We'd be leading you astray if we didn't point out that Atalanta herself is a big time symbol. The lady huntress is way different from most of the other girls in ancient Greece. She lives outside of the male-dominated society, literally and metaphorically. The fact that she's above average at hunting, wrestling, and running really sticks in the craw of most of the men she meets. All this has made Atalanta herself a symbol of total girl power over the years. Throughout the centuries, women living in societies run by men have seen Atalanta as an example of what women are capable of when given the chance to be all they can be.
Okay, here's another thing to think about. So, Atalanta represents girl power and all that, so what does it mean that she ends up being defeated by a man in the end? When Hippomenes beats her in the foot race, she's forced to marry him and be like every other woman. Is the myth trying to say that even women who manage to buck the system will inevitably be put back in their rightful place? Or does the fact that Hippomenes has to get help from Aphrodite in order to beat Atalanta show that women could be just as good (or better) than men if the deck wasn't stacked against them?
(Atalanta actually reminds us a whole lot of Queen Hippolyta and her Amazon warrior women. Click here to learn more about them.)