Why Is a Book of Maps Called an Atlas?

Atlas was a Greek god who supposedly held up the earth on his shoulders.

The Greeks usually represented him supporting two huge pillars that held up the earth, and these pillars rested in the sea we call the Atlantic Ocean, named after Atlas.

In later centuries, the figure of Atlas holding up the earth was often used at the front of a book of maps. So, a book of maps became known as an atlas!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

3 thoughts on “Why Is a Book of Maps Called an Atlas?”

  1. Atlas,along with his brother and others waged war against the Olympians. When they lost, Atlas’ punishment was to hold up the SKY not the earth. the common image of atlas bent on one knee while supporting a globe on his back was originally the sphere of celestial bodies NOT the earth. His association with cartography stems from the use of his image(not his name) on the cover of a book of geographical maps by Antonio Lafreri.Not until Gerardus Mercator was the image AND name of Atlas used as the cover of a book of maps. the rest, as they say is history

  2. An tall giant called Atlas held the earth on his shoulders and head for 1000 years so they named the book of maps is called atlas

Leave a Comment