Saturday, 30 July 2016

A good example

Atalanta was a girl in ancient Greece who had a miserable childhood with a father that wanted a son, was abandoned by him and brought up by bears, fought centaurs and boars and chose to excel at sport.

You would imagine that Atalanta would be pretty uncouth, as smelly as a bear and not the most desirable of girlfriends having been raised up this way; but not so. For some reason possibly to get hold of the franchise to exploit this maiden her father accepts her back and encourages her to the extent of laying down the rules for suitors to her hand. 

To win this hairy, smelly, uncouth maiden, suitors would have to beat her in a foot race. Losers she decides would indeed be that by losing their lives as some apparently did. However one young man Hippomenes with a great desire for Atalanta despite her odoriferous background wants to win her but sees how unlikely that is seeks Aphrodite’s help. She gives him three golden apples to tempt Atalanta with. He will  throw them down as they race to entice her to pick them up which is what you do if you have been raised by smelly bears, abandoned then reconciled with your very rich father who only wanted a son and now is being unbearably cruel to all suitors regardless of their looks or potential…or so the story goes.

They start running and clearly she is leading as of course she would be as he is toting three golden apples which must be very heavy. How he does this I can’t imagine as in ancient Greece competitors ran naked however whether he drops one or manages to throw it so she can see it despite her concentrating on her running, I don’t know; but my guess is that someone in the crowd of onlookers tells her what is going on and she glances round and despite her father being as rich as Midas; she chases after it and picks it up. So Hippomenes grabs the lead and slightly less encumbered with only two balls left sees her catching up again. So throws another gold ball possibly on a turn in the track so she goes chasing after the second gold ball heading in the opposite direction while he steams ahead again. This happens once more and she is the one that is now lumbered with balls and he wins the race and the hairy, smelly maiden for himself. Everybody rejoices and he marries Atalanta and even more unlikely stories are told about them later on.

So how about Hippomenes and Atalanta you ask? Well, getting a good look at him after the race she realizes that perhaps such a resourceful chap wouldn’t be a bad husband after all so they get wed but in their eagerness completely forget to thank the gods for their help by which nothing could happen in those days. Zeus and Aphrodite are furious but luckily recognizing the couples love for each other they are placed in a constellation in the sky for all time. If you believe all that you must be on drugs too! 

Note: This is not a good story for children. Not because the characters are running around naked with people watching them but because this event may have been the start of cheating at sport for gain, albeit abetted by those in control of the sports people’s lives. Does this sound familiar?

N.B. I published a version of this story several years ago but as the Olympic Games start this week I thought it could do with an airing.

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1 comment:

  1. Am not watching tv for the next two weeks... Not interested in the Olympics. Your version of this Greek myth is interesting.