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Written by Stephanie SpinnerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Stephanie Spinner

· Laurel Leaf
· Paperback · April 12, 2005 · $5.99 · 978-0-440-23819-5 (0-440-23819-6)
Also available as an eBook.

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Readers Guide

1. Atalanta wants no romantic entanglements because she has taken a vow of chastity in honor of Artemis. (p. 6) Why would a vow of chastity bring honor to Artemis? When Atalanta broke her vow by marrying Hippomenes, did she dishonor Artemis? Why or why not?

2. When Jason asks Castor if he could buy one of his bows, which he has heard are perfect, Castor refuses because “he had strong opinions about perfection. He said it was hard to find, harder to achieve, but hardest of all to forget.” (p. 29) What did Castor mean? Can you give an example of perfection–or striving for perfection–that fits this statement?

3. Artemis sends a wild boar to plague King Oeneus for failing to sacrifice to her, and as a result, the king and queen die and all their heirs are killed or turned into guinea hens. (pp. 10 & 27, respectively) On page 14, Ancaeus claims, “No goddess can protect the boar from this,” (meaning his two-edged ax). Atalanta is aghast that he would insult Artemis, goddess of the hunt, and is not surprised when he pays for his reckless comment with his life. The punishments King Oeneus and Ancaeus suffer do not seem to fit the crime. What does this tell you about the power and lack of mercy the gods feel toward mortals? What present-day sins, misjudgments, or actions occur where the punishment seems extreme?

4. The running commentary between the gods and goddesses about the events as they occur gives the reader insight into their thinking. How does this commentary affect your attitude toward the mortals? Toward the gods and goddesses? What “gods and goddesses” are present today that rule over our lives? What would they say about us?

5. When Atalanta sets forth conditions for her suitors to meet, she feels sure that the threat of death will keep all suitors away. However, she learns that the threat of death is alluring to some, and many come to win her hand. Honoring her conditions means death for many men, and Castor has taught her that honor is keeping one’s word. Can you think of another way Atalanta could have honored her word without causing death? What other consequence could she have set that would not have meant death?

6. The punishment meted out by Zeus to Atalanta and Hippomenes for desecrating sacred ground seems cruel, but is it? Is there any way that Atalanta and her mate benefit from what Zeus does?