Atlas in Greek Mythology
A legendary Titan in Greek mythology, Atlas, supported the sky on his shoulders. He is one of the most popular characters in Greek mythology. Atlas was the son of Iapetos and the Oceanid Clymene which makes Atlas the brother of some notable Titans, including Prometheus and Epimetheus. Hesiod gives one of the most memorable stories about Atlas - the tale of how he was forced to hold up the heavens. According to Hesiod:
"By harsh necessity,
Atlas supports the broad sky
on his head and unwearying arms,
at the earth's limits, near the clear voiced Hesperides,
for his is the doom decreed for him
by Zeus the counselor."
In one another legend, Atlas offered to assist Herakles in his task of obtaining the apples that were safeguarded by these nymphs who watched over the Golden Apple tree. The Titan then proposed a plan - he would retrieve the apples if Herakles would, in return, hold up the sky in his place. The hero Herakles agreed to this deal. Atlas however had hidden motives for helping. He would have left Herakles holding the heavens, but the hero either forced or tricked Atlas into taking back his burden. Thus Atlas resumed his role as the tireless Titan who supported the sky on his shoulders.