Sunday, June 25, 2023

Ace Champion Atalanta: Hyginus, Fab. 185

 Trigger Warning: execution, rape

It is said that Schoeneus had a beautiful daughter named Atalanta who surpassed men on the racetrack with her own athletic ability. She asked her father to remain unmarried, so whenever one of her many suitors asked for her hand in marriage, her father would set up a contest. A suitor who wanted to marry his daughter had to first run a race with Atalanta, but he would run the track unarmed, while she pursued him with a spear. After she hunted him down and killed him, she would put his head on display on the racetrack. After Atalanta had defeated and killed many suitors this way, she was finally defeated by Hippomenes [the son of Megareus and Merope]. Venus gave Hippomenes three special apples, and told him how to use them. During the race, he tossed the apples to the girl to slow down the race. She slowed down while she collected them and marveled at their golden appearance, and so the youth ended up winning the race. Schoeneus was impressed by the trick and happily married off his daughter to Hippomenes. But while he led her back to his homeland, Hippomenes forgot that he only won the race by Venus’ help, and did not thank her. Venus grew angry at that, and while Hippomenes was sacrificing to Jupiter the Winner on Mount Parnassus, he became overcome with lust and slept with Atalanta in the god’s sacred shrine. Because of this act, Jupiter turned them into lions, so they could no longer sleep together again*.

* According to ancient superstition, lions and lionesses could not mate with each other.

--Hyginus, Fabulae 185 

Schoeneus filiam Atalantam virginem formosissimam dicitur habuisse, quae virtute sua cursu viros superabat. ea petiit a patre ut se virginem servaret. itaque cum a pluribus in coniugium peteretur, pater eius simultatem constituit, qui eam ducere vellet prius in certamine cursu cum ea contenderet, termino constituto, ut ille inermis fugeret haec cum telo insequeretur; quem intra finem termini constituta fuisset interficeret, cuius caput in stadio figeret. plerosque cum superasset et ocidisset novissime ab Hippomene Megarei et Meropes filio victa est. hic enim a Venere mala tria insignis formae acceperat, edoctus quis usus in eis esset. qui in ipso certamine iactando puellae impetum alligavit. illa enim dum colligit et ammiratur aurum, declinavit et iuveni victoriam tradidit. cui Schoeneus ob industriam libens filiam suam dedit uxorem. Hanc cum in patriam duceret, oblitus beneficio Veneris se vicisse, grates ei non egit. irata Venere in monte Parnasso cum sacrificaret Iovi Victori, cupiditate incensus cum ea in fano concubuit. quos Iupiter ob id factum in leonem et leam convertit,  quibus dii concubitum Veneris denegant.



Name: Gaius Julius Hyginus

Date: 64 BCE – 17 CE

Works: Fabulae*

               De Astronomica

REGION 1 / 4*




Hyginus was a freedman of the Roman emperor Augustus who was in charge of the Imperial library on the Palatine Hill in Rome. His work, the Fabulae, are a sourcebook for Greek and Roman myths. Although there is quite a bit of overlap between his writings and his contemporary and friend Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Hyginus’ works are much more succinct.





* There is evidence that Hyginus may have been from Alexandria, Egypt (Suetonius, de Gramm. 20)


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