Welcome to You Ask Andy

Larry Reiman age 8, of Bronx, N.Y,,

Who was the Atlantic Ocean named after?

In olden days, people believed that the earth was flat. They were forever worrying lest they come to the edge and fall right off, They also worried about how this flat earth was propped up, Surely, they thought, such a huge flat piece of ground should be propped up like a table. So they invented a giant. They named him Atlas and said that his job was to prop up the big pillars, or table legs, that propped up the flat earth. They never explained what propped up the big giant.

Atlas, they thought, must be rather like a big mountain. So they named a big mountain Atlas in his honor. This mountain still stands in Libra in North Africa. Pretty soon, people were calling this part of North Africa Atlasland, or the Atlantic neighborhood.

They knew there was a vast and mysterious sea to the west of Africa. Like Atlas, it was big and strange and rather frightening. So they named it the Atlantic. It is a nice sounding name and we still use it to name the stormy ocean that separates the old world from the new. However, we no longer Delleve that the world is propped up by a giant named Atlas. We know that it is round like a ball. We could never come to the edge and fall right off. When we travel all the way around it, we arrive back all safe and sound from where we started.

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