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 Titan Atlas

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PostSubject: Titan Atlas   Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:42 pm



Atlas was the primordial Titan who supported the heavens from the ranges now called the Atlas Mountains. Atlas was the son of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid Asia[1] or Klyménē (Κλυμένη):[2]

"Now Iapetus took to wife the neat-ankled maid Clymene, daughter of Ocean, and went up with her into one bed. And she bare him a stout-hearted son, Atlas: also she bare very glorious Menoetius and clever Prometheus, full of various wiles, and scatter-brained Epimetheus."[3]
Hyginus emphasises the primordial nature of Atlas by making him the son of Aether and Gaia.[4] In contexts where a Titan and a Titaness are assigned each of the seven planetary powers, Atlas is paired with Phoebe and governs the moon.[5] He had three brothers — Prometheus, Epimetheus and Menoetius.[6]

Atlas, with his brother Menoetius, sided with the Titans in their war against the Olympians, the Titanomachy. His brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus weighed the odds and betrayed the other Titans by forming an alliance with the Olympians. When the Titans were defeated, many of them (including Menoetius) were confined to Tartarus, but Zeus condemned Atlas to stand at the western edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold up Uranus (the Sky) on his shoulders, to prevent the two from resuming their primordial embrace. Thus, he was Atlas Telamon, "enduring Atlas," and became a doublet of Koios, the embodiment of the celestial axis around which the heavens revolve.[14] A common interpretation today is that Atlas was forced to hold the Earth on his shoulders, but Classical art shows Atlas holding the celestial spheres, not a globe; the solidity of the marble globe borne by the renowned Farnese Atlas may have aided the conflation, reinforced in the 16th century by the developing usage of atlas to describe a corpus of terrestrial maps.
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