What? You've never heard of Atalanta? Well, I hadn't until I started researching subject matter for a swap hosted by my friend Bobguyman. Hey, it's been a while since I studied ancient Greek mythology, y'know?
Here's her story:
Atalanta (her name means 'unswaying') grew to become a most beautiful woman and vowed to remain a virgin. She was the swiftest runner of her time, surpassing the most fleet-footed men in racing. A woman way ahead of her time, she could defeat men in wrestling, got to voyage with Jason and the Argonauts in their Quest for the Golden Fleece, and played an active part in killing the feared Calydonian Boar. Atalanta was also a stunningly beautiful woman and many princely suitors from all over Greece came to ask for her hand in marriage. No way. Atalanta had vowed to remain husbandless until she died, and would challenge any potential suitor to a foot race. If she lost she would become his wife...if the man was defeated in the race he would lose his life! Needless to say, may suitors lost their lives, until a man called Melanion, or as others say Hippomenes, appealed to the goddess of Love, Aphrodite, to help him land Atalanta as wife.
Aphrodite was irked that Atalanta was not moved by feelings of love, and felt that she had failed in her job, so she decided to help Melanion. She gave him some magical golden apples with instructions to scatter them on the ground when Atalanta gained on him. As Melanion was being pursued he threw down the golden apples that he had received from Aphrodite, and Atalanta, slowing down to pick up the exquisitely irresistible dropped fruit, was beaten in the race. Melanion took home his new wife but in his excitement he forgot the role that Aphrodite played and did not pay her proper thanks. Duh. The peeved goddess of Love decided to punish the ungrateful man, so while he was sacrificing on Mount Parnassus to Zeus to celebrate his victory, Aphrodite inflamed him with desire and he lay with Atalanta in the temple while the sacred images turned away their eyes. Zeus saw this profane act in his temple and in his fury he turned them into lion and lioness.