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Atalanta's Childhood

When the hero, Atalanta was born, her father, Iasus abandoned her on a hilltop to die. He was furious that his wife, Clymene had not given him a son. A mother bear, who had happened across the infant, brought Atalanta to her den and fed the baby. When two hunters, Telamon and his friend Saurus passed by and saw Atalanta, they took her away and raised her up as their own. As Atalanta grew up, she became a skilled huntress and a fast runner. She practiced everyday hunting and running.

The Prophecy

When Atalanta was a young lady, Telamon and Saurus went to Apollo's shrine in Delphi, where the oracle was. The oracle stated that Atalanta wasn't to serve Hestia or Athena. She was to serve Artemis and to forever hunt, run and stay a maiden. No one could protest to Artemis's words, so from that day on Atalanta helped with hunting for food. She barely stayed in the little cottage she now called home.

The Calydonian Boar Hunt

During a ceremonial meal, the King of Calydon, King Oeneus forgot to sacrifice food for Artemis, who became enraged. To punish the king, Artemis sent down a HUGE boar. The boar raged through crops, fields, and villages destroying everything in its path. To get rid of this terror, King Oeneus called in noble huntsmen from far and wide. Much to the king's surprise Atalanta, a female, had came to join the hunt. The reward was the skin and tusks of the boar and went to the person who killed it. Many men were rather reluctant for Atalanta to join. Thanks to Meleager, the king's son, insisted that Atalanta was allowed to participate.

Atalanta was the first to shoot the arrow that hit the boar, but Meleager had been the one to cause mortal damage and kill the wild boar. The skin was given to Meleager, who insisted on giving the skin to Atalanta. The uncles of Meleager declared that the skin would go to them by right of blood. Out of rage, Meleager killed his uncles and returned the skin to Atalanta. His mother, Althaea, was so depressed of the death of her brothers, that she through a log into the fire to burn to ash. The log had Meleager's life force tied to it and when it was burned, it slowly killed Meleager. The log was given to Althaea by the Fates.

The Races

By now, Atalanta was famous for receiving the boar skin that everyone wanted to be near her. Naturally, King Iasus wanted Atalanta back. Atalanta agreed to move back with her father if she was allowed to stay a single. Soon, when suitors who wanted Atalanta's hand in marriage began to push against the father's door, he changed his mind. Atalanta was to race each of her suitors and whoever won would marry her. However, if the man lost, he would be executed. Atalanta and her father laughed at this, because no one could beat Atalanta in running. Soon, the suitors slowly disappeared and the heads began piling up.
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Three Golden Apples

Melanion, one of Atalanta's suitors, knew that he didn't have a chance against her. He decided to ask Aphrodite for help. Aphrodite, who disliked single women in general helped Melanion. She gave him three golden apples that were irresistable and smelled delicous. She commanded Melanion to use these apples during the race aginst Atalanta. She gave no clue as to what he should do, but said to follow his heart. As Melanion walked away, he felt the apples grow light and heavy, light and heavy.
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Melanion Outwits Atalanta

When Atalanta first saw Melanion, she was disappointed that she would have to kill him. By the time the race began, Atalanta was ready to win. She gave Melanion a head start, but soon passed him. That was when Melanion threw the first apple slightly on the side of the path on which they were racing on. Atalanta stooped to pick it up, thinking that she could make up for the lost time. Th apple was heavy and slowed her down slightly. After awhile, she passed Melanion again. This time, Melanion threw the golden apple even farther into the underbrush. Once again, Atalanta stopped to look for the apple. After finding the apple, she set to race against him. This time, it was harder than ever, since two golden apples, one in each palm, weighed alot. She passed Melanion just before the finish line. Desperate, Melanion threw the apple all the way into the underbrush and prayed with all his might to Aphrodite. When Atalanta emerged from the side of the path with the golden apple in hand, Melanion just passed the finish line.

A Bad Idea

Melanion was so overjoyed that he had won the race and had Atalanta's hand in marriage. When Melanion and Atalanta was inside Zeus's temple, since he loved Atalanta so much, they slept together in Zeus's temple. This infuriated Zeus, since doing such a thing was a disgrace. In his anger, Zeus turned both Atalanta and Melanion into lions. However, Melanion and Atalanta still hunted and stayed together till death.

Symbols

Atalanta's symbols represented her independence and stubborness to break her oath with Artemis. In general, Atalanta's symbols include golden apples, a bow and arrows, and wind. The animals that represent her is the lionand she-bear. Also, plants the represent Atalanta are apples, rhodedendrons, dandelions, birch, and geraniums. Although it's hard to believe, Atalanta is represented also with minerals such as gold, tiger's eye, amber, ivory, topaz, iron, and yellow jade.
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