The British Gazette feels that one must feel sorry for Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Commission. Above is an image montage with Van Rompuy as Atlas holding up the world. Readers will note his apprehensive expression as he looks up at the huge weight that threatens to crush him!
There are in fact some curious parallels with our dearly beloved President and the Atlas of myth.
In Greek mythology, Atlas was the primordial Titan who supported the heavens. Atlas was the son of the Titan Iapetus. Iapetus took to wife the neat-ankled maid Clymene, daughter of Ocean, and went up with her into one bed. And she bore him a stout-hearted son, Atlas: also she bore very glamorous Menoetius and clever Prometheus, full of various wiles, and scatter-brained Epimetheus.
British Gazette readers will know the story: One of the Twelve Labours the hero Heracles had to perform was to fetch some of the golden apples which grew in Hera’s garden, tended by Atlas’s daughters, the Hesperides, and guarded by the dragon Ladon. Rather than face these dangers, Heracles went to Atlas and offered to hold up the heavens while Atlas got the apples from his daughters.
Upon his return with the apples, however, Atlas attempted to trick Heracles into carrying the sky permanently by offering to deliver the apples himself. Because anyone who purposely took the burden must carry it forever, or until someone else took it away from them. Heracles, suspecting Atlas did not intend to return, pretended to agree to Atlas’ offer, asking only that Atlas take the sky again for a few minutes so Heracles could rearrange his cloak as padding on his shoulders. When Atlas set down the apples and took the heavens upon his shoulders again, Heracles took the apples and ran away.
The same level of duplicity is of course found in the attempts to keep the wheels from falling of the Euro-wagen. How ironic that the chief casualty will be the European project with Greece running away from her creditors (words like Heracles, apples and running away come to mind!) leaving the strong European economies to hold up the sky to prevent it from falling!