Asymptote, a line (straight or curved) tangent to a curve, but having its point of contact with the curve at an infinite distance. If a weight were hung upon a cord, the ends of which were fastened to pins at unequal heights, the weight would slide to a point nearer the lower pin. Let now the cord gradually yield to the weight, and be stretched to an indefinite length, the weight, sliding constantly toward the middle of the cord, would move in a curve; and a vertical line midway between the pins would be an asymptote to that curve.


Atascosa, a S. county of Texas, watered by the San Miguel river and Atascosa creek, branches of the Nueces; area, 1,262 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 2,915. It is a stock-raising county, and about three fourths of the surface is prairie. The soil is sandy and easy of cultivation; and the climate is particularly healthy. In 1870 the county produced 36,371 bushels of corn, 11,839 of sweet potatoes, and 22,877 lbs. of wool. There were 97,622 cattle, 6,370 horses, 8,187 sheep, and 13,590 hogs. Capital, Pleas-onton.

Ataulphus, Or Atanlf (Adolphus)

Ataulphus, Or Atanlf (Adolphus), king of the Visigoths, as successor to Alaric (410), to whom his sister was given in marriage, died in 415. He joined Alaric in Italy with an army of Goths and Huns, and aided him in the siege of Rome. After the death of his brother-in- law, Ataulphus marched into Gaul, carrying with him captive Placidia, the sister of the emperor Ilonorius. The Gallic provinces of the empire were then in dispute between Jovinus and Honorius. Ataulphus offered to treat with Jovinus, but being repulsed made similar proposals to Honorius, and defeated and slew Jovinus. Honorius, however, would not be reconciled with the abductor of his sister, and Constantius, to whom Placidia had been espoused, harassed the Gothic kingdom, until in 414 the barbarians were compelled to withdraw, burning Bordeaux as they left, and crossing the Pyrenees into Spain. Ataulphus was assassinated by one of his equerries.


Atbara, the principal eastern affluent of the Nile, rising in Abyssinia. (See Nile, and Abyssinia).


Atchafalaya, a river and bayou of Louisiana, connecting with the Mississippi near the mouth of the Red river, but receiving very little of its waters except in time of flood. Its course is nearly south to Lake Chetimaches or Grand lake, through which it passes, and from which, in a greatly enlarged stream, it discharges itself into Atchafalaya bay. Its name signifies lost river, and it is supposed by geographers to have formed the old bed of the Red river. The Teche and Courtableau are its principal tributaries. Its whole course is about 260 m.


Ate, a Greek deity, daughter of Eris or of Zeus. In the tragic poets she is the punisher of those who perpetrate crime; in the epic she is the instigator of gods and men to deeds which superinduce misfortunes. In this character she persuaded Jupiter to take an oath, which afterward enabled Juno to transfer to Eurystheus the power that had been intended for Hercules. When Jupiter perceived what he had done, he cast Ate from Olympus.