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.


The fastest human alive

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…

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Scott Stoll

My claim to fame is that I rode a bicycle around the world and wrote some books. More about me.
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