Atlas was forced by Jupiter to hold up the sky.
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Courtesy of the Nova Development and Corel Corporations
In Roman mythology, the giant Atlas was the leader of the Titans who fought against the gods, who were presided by Jupiter
. Jupiter was fighting against his father, the Titan Saturn
, to gain control of the world.
After a ten year struggle, Jupiter
defeated his despotic father, and assumed control of the
Jupiter imposed severe punishments on the Titans. Atlas, as the Titans'
leader, received the exemplary punishment of carrying the vault of the sky
on his shoulders.
A moon of the planet Saturn was named after Atlas for fighting with his brother Saturn.
Atlas had a wife, the nymph Pleione, who bore the
Pleiades and the Hyades.
He also was the father of the Hesperides, whose mother was Hesperis. The Hesperides were the guardians of a tree
of golden apples that the Earth goddess Gaea gave
Juno, Jupiter' wife, as
a wedding present. The tree had a secret location.
Nevertheless, Atlas was told by an oracle that a son of Jupiter would one day steal the golden apples guarded by
his daughters, the Hesperides. For this reason, he refused hospitality to
anyone. Because of Atlas' inhospitality, Perseus showed him the Gorgon
Medusa's head, which turned Atlas to stone. This myth was considered the
origin of the formation of the Atlas mountains in Morocco.
In a different version of the story, Hercules was ordered to fetch the golden apples as
one of his twelve labors. Hercules persuaded Atlas to take them on his
behalf, while Hercules would support the sky instead of him. Atlas accepted thinking to leave Hercules supporting the heavens forever. When he returned with the apples, Atlas told Heracles that he himself would deliver the apples to the
king, Eurystheus. However, pretending to adjust the weight on his
shoulders, Hercules tricked Atlas, who was left without the apples and with his duty resumed.
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