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KION OURANOU. The Sky Column on Atlas Mountain

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Chronos
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« on: December 02, 2009, 10:47:59 pm »

[1. The Greek writers had lost very early the exact knowledge about the geographical position of the Atlas mountain. Because of this, some placed it in Mauritania in Africa, others in Italy, and finally some in Arcadia in the Peloponnesus. But no other mountain with the name of Atlas ever existed in any part of the ancient world, except in the country of the Hyperboreans. To the indigenous populations of NW Africa the name Atlas was totally unknown. This name was given to that mountainous range only in the Greek literary writings (Pliny, V. 1.13; Strabo, XVI. 3. 2)].

 

Hercules obeyed Prometheus’ advice, took the pole of the sky on his shoulders in Atlas’ stead, and Atlas went to the gardens of the Hesperides, took three apples and returned to Hercules. (This scene is represented on a bas-relief from the temple of Jove at Olympia). But now Atlas did not want to take back on his shoulders the pole of the sky, saying that he himself will take to Eurystheus the apples, while Hercules will continue to support the sky in his place. Hercules promised firstly to do that, but using a ruse, taught him by Prometheus, he put again the sky on Atlas’ shoulders. Namely, Hercules asked Atlas to support the sky for only a few moments, so that he could put a cushion on his head. Atlas put down the apples and took the sky, while Hercules grabbed the apples and went away.

This is the oldest tradition, and the most accredited at the same time, about the country of the titan Atlas, a king from the country of the pious Hyperboreans.

The Hyperboreans, the inhabitants of a very fertile and blessed country, a pastoral and agricultural people, full of virtues, religious and just, contemporary with the gods of Olympus, who considered themselves born from the glorious race of the titans (Boeckhius, Pindari opera,II.96), were an extended Pelasgian population living at the north of Istru and the Black Sea (Pindar affirmed that the Hyperboreans lived near the sources, or cataracts, of the Istru –Olymp.III.14-17).
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