ATALANTA, in Greek legend, the name of two Greek heroines, (1) The Arcadian Atalanta was the daughter of Iasius or Iasion and Clymene. At her birth, she had been exposed on a hill, her father having expected a son. At first she was suckled by a she-bear, and then saved by huntsmen, among whom she grew up to be skilled with the bow, swift, and fond of the chase, like the virgin goddess Artemis. At the Calydonian boar-hunt her arrows were the first to hit the monster, for which its head and hide were given her by Meleager. At the funeral games of Pelias, she wrestled with Peleus, and won. For a long time she remained true to Artemis and rejected all suitors, but Meilanion at last gained her love by his persistent devotion. She was the mother of Parthenopaeus, one of the Seven against Thebes (Apollodorus iii. 9; Hyginus, Fab. 99). (2) The Boeotian Atalanta was the daughter of Schoeneus. She was famed for her running, and would only consent to marry a suitor who could outstrip her in a race, the consequence of failure being death. Hippomenes, before starting, had obtained from Aphrodite three golden apples, which he dropped at intervals, and Atalanta, stopping to pick them up, fell behind. Both were happy at the result; but forgetting to thank the goddess for the apples, they were led by her to a religious crime, and were transformed into lions by the goddess Cybele (Ovid, Metam. x. 560; Hyginus, Fab. 185). The characteristics of these two heroines (frequently confounded) point to their being secondary forms of the Arcadian Artemis.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)