My world has been upended.
I just found out that Atlas, in Greek mythology, was supposed to hold up the sky/heavens and not the Earth, as commonly if not universally depicted. This I can handle; the masses are ignorant, and misrepresentations will happen over the course of millenia. But what I can’t handle is the fact that this undermines the entire metaphor–not to mention the title–of Atlas Shrugged, in which the most intelligent and productive characters are portrayed as the Atlases of society, supporting the weight of the world and humanity on their proverbial shoulders.
So I get that Atlas, in both Greek mythology and Atlas Shrugged, is supposed to represent endurance and strength. But the actual story of how he acquired his position of responsibility throws me off because it doesn’t reveal his motivations. Sure, he held up the sky for a long-ass time because Zeus made him do it. And sure, he did a great job while he was at it. But did he give a shit about the welfare of the world or for anyone except maybe himself? Did he care about ideas or causes before the sky was foisted on him? We don’t know. At least I don’t know, and no one online seems to know either. All we know, according to Wikipedia, is that after he held up the sky for a while, he attempted to get out of it by trying to sucker Heracles into doing his job (and failed because Heracles was too smart).
So I’m fine with the idea of Atlas not actually holding up the Earth. But what was his (a.k.a. Zeus’) purpose for holding up the sky and keeping it away from the Earth? If the reason for this were somehow related to preserving the welfare of the world or the gods, it would all make sense. But for now, I simply don’t know. Does anyone else?