Once upon a time, Hippomenes, the son of Megareus of Onchestus, witnessed a race, wherein the suitors of the swift-footed maid Atalanta, the daughter of Schoeneus, were defeated by her and according to the stipulated conditions of the race, were put to death.
Without any fright of the deathly result, Hippomenes boldly stood up in the midst of the crowd. Fixing his strong gaze upon Atalanta, he told her that there was no glory in defeating weaklings. However, it would be glorious if she vanquished him, for he was the descendant of Neptune, and was also known as the great Hippomenes, since he had never disgraced his famous descent.
While Hippomenes was speaking, the gaze of Atalanta softened, for although his beauty was not comparable to hers, yet, she was moved by his youthfulness, courage, and fearlessness. She thought perhaps some god jealous of youth, must have prompted him to challenge her and thus, take his life away. Seeing that he was madly in love with her, she almost thought of wishing his victory. But she knew that he would be beaten and would die, simply because he wanted to live with her. If fate had not denied her marriage, then she would have willingly shared her bed with him, and no one else. Vacillating between the desire to conquer him and the desire to be conquered by him, the unbalanced heart of the innocent virgin Atalanta, fell in love with Hippomenes.
She told Hippomenes to choose a long life by going away, for a match with her was deadly. She told him not to risk his youth for her beauty, since surely there would be numerous fair maids, who would gladly seek his love. Hippomenes did not budge and Atalanta accepted to race with him. Hippomenes as a suppliant, earnestly supplicated in an anxious voice to Venus, the goddess of Love, to be near him, to help with his daring and graciously smile on the love, which she had inspired in his heart.
Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani