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A picture showing the legend of ATLAS taken from our Greek mythology archives. Illustration by Chas Saunders. Read the story below or search the index for more Greek Gods, Greek Goddesses, heroes, demons and monsters!

God of Weightlifting and Heavy Burdens

He's the one with weight of the universe on his shoulders. During the war of the TITANS, ATLAS stormed Mount OLYMPUS and threatened the Gods. And as punishment for this war crime, ZEUS sentenced him to hold up the heavens and bear their weight on his shoulders forever.

Now the heavens might be made mostly of cloud, but you'd be surprised how heavy they are. (In fact it's a miracle they managed to stay up so long before ATLAS showed up.) So ATLAS was very relieved when the laboring HERACLES came along offering to give him a hand in return for a little help with some Golden Apples from the HESPERIDES.

ATLAS nipped off to get the apples but wasn't inclined to resume his burden. "Here, hold this a minute while I scratch my back," said HERACLES. And ATLAS, not the brightest apple in the barrel, did so while HERACLES made a sharp exit.

The awful burden was made slightly easier for ATLAS to bear when PERSEUS came along and turned him to stone with the head of MEDUSA. He's now known as Mount Atlas.

ATLAS is usually depicted as a strong silent type carrying a globe. (Well, it's easier to draw than the heavens.) Just for the record he was the son of CLYMENE and IAPETUS.

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Article last updated on 17 February 2013
Authors: Peter J Allen and Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.

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Godchecker's article on Atlas is based on material from ancient texts, original references and our own research. We strive for accuracy and update regularly with new information. If you spot a mistake please contact us and we'll try to fix it.

Suggested further reading...
Name : ATLAS
Location : Ancient Greece
Gender : Male
Type : Deity
Celebration or Feast Day : Unknown at present
Pronunciation : Coming soon
Alternative names : None known
Popularity index : 5603

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