If you missed my article on Sun Wukong, you can find it here.
Atlas is a Greek Titan. This means he was part of the ruling Gods in Greece until the Olympian Gods came along. Atlas held the Heavens up off Gaia (the Earth), his eternal punishment for leading the Titans into battle against the Olympians. He has a mountain range named after him, and Atlantis translates to Atlas’s Island. We know about astronomy because Atlas taught us about the stars.
Atlas’s father is Iapetus. His mother is Clymene. Atlas has siblings are Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius. He has had two consorts, Pleione and Hesperides. Between them, he has mostly daughters. There is Dione, Calypso, Hyas, his only son, the Hesperides (the nymphs of the evening) aka the Alantides, The Hyades (the nymphs that bring rain), and the Pleiades (the companions of Artemis).
Atlas is the man you often see holding up the Earth. It is a powerful image but not accurate to Atlas. The ones he is holding a celestial globe are but not the world. His punishment is to keep the heavens off of Gaia (the Earth), not to support the world on his shoulder. If you recall, this is Atlas’s eternity for leading the charge against the Olympians during the Titanomachy. Most of the Titans that went against the Olympians were sentenced to Tartarus. You had to either be powerful enough for the Olympians to leave you alone such as Nyx and Hecate, sided with them, or have pissed them off to be a Titan out of Tartarus, i.e., Atlas and Prometheus.
Atlas had two different notable encounters with Heracles. The first was when Heracles was doing his twelve labors. He had to retrieve the three golden apples from Hera’s garden that the Hesperides protected, Atlas’s daughters. Prometheus had suggested that Heracles have Atlas retrieve them. Heracles took this advice and, with the help of Athena, shouldered Atlas’s burden while he got them. Being free, even briefly, gave Atlas pause about resuming his place. Heracles had to trick him into taking the weight back. Even so, Heracles came back to him later to help. Heracles built pillars that sat in Atlas’s place to continue holding the Heavens up off of Gaia and gave Atlas more freedom in movement.
Atlas was confronted with Perseus next. In Perseus’s travels, he came upon Atlas and wanted shelter for the night. Atlas remembered being tricked by Heracles, so he said no. Perseus behaved like a Karen and showed Atlas the head of Medusa. This is how we got the Atlas Mountains.
We, humans, continue to see Atlas around us. The Atlantic Ocean gets its name from Atlas and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. But, as I said earlier, Atlantis is attributed to him also. We refer to collections of maps as atlases—what a clever way for a God to keep himself alive in our lives.
What do you think of Atlas as a playable character in Smite? Did you know any of this? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time.