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The symbolic meanings of the various actions in the myth may be considered as follows:
1. Atalanta’s name defines her invincibility. This meaning suggests the power of women and the need for men to become even more powerful if love, birth, and family—in short, society—are to be established and maintained.
2. The golden apples symbolize the power of men to confer home and consequent stability so that women may be confined to their role of wife and mother.
3. The chopping off of the heads of losing runners obviously symbolizes the idea that “only the brave deserve the fair” (a quotation from Dryden’s poem “Alexander’s Feast”). A modern scientific and symbolic interpretation of the destruction of the inferior suitors is that the victorious ones win the right of maintaining the strength of the human gene pool.d. The father’s abandoning the infant Atalanta represents an ancient way of maintaining property (usually a woman gave her goods and titles to the man who married her) and also a means of controlling population and inheritance through reducing the numbers of women. That Atalanta was reared outside the home is a common element in many ancient stories.
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