Atalanta fastest person in the world
A sculpture of Atalanta, the fastest person in the world, running a race. Nobody could defeat Atalanta in a fair race. The Louvre, Pierre Lepautre, sculptor. Credit: Jebulon, Wikimedia Commons.

Atalanta

Have you ever wondered who the fastest human in the world is? Perhaps, you are thinking of the superhero Flash or Superman. In reality, the fastest human — for now — is Usain Bolt. The Olympian has reached speeds of 27 mph, which is faster than a lot of animals. But, in Greek mythology, the fastest god was the virgin huntress Atalanta.

In many versions of Jason and the Argonauts and the quest for the Golden Fleece, Atalanta sailed with the Argonauts as the only female crewmember. (However, Apollonius of Rhodes’ version of the story claims Jason would not allow a woman on the ship because she would cause strife on the otherwise all-male expedition. Argonautica 1.769–73.) She jumped aboard the ship soon after the expedition set out, invoking the protection of Artemis, to whom she was a virgin priestess. She was following Meleager, who abandoned his young wife for Atalanta’s favor. Atalanta returned Meleager’s love but was prevented from consummating their union. An oracle warned that if Atalanta lost her virginity, it would prove disastrous. Disappointed, Meleager joined the crew of the Argo, but Atalanta would not let him out of her sight.

She plays a major role in the adventures of the Argonauts: she suffered an injury in a battle at Colchis, was healed by Medea and more…Read about Atlanta on Wikipedia.

Read the story of Jason and the Argonauts.

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More adaptations of the myth

There are hundreds of adaptations of the myth of Jason and the Argonauts including the famous movie of 1963. Here we present the most famous.

Ovid Metamorphoses illustrated by Johannes Baur. Book 7, Plate 62.

The Metamorphoses, Book VII

Arguably, Jason’s wife, Medea is the true hero of the story. The story of Jason and the Argonauts is told from Medea’s point of view in Book VII of The Metamorphoses by the poet Ovid.

The Argo, the Argonauts ship, named after her builder, Argus.

The crew of the Argo

The crew of the Argonauts varies depending on which version of the ancient myth you are reading. That sounds confusing, but the ancient storytellers were always adding to and embellishing the story, much like the modern superhero sagas.

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