Atlas: Meet the Greek Titan Condemned by Zeus


     Atlas is, in Greek Mythology, one of the most well-known Titans and also punished by Zeus with the weight of holding the sky for all eternity, know his history.

Atlas in Greek Mythology:

     Atlas (or Atlante), in Greek Mythology, is one of the titans condemned by Zeus to sustain the skies forever. He was married to Pleione, with whom he had seven daughters known as Pleiades, as well as seven daughters who were nymphs, the Hesperides.

     Although associated with several places, it has become commonly identified with the Atlas Mountains in northwest Africa (present-day Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). Atlas was the son of the titan Iapetus and ocean Asia.

Zeus, Myth and Atlas Punishment:

     Joining other titans, forces of chaos and disorder sought to attain supreme power and attacked Mount Olympus, fiercely fighting Zeus and his allies, who were the energies of spirit, order and the Cosmos. Zeus triumphed and punished his enemies, who were slaves to matter and the senses, enemies of spiritualization, casting them into Tartarus.

     However, for Atlas, it gave him the punishment of holding the sky forever on his shoulders. His name came to mean "bearer" or "sufferer". Thus punished, he started to live in the country of the Hesperides, the three nymphs of the West: Eagle, Eritia, Hesperatetusa.

     In the lands of the Hesperides, nymphs of the west, golden apples were planted, which had been the wedding gift offered by Earth at the wedding of Zeus and Hera. The goddess had planted them in the garden of the gods and, in order to protect the tree and the fruits, she had left under the guard of a dragon with a hundred heads and the three nymphs of the west.

     Hercules in his twelve jobs had been tasked with bringing the golden apples, but he knew that only Atlas would be able to harvest them. Hercules set out to hold onto the sky while Atlas picked the apples and he hoped to deliver them personally to Euristeu.

     However, Hercules tricked him into asking him to hold onto the sky again while he kept the apples, and ran away. For this reason, the pillars were built, thus freeing Atlas from its burden.

Atlas and Hercules:

     Atlas became the guardian of the Pillars of Hercules, upon which the heavens were placed, and which were also the gateway to the oceanic home of Atlantis, the Strait of Gibraltar, and for this reason the entire mountain range of North Africa was named Atlas Mountains. He became the first king of Atlantis, and because he was the lord of distant waters, in addition to the Mediterranean Sea, his name was used to designate the Atlantic Ocean.

     He married Pleione, having seven daughters, the Pleiades: Alcíone, Maia, Electra, Mérope, Taigete, Celeno and Astérope. Knowing the path of distant lands, in cartography he came to represent the collection of maps of the Earth. And because it held the sky, Atlas was named after the first vertebra in the cervical spine, a reference to the gigantic weight he was condemned to bear.

     The Atlas Myth represents the weight of the daily difficulties that weigh on our shoulders and, although we can consider them to be too heavy, what is on Atlas, the first vertebra of the cervical spine, is only our head, which guards our mind.

The myth is related to the excess of duties, obligations, tasks that we accept and do not obey a limit, nor do we safeguard a space for relaxing activities. We believe that we can carry the world on our backs, which can cause physical and psychological damage. The Atlas complex is one of the stress-related illnesses of modern life.

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