Word of the Week: Atlas

Atlas is a noun and defined as a bound collection of maps often including illustrations, informative tables, or textual matter. 

Atlas is one of the many words in the English language that has its roots in Greek mythology. In this case the word atlas derives from Atlas, a Titan, who was condemned to hold up the sky for eternity. The word atlas was first used in the 16th century to describe a collection of maps by Gerardus Mercator, a flemish geographer, who intentionally chose the word to honor the Titan Atlas. The word atlas is commonly used to describe global or terrestrial maps; however, the Titan Atlas does not carry the Earth on his shoulders but the sky.  

In Greek mythology, it was the Titans who originally controlled the world. However, when they were defeated by the Olympians in the War of the Titans, Zeus, the king of the gods, condemned the Titans to the underworld. However, instead of spending eternity in the underworld, Atlas was banished to the most western edge of the Earth and condemned to hold the sky on his shoulders.

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Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “atlas.”
Atlas (mythology)

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