Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Atalanta

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Jakob Jordaens. Meleager and Atalanta, 17th century. Museo del Prado, Madrid

Atalanta
Mythic, worshipped in ancient Greece, dates vary, beginning circa 1600 B.C.

Atalanta was a woman from Greek mythology, suckled by a bear and raised by hunters after her father, disappointed that he did not have a son instead, left her on a mountaintop as an infant. She became a great hunter and athlete and was later accepted by her father, who wanted her to get married. Having been warned against marriage by an oracle, Atalanta devised a plan whereby she could avoid it: she agreed to marry anyone who could beat her in a foot race, but suitors who lost would be killed. This did not discourage them, however. After many victories, Atalanta was beaten by Hippomenes with the aid of Aphrodite, goddess of sexual love.

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