Lost Age
is the second installment of a series of role-playing video games developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo. The game was released in April 2003 for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, being a sequel to the Game Boy Advance Golden Sun...

, Atalanta (the Heavenly Huntress) is a second-level Jupiter element Summon that requires the use of 2 Jupiter Djinn to summon. She throws a volley of green arrows to all the enemies on screen. In the 1997 Sega Saturn
Sega Saturn
The is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console that was first released by Sega on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe...

/Sony Playstation game Herc's Adventures
Herc's Adventures
Herc's Adventures is the title of a video game released for the Sega Saturn and the PlayStation by LucasArts Entertainment in 1997.The overhead, action-adventure format was similar to Zombies Ate My Neighbors...

, she is a playable character. In the PC game, Poseidon (an expansion pack for Zeus: Master of Olympus), the player can summon Atalanta to fulfill quests given to the player by the Gods, namely Artemis. She will say the line "this city is as wonderful as a golden apple" if your city is especially liked. In the videogame Rise of the Argonauts
Rise of the Argonauts
Rise of the Argonauts is a 2008 third-person action adventure video game developed by Liquid Entertainment and published by Codemasters for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360...

, Atalanta appears as a headstrong huntress who was orphaned at a young age and raised by centaurs on the island of Saria. She joins the crew of the Argo and can assist the player, as Jason, with her archery. She appears as a minor hero in the game Age of Mythology.

Comic books


In 2000, the Belgian comic
Belgian comics
Belgian comics are a distinct subgroup in the comics history, and played a major role in the development of European comics, alongside France with whom they share a long common history...

 book artist and writer Crisse (Didier Chrispeels) introduced the first of a series of comic books featuring Atalanta, who is also abandoned by her father but saved by goddesses and nurtured by a bear. She is adopted by the hunters who killed the bear and becomes well known for her fast running. The series focuses mainly on her adventures with the Argonauts
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

 whom she accompanies as a means of later joining the Amazons
Amazons
The Amazons are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia...

. The series also features Jason
Jason
Jason was a late ancient Greek mythological hero from the late 10th Century BC, famous as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. He was the son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcus...

, Hercules
Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

, and other heroes and gods and goddesses of Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, though the emphasis is mainly on humour.

Atalanta is currently one of the featured characters in the comic Hercules: the Thracian Wars from Radical comics. In this version she is a lesbian
Lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

 and seeks death after being defeated by Hippomenes and the three "golden apples" in the legendary foot race and then deflowered. She kills Hippomenes and joins up with Hercules hoping for an honorable death to be forgiven by Artemis. Other notables include the familiar Meleager, Autolycus
Autolycus
In Greek mythology, Autolycus was a son of Hermes and Chione. He was the husband of Neaera, or according to Homer, of Amphithea...

, and Iolcaus.

In Peter David
Peter David
Peter Allen David , often abbreviated PAD, is an American writer of comic books, novels, television, movies and video games...

's run on The Incredible Hulk in the 1990s, there was a character named Atalanta who was a member of a group called The Pantheon. She and other members of this group were descendants of an immortal youth named Agamemnon and were named after characters in Greek mythology. This Atalanta was a brash, confident warrior-woman. Like the majority of her fellow Pantheon teammates, she had somewhat enhanced strength and agility. Her weapon was a bow that could shoot energy projectiles. She was the unwilling object of affection to a Troyjan (an alien race whose people have no noses) prince named Trauma.

External links