the ultimate victory of Atalante
over the male hero


" She wears a tunic of linen that reveals her arms And goes up to her thighs stretched out with muscles Two brilliant clasps retain it to her stripped shoulders, And a cord of hemp raises it right under her childish nipples Her hair, dressed up simply, are tied on her neck. An ivory quiver hangs to her left shoulder And her hand holds an arc. She is thus adorned. As for her face, It appears too virginal to be that of a boy And too boyish to be that of a girl." Atalante is her name Banned by Schoeneus her father who preferred a boy to her She was raised by the wild beasts From where comes her quality as a huntress And her skill to fight against the wild animal She was the most beautiful among the girls But was not less invincible to the race She exceeded by her speed all the men of Arcadia So that one could not say if it was due to her great beauty Or to her astonishing speed that she always win races. Although she did not have any taste for men Appreciating their company only at hunting It was time for her to find a husband And she consulted the oracle on this subject, Who says this to her: " There is no need of a husband for you, my daughter You who possess moreover, the gifts of the male Prevent yourself thus, to take one. You cannot however, escape from it, And, of all your life, You will be reduced at not being yourself anymore." Atalante terrified by the prediction of the god Takes refuge from now on, in the thick forests of Arcadia And rebel to any union She gets rid of the crowd of aspirants Who aspire to break her still intact hymenum And trustful she says to them: " No one will possess me, if he initially beat me to the race. Fight on running with me: the fastest, as a reward, will have my hand and will share my couch; those who will remain behind will then, only gain to die. Such is the law of the fight." Atalante was pitiless towards her aspirants Respecting only the laws of the hunter Submit young heroes, in spite of their force and their courage To these risks, impossible to overcome Such was thus, the power of her Beauty In the numerous crowd that witnessed these tournaments Which issue was obvious to everyone There was Hippomene, son of Megareus, king of Onchestus Who was the equal of Atalante If not at running at least by his grace " Is it possible that one risk so great dangers to conquer a spouse? " He thus condemned the excess of these young people That agree to die to conquer a wife But when he saw the face of Atalante And when she had, for the race, released her body of her veils He regretted his lightness and confessed himself to have blamed Whoever thus risked his life For such a reward. " Forgive me, you that I just blamed. Young people who risk like that, your life, The reward that you could be granted Was not yet known to me." He then praises the beauty of Atalante And his heart ignites for her Jealous he wishes That she outrun these young people with their feet so light And full of audacity, but he also wants to try its chance Knowing that he will not be able to overcome her at the race He begs Aphrodite to help him Knowing the disdain that maintains the Goddess Towards the young virgins who, like Atalante, despised love While his thoughts sail like that The young girl flies away towards the set goal And although he has trouble to follow her race He admires still more her beauty Her bronzed naked etheral body, contracts and stretches As an arc which is tightened And burst suddenly like the flight of a Scythe arrow her hair flies behind her And the streamers which she carries to her ankles and her elbows Spins in thousand of distorsions like panic snakes The race still makes her more beautiful She crosses first the finish line And the defeated lovers groan and hide themselves Regretting more than death Of not being able to benefit from the beauty of Atalante And of the pleasure to deflower her And it is well there, the reward of the loser. Then the intrepid Aonien stand up in the crowd And harangue thus the winner: " Why do triumph over such veins glories Against unable and cheap rivals; If you measure hourself with me, Atalante Or fortune will be advantageous to me In this case you will not be able to be indignant of being defeated by such an adversary Because I am the direct descendant of Neptune the God of the sea Or, I will be defeated by you And you will gain a fame equal to mine. " The girl notices him and she is moved by him And wondered whether it would be better To defeat him or to be defeated So much his beauty allures her. " Who is He, this god, enemy of the beautiful young men Who pushes you to want to join together with me? I am moved it is true, by your beauty But still well more by your youth By your courage and by the fact that you do not fear death. I am glorified of the love that you have for me And of the price of death which you attach to the happiness of deflowering me It is still time, beautiful foreigner, to leave And renounce thus, to an hymen sprinkled with blood. Why are you interested in the one Who has caused the death of so many young males Whereas there are so many virgin girls, Who only ask to benefit from the soft warmth of your fertile appendix? But if you persist in choosing me as your spouse Die thus like those whose death could not open your eyes. I pray the gods, that you renounce to defeat me Or if your madness mislays you, that you surpass me at the race. Unfortunate Hippomene who deserved to live I wishes that you had never seen me, If destiny was not opposed to my marriage You are the only one with whom I would like to share my couch. " Thus Atalante, touched by a sudden passion Ignorant of the matters of Love Thus entrusting her heart, reveals her weaknesses, She loves without really understanding what is love Hippomene requests the goddess of Cythere To grant him assistance to defeat the beautiful huntress And her favour to have lit in him, the flames of love. The goddess, moved, presents to him three apples Picked in the sacred fields of Tamasus And as beautiful as those of the Garden of Hesperides She instruct him of the use he must make of it. The trumpets made themselves heard It is the signal of the departure of the race Leaning forward, they jump with an agile step Flying over more than touching the ground The favourable acclaims from the crowd Double the ardor of the young man. The cries, the exclamations of victory, The encouragements intended to him Have as much effect on the dougther of Schoeneus Than for the hero son of Megareus She is going to overpass him but she slow down to mock him Hippomene already out of breath and the end line so far He then launches a first apple towards Atalante She slows down her race and throws a glance to the young man Letting him then overtake her slightly She then persues him a moment Seduced by this young body stretched by the effort Then recovering her consciousness, she overtake him easily He then throws a second apple toward Atalante She slows down one moment her race and looks with voluptuousness the young man Letting him overtake her largely Then she pursues him like we do to a rejected lover Her feelings overturned by the shapes of his moving body Then recovering her consciousness, she overtake him with difficulty. He then throws the last apple far in front of Atalante She stops her race and contemplates the beautiful young man who approaches Letting him overtake her completely And she pursues him greedily like a hunted prey Disrupted by the caresses lavished in thought to this naked body of young beautiful ephebe Then recovering her consciousness, she notes that it is already too late Hippomene having first, crossed the line. It is so that Hippomene married Whom who was the price of his victory to the race. They loved each other and they had many children But victims of the goddess, a sad end Which could easily be the subject of another story.

Marco Polo or the imaginary journey (Mythologies, translated august 2000) © 1999 Jean-Pierre Lapointe
Ovide, the metamorphosis, and the paintings of the great-masters, music by Yokubota.


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