The Titanomachia and Zeus’ Rise to Power (page 46)

Chapter 1: The Early Gods

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Hymn to Apollo 3.334-36

Hera prayed, striking the ground flatwise with her hand, and speaking thus:

“Hear now, I pray, Earth and wide Heaven above and you Titan gods who dwell beneath the earth about great Tartarus, and from whom are sprung both gods and men! Greek Text

Aischylos, Prometheus Desmotes (Prometheus Bound) 219-21

joining with my mother, I should place myself, a welcome volunteer, on the side of Zeus; and it is by reason of my counsel that the cavernous gloom of Tartarus now hides ancient Cronus and his allies within it. Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 1.52-54

‘Tis a wooded isle, and therein dwells a goddess, daughter of Atlas of baneful mind, who knows the depths of every sea, and himself holds the tall pillars which keep earth and heaven apart. Greek Text

Hesiod, Theogony 517-20

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. Greek Text

Pindar, Pythian 289-90

And truly he, like Atlas, now strains against the weight of the sky, far from his ancestral land and his possessions. Greek Text

Aischylos, Prometheus Desmotes (Prometheus Bound) 347-50

For even if I am in sore plight, I would not wish affliction on everyone else. No, certainly, no! since, besides, I am distressed by the fate of my brother Atlas, who, towards the west, stands bearing on his shoulders the pillar of heaven and earth, a burden not easy for his arms to grasp. Greek Text

Hyginus, Fabulae 150

WAR WITH THE TITANS: After Juno saw that Epaphus, born of a concubine, ruled such a great kingdom, she saw to it that he should be killed while hunting, and encouraged the Titans to drive Jove from the kingdom and restore it to Saturn. When they tried to mount heaven, Jove with the help of Minerva, Apollo, and Diana, cast them headlong into Tartarus. On Atlas, who had been their leader, he put the vault of the sky; even now he is said to hold up the sky on his shoulders. Latin Text

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.631-62

There dwelt
huge Atlas, vaster than the race of man:
son of Iapetus, his lordly sway
extended over those extreme domains,
and over oceans that command their waves
to take the panting coursers of the Sun,
and bathe the wearied Chariot of the Day.

For him a thousand flocks, a thousand herds
overwandered pasture fields; and neighbour tribes
might none disturb that land. Aglint with gold
bright leaves adorn the trees,—boughs golden-wrought
bear apples of pure gold. And Perseus spoke
to Atlas, “O my friend, if thou art moved
to hear the story of a noble race,
the author of my life is Jupiter;
if valiant deeds perhaps are thy delight
mine may deserve thy praise.—Behold of thee
kind treatment I implore—a place of rest.”

But Atlas, mindful of an oracle
since by Themis, the Parnassian, told,
recalled these words, “O Atlas! mark the day
a son of Jupiter shall come to spoil;
for when thy trees been stripped of golden fruit,
the glory shall be his.”

Fearful of this,
Atlas had built solid walls around
his orchard, and secured a dragon, huge,
that kept perpetual guard, and thence expelled
all strangers from his land. Wherefore he said,
“Begone! The glory of your deeds is all
pretense; even Jupiter, will fail your need.”

With that he added force and strove to drive
the hesitating Alien from his doors;
who pled reprieve or threatened with bold words.
Although he dared not rival Atlas’ might,
Perseus made this reply; “For that my love
you hold in light esteem, let this be yours.”
He said no more, but turning his own face,
he showed upon his left Medusa’s head,
abhorrent features.—Atlas, huge and vast,
becomes a mountain—His great beard and hair
are forests, and his shoulders and his hands
mountainous ridges, and his head the top
of a high peak;—his bones are changed to rocks.

Augmented on all sides, enormous height
attains his growth; for so ordained it, ye,
O mighty Gods! who now the heavens’ expanse
unnumbered stars, on him command to rest. Latin Text

♠ Scholia at Lykophron, Alexandra 879 – Lykophronis Alexandra, vol. 2, p. 284, ed E. Scheer. Berlin 1908.

Greek Text

♠ Polyidos 837 PMG – Poetae Melici Graeci, p. 441, ed. D. L. Page. Oxford 1962.

Polyidos the dithyrambic poet represents him (Atlas) as being a shepherd. He adds that, when Perseus was passing by, the giant questioned the hero about his identity and place of origin. When Perseus’s answers did not convince the giant, the hero was forced to show him the Gorgon’s face and so turned him to stone. And from him, the Atlas mountain got its name (according to Lycophron in his commentary).  (Transl. Mary Emerson)

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Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, July 2020

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