The Greek Goddess Atalanta
Atalanta was a feminist . . . no doubt about that! Refusing to be 'married off' by her father, she insisted on traveling the world and finishing her scholarly studies before she settled down. She became a world-class athlete and excelled as a distance runner, outclassing all the men on the track.
A definite overachiever! As if all that wasn't enough, Atalanta was also a stunning beauty. Needless to say she had plenty of suitors, but remained determined that she would not marry until she found the man she felt was her equal, one that could capture her interest and her heart.
Her father, the king, was ever bit as stubborn as Atalanta. Insisting that she "give up all this foolishness", he summoned all the eligible bachelors, telling them that he would give her hand in marriage to one of them that week. Applicants for the honor were lined up for miles.
Atalanta, understandably, was furious with her father but he refused to go back on his word to his countrymen. Eventually she agreed to marriage, but only to the man who could beat her in a race . . . and even then only if she could run carrying her heavy sword to lop of the head of any of the runners as she managed to pass them (" just to make the race more interesting", she said.)
Such was her beauty and renown that few suitors withdrew from the competition. By the end of the day the field was bloody, for no one had been able to outrun her. But she was about to meet her match . Hippomenes (a slight fellow who usually spent his time with his nose in a book) had fallen madly in love with the gorgeous Atalanta as he watched her run. He impetuously entered the race, hoping to win her attention.
The onlookers were appalled. This was no athlete. He wouldn't stand a chance of making it out alive. They could hardly bear to watch.
Now Hippomenes' mamma may have raised some scrawny kids, but she sure didn't raise any dumb ones.
Having second thoughts about his impulsive decision, Hippomenes realized he needed help, some serious help, and went to beg the assistance of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Aphrodite, always generous with her favors, agreed And soon they had a plan.
Just as Atalanta drew her sword and began to pass him, Hippomenes pulled a clever trick, dropping a glittering golden apple on the track. Atalanta, curious, slowed to check it out. As she resumed her run and drew close again, he dropped another apple. The bemused Atalanta had to laugh!!
Dropping her sword, she caught up with Hippomenes and told him she had never had such an enjoyable race and hoped he wouldn't mind if she declared the race a tie! Happily, she told her father that she had finally found a man who was truly her equal, a man she wished to marry.
But there's more to the story . . .
Aphrodite (or was it Rhea??) Gets Even
I wish I could say that there was a happy ending, but unfortunately it wasn't so. They did have a beautiful wedding and an exciting trip to meet his parents; both events were the occasion for huge celebrations in their honor. But in the midst of all the partying, the couple overlooked something important.
Aphrodite had done so much to make their dreams a reality. Did either of them think to send her a thank you note? Afraid not . . . and Aphrodite was not amused.
So, to get even she decided to play a naughty trick on the couple, inflaming them with an unquenchable desire for each other while they were attending an event in the temple of Rhea, a Titan fertility goddess who was the mother of the gods. Rhea was enraged when she caught the couple making mad passionate love on her altar and, in a rage over the desecration, she killed them both instantly.
Well, actually there is a bit of happiness in the end of the story. Zeus, the god who ruled the Olympians, thought the punishment was a bit harsh. Impressed by the story of their love, he turned the lovers into a constellation of stars (the Leonids) where they took the form of lions racing joyfully, side by side, throughout eternity.
Use this link to read more about the story of Atalanta.
Speaking of Weddings
Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway (aka The Wedding Goddess) announces her new 'Blog-A-Zine' for brides. Personalize your wedding, avoid the stress and pitfalls, or just subscribe to enjoy Laurie Sue's delightful take on things. Interested?? She invites you to subscribe to Wedding Goddess Wisdom.
Put Fun into your workout and a smile on your face
For those of us who don't run as much as Atalanta . . .
and for those who could just use a good belly laugh. . .
video of four unlikely 'gods' who found a way to put fun into
I am reminded of one of the instructions in the Dali Lama's message for 2006:
Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
Perhaps we could add 'exercise' to that mandate. Even if you've read the 2006 message from the Dali Lama before, visit it again. It's always good to feed our minds with wise and noble thoughts. You can use this link: Life Instructions