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date: 07 March 2021


  • Richard Hunter


Atlas (Ἄτλας), probably ‘very enduring’ (τλᾶν), the *Titan son of *Iapetus and brother of *Prometheus. In the Odyssey he is the ‘deadly minded’ father of *Calypso, ‘who knows the depths of the whole sea, and holds the tall pillars which hold earth and heaven apart’ (1. 52–4, cf. S. West's comm.; Aesch. PV348–50). In *Hesiod he lives at the edge of the world beside the *Hesperides and holds up the heaven (Theog. 517–20). The ‘rationalizing’ identification of the Titan with the *Atlas mountains is first found in *Herodotus (4. 184. 3; cf. Verg. Aen. 4. 246–51 who strikingly combines the mythical and rationalizing versions); a story in which he was a shepherd turned to rock by *Perseus (1) with the *Gorgon's head (Ov. Met. 4. 627–62) may go back to the 5th cent. bce (cf.

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