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Atalanta (Ἀταλάντη) was the daughter of Shoeneus or Iasius and Klymene, the former who wanted a son so badly that when Atalanta was born, he left her on a mountain top to die. His wife hated this, tried to reason with her husband but he only threatened that she would soon join her daughter. She then hung herself. Artemis sent a "she-bear" to suckle Atalanta. When she was still young, a group of hunters found her and trained her to be an excellent huntress.

Argonauts

Whether she was or was not an Argonaut is very debatable.  There are sources that tell that when Jason was gathering Heroes for the quest that Atlanta came and volunteered to be an Argonaut.  Jason who wished the group to be all male heroes refused to let her join.

A second version tells the exact opposite that Jason solicited the assistance of Atlanta in the Quest for the Golden Fleece but refused to join not wanting to be around so many men on her own.

A third version tells that Jason asked Atlanta to join and concented.  If the third is true, there is not much written.about her as an Argonaut.

Kalydonian Boar Hunt

She was also the fastest runner in Greece. When the Kalydonian Boar, sent by Artemis when forgotten at a sacrifice by King Oineus, ravaged the land, destroyed men and cattle and prevented the crops from being sown, Atalanta joined Meleagros and many other famous heroes others on a hunt. Many of the men were angry to have a woman in the party, but Meleagros (who, though married, lusted after Atalanta) persuaded them to Atalanta. Several of the men were killed before Atalanta wounded the boar, allowing Meleagros to kill it with his spear. Since her strike drew first blood, Meleagros awarded the boar skin to Atalanta. Meleagros' uncles, Plexippus and Toxeus, were angry and tried to take the skin from Atalanta. In his anger, Meleagros killed his uncles, and Meleagros' mother in turn killed him for the murder of her brothers.

Footrace For Atlanta's Hand

After the Kalydonian 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 beat her in a foot race. Schoineus agreed to this condition, adding only that any man who failed the challenge be put to death. Many young men died in the attempt to win Atlanta

Melanion, a young man enamoured of Atalanta, asked the goddess Aphrodite for her aid. Aphrodite supplied him with three golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides. During the race, whenever Atalanta came on the verge of overtaking Melanion, he would roll one of these apples across the path, where Atalanta would feel compelled to pick it up, thus slowing her enough for Melanion to win both the race and the princess.

Melanion and Atalanta had a son, Parthenopaios, who was one of the Seven against Thebes. Other accounts say that Aphrodite changed them into lions because they did not give her proper honor.

Gallery

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