no edit summary
There are many interpretations of the myth and it helped the Greeks to understand their universe at a time when philosophy and science were only slowly emerging. For many ancients, the idea that a fallen god was holding up the sky was plausible. The etymology of the name allows us to understand Atlas’ role in Greek mythology and culture. It is widely believed that the name of the Titan is based on the Ancient Greek for ‘to suffer’ and ‘to endure’ <ref> Hornblower, et al., eds. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p 34</ref>. Atlas symbolized the characteristic of endurance for the Greeks, a quality which they greatly admired. Many later Greek and Romans rationalized the myths in order to provide more sophisticated explanations of the world. The Titans association with the skies led him to be the founder and the god of the science of astronomy. He was widely credited with inventing astronomical instruments such as the astrolabe. There is a close association between astronomy and geography in classical thinking and many ancients claimed him to be the first Geographer. In many mythologies, there are ‘cultural heroes’ who make discoveries and inventions that benefit humanity. The Titan has many of the characteristics of this type of hero and he would have been particularly important to the Greeks, as a result <ref>Graves, p 118</ref>. One of the functions of myth is to order the world and explain the origins of natural phenomena. The myth of Atlas was used in the Classical World to explain the origin of the Atlas Mountains and the Titan was the probable source for the name of the Atlantic Ocean. Because of his association with what is now modern North Africa, the Athenians credited him with the being the first king of Mauretania, a powerful Berber kingdom in antiquity<ref>Hornblower, p. 35</ref>. This is an example of how the myth was used to explain historical events and processes. Plato used the named Atlas for the first king of his fabled Utopia Atlantis. Many people now accept that Atlantis was a parable, created by the great Athenian. It seems that Plato chose to make Atlas the monarch of the island because he personified qualities, endurance, and strength that were considered essential in an ideal philosopher-king <ref>Hornblower, p. 35</ref>.
==The invention of the Atlas==