The son of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid Clymene, Atlas was forced by Zeus to stand on the western edge of the world and bear the sky on his tireless shoulders. This was presumably punishment for his role in the Titanomachy fighting with his brother Menoetius against the Gods, as well as against his other two brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus.
Atlas is primarily known for his involvement in two heroic tales. In the eleventh labor of Heracles, Atlas convinced Heracles to hold the sky for him while he retrieved the golden apples of the Hesperides. Freed of his burden, Atlas refused once again bear the sky. It was only after being deceived in turn by Heracles that Atlas resumed his eternal punishment. In another heroic tale, Perseus turns Atlas to stone using the Gorgon Medusa's severed head. This created the Atlas mountains of northwest Africa.
Atlas' daughter Maia bore the god Hermes in union with Zeus.