The son of Megareus or Onchestus and Merope, and the great-grandson of Poseidon. He fell in love with Atalanta and determined to race against her, on penalty of death for failure. By means of the golden apples he won the race and claimed Atalanta as his wife.

Later, as he and Atalanta passed Cybele's temple — built by Echion in former times fulfilling a vow — Hippomenes was stirred by the divine power of Aphrodite and an untimely desire to make love seized him. The couple entered a nearby cave, sacred to the old religion and filled with images of the elder gods, and desecrated the sanctuary with forbidden intercourse.

The Great Mother with the turreted crown hesitated as to whether to plunge the guilty pair beneath the waters of the Styx: but the punishment seemed too light. Instead, she turned the two sinners into the lions that pull her chariot.



  • Ovid. Metamorphoses x, 560-707.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 15.8.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.