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Main Entry: atĚlas
Etymology: named for Atlas, a giant in Greek mythology : a book of maps Word History Atlas was one of the giants of Greek mythology who ruled the world in an early age. Their rule was overthrown after a mighty battle with other gods. After his defeat, the story goes, Atlas was forced to hold up the sky on his shoulders. In the 16th century the Flemish mapmaker Gerardus Mercator published a collection of maps. On the title page he showed a picture of Atlas supporting his burden. Mercator gave the book the title Atlas. Later collections of maps included similar pictures of Atlas, and such books came to be called atlases.