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Atlas was forced by Zeus to hold up the sky.
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Atlas

Atlas is the son of Iapetus and Clymene, two of the twelve Titans. One day Zeus raged a war against his father, Cronus, for the right to be ruler of the gods. Atlas joined the side of the Titans and Cronus. After ten years, Zeus defeated Cronus and imprisoned the Titans in Tartarus. He also punished Atlas by giving him the task of holding up the sky.

There are many different myths that include Atlas and his punishment. One in particular is the story of Heracles and the Twelve Labors. It is said that Heracles wanted to be immortal, and so he had to perform the Twelve Labors. In one labor, Heracles had to pick golden apples from a tree guarded by the Hesperides and the serpent Ladon.

Heracles, with the help of Athena, supported the sky while Atlas picked the apples. Atlas thought he would be free from his job, but Heracles tricked him.He returned and once again held up the heavens. The fruit represents immortality because it was picked from the Tree of Life.

Today, atlas symbolizes a book of maps.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA