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Definition of ATALANTA
: a fleet-footed huntress in Greek mythology who challenges her suitors to a race and is defeated by Hippomenes when she stops to pick up three golden apples he has dropped
Origin of ATALANTA
Latin, from Greek Atalantē
First Known Use: 14th century
Atalanta, Greek marble statue; in the Louvre—Giraudon/Art Resource, New York
In Greek mythology, a swift-footed huntress. Born in Boeotia or Arcadia, she was left to die at birth but was suckled by a bear. As an adult she took part in the famous Calydonian boar hunt and drew first blood. She offered to marry any man who could outrun her in a race, but the losers were required to pay with their lives. One contestant, Hippomenes (or Milanion), obtained three golden apples from Aphrodite to carry in the race. As he dropped them, Atalanta stooped to pick them up, and thus lost the race. The two were later turned into lions after they desecrated a shrine to Cybele or Zeus.