Atlas and the Andes connection

Both the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic Island also called Atlantis were called after Atlas the first King of Atlantis. We find Atlas mentioned by Homer in the Odyssesy. After the war of Troy, Odysseus (also known as Ulysses) goes on a long voyage and finds himself "on a lonely island far away in the middle of the Sea. The island is well-wooded and a goddess lives there, the child of the malevolent Atlas, who knows the sea in all its depths and with his own shoulders supports the great columns that hold earth and sky apart."

He is also mentioned by Hesiod, "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 ... And Atlas through hard constraint upholds the wide heaven with unwearying head and arms, standing at the borders of the earth before the clear-voiced Hesperides; for this lot wise Zeus assigned to him."

As pointed out by R. Cedric Leonard, Plato was not the first to use the name Atlantis since it also occurs in Herodotus.

So Atlas, the Atlantic Ocean or Atlantis Sea were so named long before Plato wrote his story of the island of Atlantis disappearing into the sea, and the daughters of Atlas, also called the Hesperides lived on a wooded island far away in the middle of the sea


However, later Atlas became a mountain in Libya (North Africa), and quote "Late Hellenistic and Roman poets reimagined the Titan Atlas as a giant ruler in the westernmost lands, and early modern translators such as Thomas Bulfinch made of that hint a King Atlas, a mythical King of Mauretania, west of Libya, who provided an alternative etiological origin-tale for the Atlas Mountains of North Africa."

According to a story invented to describe the origin of the heaven-bearing Atlas Mountains of North Africa, put forward by Polyidus, "makes Atlas a shepherd: according to him, Perseus arrived on the scene, and Atlas asked who he was and where he had come from; and when Perseus' words failed to persuade him to allow him to pass, he was compelled to show him the Gorgon's face and turned him to stone; and the mountain was called Atlas after him."

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Atlas Mountains in north west Africa

In later times, the Atlas mountains came to be associated with the range of that name in present day Morroco, but the Island of the Hesperides where the golden apples were to be found, was not in Morrocco or Africa, but deep in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean, in other words on the Atlantic Island - Atlantis

if we are correct in our assumption that the island of Atlantis is South America, how much more logical it would be that the actual original mountains of Atlas would be what today are called the Andes, which rise to double the height of their counterparts in Morocco. The Altiplano is a level plateau, 12,000 feet up in the sky flanked on either side by the Andes mountains which seem as if they are "pillars keeping the sky up". Furthermore, when we examine this region of the Altiplano in Bolivia, we find that this high plateau is known locally as "the place where Heaven meets Earth."

We should note, that although often shown as carrying the globe on his shoulders, it was not originally the Earth which Atlas carried, but the celestial sphere - the sky, the heavens etc.

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Atlas depicted as holding up the celestial sphere

"Atl" in the Aztec "nahuatl" language means "water" or "in the middle" or "in the middle of water". We might wonder how an Aztec word came to be found as part of the name of one of the Greek gods. The explanation is that the Greek pantheon of gods is thought to have been borrowed from the Egyptian, or from Near Eastern origins. And the story of Atlas supporting columns that hold earth and sky apart is very similar to the Egyptian idea of Nut (the sky) being held apart from her brother, Geb (the earth) by their father Shu, who corresponds to the Greek, Atlas.

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The peaks of the Andes are like pillars holding up the sky....

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Volcan Tunupa in the centre of the rectangular Altiplano rises to a height of about 5200 metres (17060ft) ....

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Volcan Tunupa is in the centre of the rectangular Altiplano surrounded today by salt salars which turn to lakes in the wet season when they flood. It can be likened to a Mount Atlas, holding up the sky and in the sense of the Nahuatl word "atl" meaning "water" or "surrounded by water".... Atlas "knew the sea in all its depths" and Tunupa was the god of rivers and waterways, a sort of equivalent of Poseidon or the son of Poseidon - Atlas.....

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Volcan Tunupa when the salar turns into a salty sea.

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The central peak of Volcan Tunupa holds up the sky.


Volcan Sajama in the north-west corner of the rectangular Altiplano rises to 21,448ft (6537 metres) and is sometimes considered to be Pacha Mama or Mother Earth herself - Gaia in the language of the western world....

In Plato's version, Atlas is the eldest son of Poseidon, but according to Hyginus (Fab. Praef.), he was a son of Aether and Gaia.

Aether , in Greek mythology, is one of the Protogenoi, the first-born elemental gods. He is the personification of the upper sky, space, and heaven, and is the elemental god of the "Bright, Glowing, Upper Air." He is the pure upper air that the gods breathe, as opposed to the normal air, mortals breathe. Hyginus is also our source for telling us that Aether is the father of Uranus and Gaia. But another source tells us that it is just Uranus who is his child


Uranus Uranus is the Latinized form of Ouranos, the Greek word for sky (a cognate of the English word air). In Greek mythology, Uranus, or Father Sky, is personified as the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth (Hesiod, Theogony). Uranus and Gaia were ancestors of most of the Greek gods,

In the Olympian creation myth, as Hesiod tells it in Theogony, Uranus came every night to cover the earth and mate with Gaia, but he hated the children she bore him. Hesiod named their first six sons and six daughters the Titans, the three one-hundred-armed giants the Hecatonchires, and the one-eyed giants the Cyclopes.

After his castration, the Sky came no more to cover the Earth at night, but held to its place, and "the original begetting came to an end" (Kerényi). He was simply the sky, which was conceived by the ancients as an overarching dome or roof of bronze, held in place (or turned on an axis) by the Titan Atlas. In formulaic expressions in the Homeric poems Ouranos is sometimes an alternative to Olympus as the collective home of the gods; an obvious occurrence would be the moment at the end of Iliad I, when Thetis rises from the sea to plead with Zeus: "and early in the morning she rose up to greet Ouranos-and-Olympus and she found the son of Kronos ..." (source: Wikipedia)


Driving across the salar in the wet season - known locally as "where earth meets the sky....

  
Gallery of photos around the Altiplano, in the region of Sajama, volcan Tunupa and the Salar de Uyuni

The original Atlas however whose columns held up the Heavens, quote "also instructed (Hercules) quite freely in the knowledge of astrology. For Atlas had worked out the science of astrology to a degree surpassing others and had ingeniously discovered the spherical arrangement of the stars, and for that reason was generally believed to be bearing the entire firmament upon his shoulders."

"Atlas along with Phoebe were said to have ruled over the power of the moon."

Sometimes the Inca Quechua peoples were said to be People of the Sun, and the Aymara peoples People of the Moon. Little is known of the early Andean world of astronomy, but the Tiwanaku calendar shows it to have been one of great sophistication, with a solar year divided into 20 months and a calendar which synchronised the solar year with two lunar calendars so that every three solar years equalled 40 sidereal lunar months or 37 synodic lunar months, a soli-lunar calendar surpassing in sophistication anything found elsewhere in the ancient world.

tiwanaku calendar sunset animation
The Tiwanaku calendar - Lost Calendar of the Andes - click here


Homer, Odyssey 1. 52 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) : "Atlas the baleful; he knows the depths of all the seas, and he, no other, guards (or holds) the tall pillars that keep the sky and earth apart."

Hesiod, Theogony 507 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) : "Atlas through hard constraint upholds the wide heaven with unwearying head and arms, standing at the borders of the earth before the clear-voiced Hesperides (Ladies of the West); for this lot wise Zeus assigned to him."

Hesiod, Theogony 744 ff : "There [at the sources & ends of earth, sea, Tartaros] stands the awful home of murky Nyx (Night) wrapped in dark clouds. In front of it the son of Iapetos [Atlas] stands immovably upholding the wide heaven upon his head and unwearying hands, where Nyx (Night) and Hemera (Day) draw near and greet one another as they pass the great threshold of bronze."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 26. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) : "Atlas had worked out the science of astrology to a degree surpassing others and had ingeniously discovered the spherical arrangement of the stars, and for that reason was generally believed to be bearing the entire firmament upon his shoulders. Similarly in the case of Herakles, when he had brought to the Greeks the doctrine of the sphere, he gained great fame, as if he had taken over the burden of the firmament which Atlas had borne, since men intimated in this enigmatic way what had actually taken place."

Homer, Odyssey 1. 52 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) : "A wave-washed island [Ogygia], a wooded island in the navel of the seas. A goddess [Kalypso] has made her dwelling there whose father is Atlas the baleful."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 110 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) : "To Atlas and Okeanos’ daughter Pleione were born seven daughters called the Pleiades, whose names are Alkyone, Merope, Kelaino, Elektra, Sterope, Taygete, and Maia."

Hesiod, Astronomy Fragment 1 (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) : "The stormy Peleiades . . . lovely Teygeta, and dark-faced Elektra, and Alkyone, and bright Asterope, and Kelaino, and Maia, and Merope, whom glorious Atlas begot."

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Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 26. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) : But we must not fail to mention what the myths relate about Atlas and about the race of the Hesperides. The account runs like this: In the country known as Hesperitis there were two brothers whose fame was known abroad, Hesperos and Atlas. These brothers possessed flocks of sheep which excelled in beauty and were in colour of a golden yellow, this being the reason why the poets, in speaking of these sheep as mela, called them golden mela. Now Hesperos begat a daughter named Hesperis, who he gave in marriage to his brother and after whom the land was given the name Hesperitis; and Atlas begat by her seven daughters, who were named after their father Atlantides, and after their mother Hesperides. And since these Atlantides excelled in beauty and chastity, Busiris the king of the Aigyptians, the account says, was seized with a desire to get the maidens into his power; and consequently he dispatched pirates by sea with orders to seize the girls and deliver them into his hands . . . [Herakles slew Busiris.] Meanwhile the pirates had seized the girls while they were playing in a certain garden and carried them off, and fleeing swiftly to their ships had sailed away with them. Herakles came upon the pirates as they were taking their meal on a certain strand, and learning from the maidens what had taken place he slew the pirates to a man and brought the girls back to Atlas their father; and in return Atlas was so grateful to Herakles for his kindly deed that he not only gladly gave him such assistance as his Labour called for, but he also instructed him quite freely in the knowledge of astrology. For Atlas had worked out the science of astrology to a degree surpassing others and had ingeniously discovered the spherical arrangement of the stars, and for that reason was generally believed to be bearing the entire firmament upon his shoulders. Similarly in the case of Herakles, when he had brought to the Greeks the doctrine of the sphere, he gained great fame, as if he had taken over the burden of the firmament which Atlas had borne, since men intimated in this enigmatic way what had actually taken place."

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 113- 114 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) : "Eurystheus ordered Herakles to get golden apples from the Hesperides as an eleventh labour. These apples were not, as some maintain in Libya, but rather were with Atlas among the Hyperboreoi. Gaia (Earth) had given them to Zeus when he married Hera. An immortal serpent guarded them . . . With it the Hesperides (Evenings) themselves were posted as guards, by name Aigle, Erytheis, Hesperie, and Arethusa."

Hesiod, Theogony 215 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) : "The Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Okeanos."

Hesiod, Theogony 270 ff : "The Gorgones who dwell beyond glorious Okeanos in the frontier land towards Nyx (Night) where are the clear-voiced Hesperides."

Stesichorus, Geryoneis Frag S8 (from Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 2617) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III) (Greek lyric C6th to 7th B.C.) : "The beautiful island of the gods, where the Hesperides have their homes of solid gold."

Click here for References and quotes on Hesperides

Virgil, Aeneid 4. 480 (trans. Fairclough) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) : "Near Oceanus’ bound and the setting sun lies Aethiopia, farthest of lands, where mightiest Atlas on this shoulders turns the sphere, inset with gleaming stars . . . The fane of the Hesperides."

So Atlantis may have been written about in other historical accounts, but under different names such as the island of Calypso, or the island of the Hesperides, or Ogygia or even such as Aethiopia which today means in east Africa, but in former times may have meant north-west Africa or the Atlantic Island.

J.M. Allen Jan 2011
www.atlantisbolivia.org


atlantisbolivia.org