Saturday, October 22, 2022

Atalanta's End: Lactantius Placidius 10.11

Atalanta, Schoenei filia, cum de coniugio sciscitata esset et monita nulli iungeretur, quia omnium virginum pernicissima erat, petentibus procris legem posuit, eius coniugem futuram, qui se cursu pedum antecessisset, victo autem necem statuit. quam cum Hippomenes, Megarei filius ex progenie Neptuni, incenso amore diligeret nec mortem certaminis expavesceret, Venerem in malis habuit auxilio. nam ex Tamaseno agro ei tria mala aurea donavit, qui in insula est Cypri; ex iisque in cursu proiceret virigni; futurum enim, ut cupiditate eius tardaretur, dum peteret. cuius monitu Hippomenes consecutus victoriam postea ingratus adversus deam cognitus est, itaque inpulsu eiusdem deae, Matris deum lucum dum transgrediuntur, quam Echion terrae filius sacraverat, non tenuerunt cupiditatem: quin adversus religionem in sacrato concubuere solo. quam ob causam a dea in leones sunt conversi.

--Lactantius Placidius, Qui dicitur Narrationes Fabularum Ovidiarum  Liber 10 Fabula 11 

When Atalanta learned about marriage and was warned to never marry, she set up a test for all of her suitors. Since she was the fastest woman alive, she said that she would marry anyone who won a race against her, but would kill anyone she outran.  Hippomenes, a descendant of Neptune, fell in love with her, but wasn’t worried about potentially dying competing against her; he had Venus’ help in his deception. For the goddess of love had given him three golden apples from Tamasenus (located on her island of Cyprus). While racing with Atalanta, he tossed them in front of her, and she lost time in picking each of them up. Although he won Atalanta’s hand with the goddess Venus’ help, Hippomenes did show any gratitude for it, and so the goddess contrived for him to meet his end. While he and Atalanta were travelling through the grove of Cybele (an area consecrated to the goddess by Echion, the son of the Earth), they disrespected the sanctity of the region by hooking up on sacred ground. Because of this, the goddess transformed them into lions.  



Name:  Lactantius Placidus

Date:  5th or 6th century CE

Works:  Abridgement of Ovids’ Metamorphoses

Commentary on Statius’ Thebaid





 Little is known about this Christian author, but he is known for his commentary on Statius’ Thebaid and an abridgement of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.


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