Atlas

King of Mauritania in Africa, fabled to have supported the world upon his shoulders. Of course, the tale is merely a poetical way of saying that the Atlas mountains prop up the heavens, because they are so lofty. We call a book of maps an “Atlas,” because it contains or holds the world. The word was first employed in this sense by Mercator, and the title-page of his collection of maps had the figure of Atlas with the world on his back.

Bid Atlas, propping heaven, as poets feign,
His subterranean wonders spread!

Thomsom: Autumn, 797–8.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

More on Atlas from Fact Monster:

  • atlas, in geography - atlas atlas, in geography, collection of maps or charts. It usually includes data on various ...
  • Minnesota - Map of Minnesota & articles on flags, geography, history, statistics, disasters, and current events.
  • Guam - Map of Guam & articles on flags, geography, history, statistics, disasters, and current events.
  • Vermont - Map of Vermont & articles on flags, geography, history, statistics, disasters, and current events.
  • Oklahoma - Map of Oklahoma & articles on flags, geography, history, statistics, disasters, and current events.

Related Content