Atalanta was the daughter of Iasus. King Iasus wanted a son and when Atalanta was born, he ordered a servent to leave her on a mountaintop to die.
A she bear found the baby and nursed her, kept young Atalanta warm. Later she was found by hunters who raised her. The baby grew up to into a be an active young girl. She learned to fight and hunt as any man or animal would. Having grown up in the wilderness, Atalanta became a fierce hunter and was always happy. She took an oath of virginity to the goddess Artemis.
What one of the things Atalanta is most well known for is the Calydonian Boar Hunt. My previous post talks about Meleager and the Boar hunt. This was the beginning of Atalantas adventures. Some stories say that she joined the Argonauts. We hear of how she attended Jason’s uncle Pelias funeral. Atalanta competed in the funeral games and beat the great hero Peleus, who would soon be the father of Achilles.
After the funeral games she discovered who her biological parents and they her. She went to live with them. Her father wanted to make peace, seeing how his daughter was more boyish than girl. She had many suitors, but did not accept any one of them. She then declared she would marry whoever could beat her in a foot race.
Many men raced her, but no matter how fast they were, she was always faster. Many of them prayed to Ares, Hermes, and other gods, but they all lost. One young man had a different plan. The young man, Hippomenes prayed to Aphrodite and she gifted him three beautiful golden apples to distract Atalanta during the foot race.
On the day of his race with her they had a swift start. As she started to pull ahead Hippomenes tossed an apple to the side. She was so entranced that she went to pick it up, thinking she could make up for the lost time. Again as she began to pass Hippomenes he tossed the second apple farther away. She went after the apple again. As they neared the finish line he threw the final apple as hard. She ran after it. As she picked it up and started to run back Hippomenes passsd the finish line. She was his. Her days in the wilderness were over.
Later in their life after they had a son, Parthenopaiod, Zeus turned Atalanta and Hippomenes into lions after they made love together in one of his temples. Other stories say that Aphrodite changed them into lions because they did not acknowledge that she got them together.