Atlas was a Titan, son of Iapetus and the nymph Clymene. According to the legend, he was the ruler of a beautiful island: Atlantis located beyond the columns of Hercules. Thanks to its advanced technology, the island was one of the most successful and richest countries.
But the Atlantes quickly became cruel and wicked looking to get richer. As Zeus didn’t like the situation, he allowed the Athenians to defeat and destroy this civilization. The Gods decided to end it once and for all, creating a titanic flood that engulfed Atlantis in one day and one night.
Atlas managed to escape the flood and joined Cronos to take part in the war against Zeus and the Gods of Olympus: The Titanomachy.
The character of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders is quite popular in today’s society. But where did this legend begin?
The Reign of Uranus
It goes back to the creation of Earth and the reign of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth), famous genitors of the Titans. Uranus, greedy and arrogant, didn’t want offspring and decided to get rid of all his children by locking them in the bowels of the Earth.
Gaia, who could not stand the idea of seeing her children disappear, managed to rescue one of them hiding him from his father’s eyes, it was Cronos. The child rebelled against Uranus and cut off his genitals spilling blood on Gaia, the Earth.
Then, Cronos took the throne of his father. However, Uranus humiliated and defeated, threw a dark prophecy just before dying: Cronos would be overthrown by one of his own children too.
The Reign of Cronos
Immediately after mutilating his father, Cronos released his brothers and imprisoned the Cyclopes and the terrible Hecatonchires in Tartarus. The reign of the Titan of Time could begin.
Cronos married his sister Rhea and very quickly they had several children. Haunted by the prophecy of his father, he proved to be just as cruel as him, swallowing all of his children right after their birth – it was the case for Poseidon and Hades.
Like Gaia before her, Rhea rescued the last of her children by giving a stone to her husband. Cronos swallowed the rock believing that it was his last child and so ending the prophecy. Thus, Zeus was saved and grew up on the Mount Ida (Crete) Cronos being unaware of his existence.
Reaching adulthood, Zeus full of hatred and convictions decided to release his brothers and sisters from the tyrannical yoke of his father. The young God managed to make Cronos vomiting who spat out all his children. Zeus and his siblings took possession of Olympus whereas the Titan of Time retired on Mount Othrys.
While Zeus was reigning on Olympus, Cronos had not said his last word. A terrible war broke out between the clan of the New Gods and the clan of the Elders – mainly Titans.
The outcome of the war was uncertain; all the battles were more explosive than the others. Nobody could take a real advantage until Zeus decided on the advice of his grandmother Gaia to release the Cyclops and Hecatonchires (terrible monster with 50 heads and 100 arms) from the bowels of the earth.
Cyclops, seasoned blacksmiths, vowed an ancestral hate to the Titans who had imprisoned them in Tartarus. In addition to unite with the New Gods, they offered a priceless gift to Zeus: Lightning and Thunder.
After 10 years of an endless war, the new powers of Zeus put an end to the conflict. He locked up all the Titans in the bowels of the Earth under the watch of the Hecatonchires, guardians of the Tartarus.
Atlas who showed a fighting spirit and extraordinary strength – it is said that he was able to lift and move mountains – had a special treatment. Zeus punished him to carry on his shoulders the canopy of heaven until the end of his life.
In the current representation and for most people, Atlas carries the Terrestrial globe on his back. But in the myth, the Titan carries the sky, he is the pillar supposed to prevent the celestial ceiling to fall on Earth.
Atlas is a force of nature, an emblematic figure of the Greek Mythology as we like at Russcoffitness !