Greek Name:Ἄτλας , αντος, ὁ,

Latin Name:Atlantes


Cultural Notes

Eat no living creature.

Geographical Notes

Near Mount Atlas, which is near a hill of salt, ten days' journey from the home of the Atarantes.

Citations in Herodotos

4.184 eat no living creature and see no dreams in sleep; 4.185 Altantes are the furthest people on the ridge who Herodotos can name

Key Passages in English Translation

[4.184] Another ten days' journey from the Garamantes there is again a salt hill and water, where men live called Atarantes. These are the only men whom we know who have no names; for the whole people are called Atarantes, but no man has a name of his own. [2] When the sun is high, they curse and very foully revile him, because his burning heat afflicts their people and their land. [3] After another ten days' journey there is again a hill of salt, and water, and men living there. Near to this salt is a mountain called Atlas, whose shape is slender and conical; and it is said to be so high that its heights cannot be seen, for clouds are always on them winter and summer. The people of the country call it the pillar of heaven. [4] These men get their name, which is Atlantes, from this mountain. It is said that they eat no living creature, and see no dreams in their sleep.

English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920. Retreived from <>

Key Passages in Greek

[4.184] ἀπὸ δὲ Γαραμάντων δι᾽ ἀλλέων δέκα ἡμερέων ὁδοῦ ἄλλος ἁλός τε κολωνὸς καὶ ὕδωρ, καὶ ἄνθρωποι περὶ αὐτὸν οἰκέουσι τοῖσι οὔνομα ἐστὶ Ἀτάραντες, οἳ ἀνώνυμοι εἰσὶ μοῦνοι ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡμεῖς ἴδμεν: ἁλέσι μὲν γάρ σφι ἐστὶ Ἀτάραντες οὔνομα, ἑνὶ δὲ ἑκάστῳ αὐτῶν οὔνομα οὐδὲν κέεται. [2] οὗτοι τῷ ἡλίῳ ὑπερβάλλοντι καταρῶνται καὶ πρὸς τούτοισι πάντα τὰ αἰσχρὰ λοιδορέονται, ὅτι σφέας καίων ἐπιτρίβει, αὐτούς τε τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ τὴν χώρην αὐτῶν. [3] μετὰ δὲ δι᾽ ἀλλέων δέκα ἡμερέων ἄλλος κολωνὸς ἁλὸς καὶ ὕδωρ, καὶ ἄνθρωποι περὶ αὐτὸν οἰκέουσι. ἔχεται δὲ τοῦ ἁλὸς Τούτου ὄρος τῷ οὔνομα ἐστὶ Ἄτλας, ἔστι δὲ στεινὸν καὶ κυκλοτερὲς πάντη, ὑψηλὸν δὲ οὕτω δή τι λέγεται ὡς τὰς κορυφὰς αὐτοῦ οὐκ οἶά τε εἶναι ἰδέσθαι. οὐδέκοτε γὰρ αὐτὰς ἀπολείπειν νέφεα οὔτε θέρεος οὔτε χειμῶνος. τοῦτο τὸν κίονα τοῦ οὐρανοῦ λέγουσι οἱ ἐπιχώριοι εἶναι. [4] ἐπὶ τούτου τοῦ ὄρεος οἱ ἄνθρωποι οὗτοι ἐπώνυμοι ἐγένοντο: καλέονται γὰρ δὴ Ἄτλαντες. λέγονται δὲ οὔτε ἔμψυχον οὐδὲν σιτέεσθαι οὔτε ἐνύπνια ὁρᾶν.

Other Testimonia

Pliny the Elder, The Natural History (ed. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A.):

Magium, the city of the latter people, has been placed by some writers amid the deserts, and, next to them the Atlantes; then the Ægipani, half men, half beasts, the Blemmyæ, the Gamphasantes, the Satyri, and the Himantopodes.

The Atlantes, if we believe what is said, have lost all characteristics of humanity; for there is no mode of distinguishing each other among them by names, and as they look upon the rising and the setting sun, they give utterance to direful imprecations against it, as being deadly to themselves and their lands; nor are they visited with dreams11, like the rest of mortals.

The Natural History. Pliny the Elder. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S. H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A. London. Taylor and Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street. 1855.

Pausanias, Description of Greece

[1.33.5] There are other Aethiopians who are neighbours of the Mauri and extend as far as the Nasamones. For the Nasamones, whom Herodotos calls the Atlantes, and those who profess to know the measurements of the earth name the Lixitae, are the Libyans who live the farthest close to Mount Atlas, and they do not till the ground at all, but live on wild vines. But neither these Aethiopians nor yet the Nasamones have any river. For the water near Atlas, which provides a beginning to three streams, does not make any of the streams a river, as the sand swallows it all up at once. So the Aethiopians dwell near no river Ocean.

Pausanias. Pausanias Description of Greece with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. Ormerod, M.A., in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918.

Other Commentary

Perseus Encyclopedia:

Atlantes, a people in Libya

W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotos:

Ἀτάραντες. The MSS. read Atlantes, which is obviously wrong. Salmasius restored Atarantes from Rhianus (in Eustathius ad Dionysii Orbis Desc. v. 66). H. seems to continue his description westwards (185. 1), but what tribe he means by the Atarantes it is impossible to say.

His story as to their being ‘nameless’ is probably a misunderstood echo of the African dread of magic; the name is regarded as a vital part of a man (Frazer, G. B. i. 404). Hence the care lest it should be known. For unwillingness to utter names cf. Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 139 seq.

ἔμψυχον οὐδέν. The purely vegetable diet of the Atlantes is an exaggerated generalization from the fact that the North Africans live mainly on dates and meal.

Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898):

(Ἄτλαντες). An African people living near Mt. Atlas who daily cursed the sun at its rising and setting for its heat. (Herod.iv. 184).



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