Atalanta's “better part,” AS YOU LIKE IT, iii. 2. 137. Here the meaning ofbetter part (a common enough expression, and used by Shakespeare in two other places— “my better part of man,” Macbeth, v. 8. 18— “My spirit is thine, the better part of me,” Sonnet LXXIV. 8 has been much disputed. “Cannot Atalanta's better part mean her virtue or virgin chastity? . . . Pliny's Natural History, b. XXXV. c. iii., mentions the portraits of Atalanta and Helen, utraque excellentissima forma, sed altera ut virgo; that is, ‘both of them for beauty incomparable, and yet a man may discerne the one [Atalanta] of them to be a maiden, for her modest and chaste countenance,’ as Dr. P. Holland translated the passage” (TOLLET) . “I suppose Atalanta's better part is her wit, that is, the swiftness of her mind” (FARMER) . “After all, I believe that ‘Atalanta's better part’ means only the best part about her, such as was most commended” (STEEVENS) . “Atalanta's better part was not her modesty, nor her heels, nor her wit, as critics have variously conjectured, but simply her spiritual part” (STAUNTON—in a note on Macbeth, v. 8. 18). Mr. Grant White's explanation of the lady's better part I had rather refer to than quote.
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