The Story of Atlas a Greek Myth

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This Greek myth is specially adapted for kids

Once upon a time, long before the days of smartphones and playgrounds, there were beings called Titans who roamed the earth. They were powerful and mighty, and among them was Atlas, who was known for his strength and his endurance.

But the Titans and the Olympian gods, who lived on Mount Olympus, didn’t get along. They had a terrible battle called the Titanomachy, which shook the earth from its roots to the skies. The Olympians, led by Zeus, were the victors, and they didn’t forget those who had opposed them.

Atlas was one of those Titans, and as a punishment for fighting against the Olympians, Zeus gave him a very heavy burden. He said to Atlas:

“Atlas, your strength is unmatched, but you have opposed us. Now you shall hold up the sky, so it does not fall onto the earth.”

Poor Atlas! He was taken to the edge of the earth and given the sky to bear on his shoulders. It was not the sky as we know it, blue and vast, but the celestial sphere, a solid dome with all the stars and constellations on it.

For many years, Atlas stood there, holding the sky, never able to sit or rest. His feet grew roots into the ground, and his skin became like the bark of trees. He became a part of the land, a mountain that reached into the heavens.

One day, a clever and brave hero named Hercules came along with a request. Hercules was on a quest to complete twelve labors, and one of them was to fetch some golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides, which was watched over by Atlas’s daughters.

Hercules approached Atlas and said, “Mighty Atlas, I am in need of the golden apples from your daughters’ garden. Could you fetch them for me?”

Atlas saw an opportunity and replied, “I shall get you the apples, but you must hold the sky for me while I’m gone.”

Hercules, being strong himself, agreed. He took the weight of the sky upon his shoulders, and Atlas was free for the first time in ages. He walked away, feeling lighter with every step.

After getting the apples, Atlas had a thought, “What if I left Hercules to hold the sky forever?” But when he returned, Hercules was clever and said, “I will hold the sky for you, but can you take it back just for a moment while I adjust my cloak to cushion my shoulders?”

Atlas agreed, but as soon as he took the sky back, Hercules grabbed the apples and ran. Atlas was left to hold the sky forever, as he does to this day, a reminder of the ancient battle and the power of the Olympian gods.

And so, dear children, whenever you look up at the mountains touching the skies, remember the story of Atlas, who stands tall, holding the heavens, a Titan who became a mountain.

Also Read: Aphrodite: The Goddess, A Gift of Love

Follow Up Questions

Why was Atlas punished by Zeus?
What was Atlas’s punishment?
How did Hercules trick Atlas in the story?

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