There is no shortage of famous Greek goddesses. You’ve probably heard of the most famous ones: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera, and Demeter, etc., and their amazing powers. But you don’t have to be an immortal being to make a legend of yourself. I’m living proof.
I’m Atalanta, the legendary mortal huntress and athlete from ancient Greece, known for my speed, strength, and hunting skills. I’m an enduring symbol of overcoming adversity and misogynistic stereotypes. And trust me, I’ve had my fair share.
When I was born, my father left me in the forest to die because he wanted a son instead of a daughter. Ouch. Luckily, a she-bear found me and nursed me until I was discovered by a pack of hunters who took me in. I grew up to be a skilled huntress and athlete, as well as extremely beautiful–a combination that terrified men. My speed and strength were so renowned, I was asked by the famed hero Jason to join his crew of Argonauts as the only female member.
I really got to prove myself when the moon goddess, Artemis, sent a boar to ravage the land of Calydon after its king, Oeneus, failed to pay tribute to her during the harvest. The boar tormented people and destroyed the land, making it impossible for crops to grow. The king’s solution was to organize a big boar-hunting competition. He invited all the best hunters and heroes in Greece to participate, including all the Argonauts, and me. The men had heard about me, and boy, were they intimidated. Almost all of them were afraid to compete against me and complained, saying I shouldn’t be allowed to join. But Meleager, the son of Oeneus, told them to back off. It turns out he had a thing for me.
It was an intense hunt. Finally, as everyone closed in on the boar, I wounded it with my arrow and Meleager killed the beast. He offered me the head and skin as a token of love. I was touched. Meleager’s uncles, however, were not. They were infuriated that he had given the prize to a woman. They argued that I shouldn’t have been allowed to compete in the first place, since I was not a man. A fight broke out, and in a rage, Meleager killed his uncles. This did not go over well with their sister, Meleager’s mother. She took a log that was tied to Meleager’s life and placed it on the fire, fulfilling a prophecy that caused his instant death. I guess Meleager and I were just not meant to be.
Later, I paid a visit to the Oracle of Delphi. She told me marriage would be my downfall, so I’d better avoid it. That wasn’t an issue with me. After all, I was a loyal follower of Artemis and had sworn my virginity. I went on my way and soon after, was reunited with my father–yes, the one who abandoned me at birth. He told me to get married already like a good girl. I probably should have just walked away at that point, but, you know, I was feeling extra sassy. I said I would marry any man who could beat me in a footrace.
On hearing this, a lot of men tried–and failed. Until a guy named Hippomenes stepped onto the scene. And he wasn’t planning to play fair. He’d gotten a secret weapon from Aphrodite, the goddess of love who wasn’t cool with people staying virgins. After the race began and I pulled into the lead, he tossed a golden apple onto the track ahead of me. It was golden. And shiny. I couldn’t help myself and stopped to pick it up. Hippomenes passed me. I sped up, gaining the lead again, but then came another golden apple. I had to pick up that one too. And another.
Yeah, I lost the race. Being a woman of my word, I married Hippomenes. Our time together was short-lived, though. Just like the Oracle predicted, marriage led to my downfall. Hippomenes forgot to thank Aphrodite for her help, and she was duly miffed, causing him to become overcome by lust. On the way back to Hippomenes’ home, he and I started getting it on in the temple of Zeus–a big no-no. As punishment, the gods changed us into lions.
So, my story has kind of a bummer ending, but don’t let it get you down. I’m still a popular symbol of female empowerment. Nowadays, I’ve been the subject of numerous books, television shows, and films. In 2018, I was even featured in the popular video game “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.” Despite my penchant for bad luck, my achievements have outweighed the bad, making me an ever-popular role model for young girls and women who are determined to overcome misogynistic stereotypes.