Why Is An Atlas Called An Atlas?


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Will Martin answered
The word atlas is Greek in origin and literally means "he who carries." In ancient Greek mythology, Atlas was a god, one of the Titans (the giant gods from the earliest Greek myths.) When the Olympian gods defeated the Titans and took over the world, Atlas, who had fought against the chief Olympian god, Zeus, was given a terrible punishment. He was condemned to stand forever holding the world and the heavens on his shoulders (the story may come from the way that cloud-covered mountains can look as if they were holding up the sky.)

In one legend, Atlas is said to have tricked the hero Hercules into holding the world for him. Hercules then asked Atlas to take back the burden just for a moment while he made himself more comfortable - and as soon as Atlas took it, walked off again. Atlas was later transformed into a mountain range (the Atlas mountains.)

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