Study Guide

The Story of Atalanta Khutulun

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Khutulun was a Mongol princess from the 13th Century. Don't go thinking she was some Disney style princess, though. Just like Atalanta, this girl was tough as nails. This tough lady was the niece of infamous conqueror Kublai Khan and the great-great-granddaughter of Ghengis Khan. Just like her famous male relatives, Khutulun was an awesome warrior; she fought beside her dad, Kaidu, in all his battles.

Also like Atalanta, Khutulun was in no rush to get married. Khutulun declared that any guy who wanted to marry her had to first beat her in wrestling. Hm, kind of reminds us of the footrace challenge that Atalanta set up. Unlike Atalanta, though, Khutulun was totally undefeated; no guy was ever able to take her down. Every time she won, the loser dude had to give her a hundred horses. (Maybe this is the origin of the term "pony up.")

We don't exactly know how many suitors she beat up, but by we do know that by the end of it, she was up to her neck in horses. The story of Khutulun was recorded by Marco Polo and later turned into the opera, Turandot, by Puccini.

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