atlantes [Latin plural of Atlas], sculptured male figures serving as supports of entablatures, in place of a column or pier. The earliest (c.480-460 B.C.) and most important example from antiquity is in the Greek temple of Zeus at Agrigento, Sicily. The baroque architecture of the 17th cent. made considerable use of atlantes, as did the classical revival in the early 19th cent. Female supporting figures are called caryatids.

Male figure used as a column to support an entablature, balcony, or other projection, originating in Classical architecture. Such figures are posed as if supporting great weights, like Atlas bearing the world. The related telamon of Roman architecture, the male counterpart of the caryatid, is also a weight-bearing figure but does not usually appear in an atlas pose.

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Mountain system, northwestern Africa. It extends some 1,200 mi (2,000 km) from the Moroccan port of Agadir in the southwest to the Tunisian capital of Tunis in the northeast. It comprises several ranges, rising to various elevations, including the High Atlas in Morocco; the Tell, or Maritime, Atlas, which runs along the coast from Morocco to Tunisia; and the Saharan Atlas in Algeria, located farther inland and running adjacent to the Sahara. Among these ranges are situated numerous plateaus and plains that support diverse ecologies. The system's highest peak is Morocco's Mount Toubkal, elevation 13,665 ft (4,165 m).

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In Greek mythology, the strong man who supported the weight of the heavens on his shoulders. He was the son of the Titan Iapetus and the nymph Clymene (or Asia) and the brother of Prometheus. According to Hesiod, Atlas was one of the Titans who waged war against Zeus, and as punishment he was condemned to hold aloft the heavens.

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