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Guercino (1591–1666) Title: Atlas holding up the celestial globe
Guercino (1591–1666) Title: Atlas holding up the celestial globe

Atlas was one of the primordial Titans the son of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid Asia.

"Now Iapetus took to wife the neat-ankled maid Clymene, daughter of Ocean, and went up with her into one bed. And she bare him a stout-hearted son, Atlas: also she bare very glorious Menoetius and clever Prometheus, full of various wiles, and scatter-brained Epimetheus."

Hyginus emphasises the primordial nature of Atlas by making him the son of Aether and Gaea. Titans and a Titaness were assigned each of the seven planetary powers, Atlas is paired with Phoebe and governs the moon. He had three brothers — Prometheus, Epimetheus and Menoetius.


Atlas, along with his brother Menoetius, sided with the Titans in their war against the Olympians, the Titanomachy. His brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus weighed the odds and betrayed the other Titans by forming an alliance with the Olympians. When the Titans were defeated , many of them (including Menoetius) were confined to Tartarus, but Zeus condemned Atlas to stand at the western edge of the Gaia, the Earth and hold up Ouranos, the Sky on his shoulders, to prevent the two from resuming their primordial embrace.

Encounter with Heracles

One of the hero Hercules' Twelve Labors involved the acquisition of some of the golden apples which grow in Hera's garden, tended by the Hesperides and guarded by the dragon Ladon. Heracles went to Atlas, the father of the Hesperides, and offered to hold the heavens for a little while in exchange for the apples, to which Atlas agreed. This would be an easy task for Atlas since he is related to the Hesperides who tend the apples in Hera's garden. Upon his return with the apples, however, Atlas attempted to trick Heracles into carrying the sky permanently by offering to deliver the apples himself. Heracles, suspecting Atlas didn't intend to return again, pretended to agree to Atlas' offer, asking only that Atlas take the sky again for a few minutes so Heracles could rearrange his cloak as padding on his shoulders. When Atlas set down the apples and took the heavens upon his shoulders again, Heracles took the apples and ran away.

Heracles instead built the two great Pillars of Hercules to hold the sky away from the earth, liberating Atlas much as he liberated Prometheus.


Atlas as the father, by different goddesses, of numerous children, mostly daughters. Some of these are assigned conflicting or overlapping identities or parentage in different sources.

* by Hesperis, the Hesperides;
* by Pleione (or Aithra)

* the Hyades
* a son, Hyas
* the Pleiades

* and by one or more unspecified goddesses

* Calypso, the witch who offered to make Odysseus immortal during his journey back home to Penelope (his wife).
* Dione
* Maera.

Originally Posted on

Scott Green's Creature Catalog

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Titan, Greater, Atlas
Gargantuan outsider (Chaotic, Evil, Extraplanar)
Hit Dice 41d8+697 (901 hp)
Initiative +5
Speed 60 ft (12 squares), fly 80 (perfect)
Armor Class 44 (-4 size, +5 Dexterity, +33 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 39
Base Attack/Grapple +41/+82
Attack Slam +61 melee (8d10+28)
Full Attack 2 slams +61 melee (8d10+28)
Space/Reach 20 ft/20 ft
Special Attacks Spell-like abilities
Special Qualities Damage reduction 15/epic, Darkvision 60 ft, evasion, fast healing 3, feat of strength, Spell Resistance 45, unlimited strength, wholeness of body
Saves Fort +47, Ref +31, Will +36
Abilities Strength 50, Dexterity 20, Constitution 44, Intelligence 27, Wisdom 30, Charisma 28
Skills Balance +25, Bluff +44, Climb +55 (+57 with rope), Concentration +52, Craft (blacksmithing) +46, Diplomacy +33, Disguise +9 (+11 in character), Escape Artist +20 (+22 with rope), Heal +38, Intimidate +68, Jump +59, Knowledge (history) +53, Knowledge (religion) +48, Knowledge (the planes) +43, Listen +52, Move Silently +35, Search +43, Sense Motive +45, Spellcraft +38, Spot +52, Survival +10 (+12 following tracks, +12 on other planes), Swim +53, Rope Use+28 (+30 with bindings)
Feats Alertness, Awesome Blow, Deflect Arrows (B), greater weapon specialization (slam), Improved Grapple (B), Improved Unarmed Strike (B), Improved Sunder (B), Power Attack, Weapon Focus (slam), Weapon Specialization (slam)
Epic Feats Epic Fortitude, Epic Prowess, Epic Toughness, Epic Weapon Focus (slam), Epic Weapon Specialization (slam), Fast Healing, Legendary Wrestler
Environment Tarterian
Organization Solitary
Challenge Rating 30
Treasure Double standard
Alignment Always chaotic evil
Advancement ---
Level Adjustment: ---

This gigantic humanoid has an unimaginably massive build, appearing to have muscles where muscles shouldn't be. His expression seems rather crafty.

Atlas is the embodiment of physical might, and is considered strength personified. He draws energy from the Material plane, and while there he seems to have no limit to his strength.

Despite his alignment, Atlas can actually be very honorable, and it is well known that if he gives his word on a matter he will keep even if this oath means his death.

Atlas (whose name means "he who dares or suffers") was the son of the Titan Iapetus and the nymph Clymene, and the brother of Prometheus and Epimetheus. Hersperius bore the Herperides to Atlas, who were four beautiful nymphs (Aegle, Arethusa, Erytheia, and Hesperia) that lived in the mountains near Atlas. They are said to live in a beautifully tended garden, which is the source of Hera's golden apples. Heracles, as part of his Twelve Labors, tricked Atlas into picking the apples for him by offering to take his burden from him. Atlas is also father of Maera, the Hyades, Calypso the sea nymph and the Pleiades (the Seven Sisters, oreads); Hesperos is sometimes regarded as his son.

Atlas led the Titans in their struggles with the Olympians, and was thus condemned by Zeus to bear the weight of the earth and sky upon his shoulders forever. Though Atlas is officially a prisoner of Tarterus, part of his punishment involves spending most of his time on the Material Plane.

Atlas is 50 feet tall and weighs 225,000 pounds.

Atlas speaks Abyssal, Common, Celestial, Draconic, and Giant.


Atlas is not as destructive as some of the other greater titans, but he does have plenty of destructive capability. His fists pack quite a punch, and he usually relies on just hitting whatever stands in his way. When fighting a more powerful foe, Atlas will make use of his spell-like abilities, as well as his ability to increase his strength.

Atlas's natural weapons, as well as any weapons he wields, are treated as epic weapons for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction.

Spell-Like Abilities: At will · bestow curse (DC 23), chain lightning (DC 25), charm monster (DC 23), cure critical wounds, deeper darkness, fire storm (DC 26), greater dispel magic, Hold monster (DC 24), invisibility, Invisibility Purge, levitate, persistent image (DC 25), polymorph (humanoid forms only, duration 1 hour), protection from energy, read magic, unholy blight (DC 23);

3/day -clenched fist, grasping hand, divine power, Earthquake, etherealness, freedom of movement, greater teleport, Iron Body, power word stun, summon nature's ally IX, word of chaos (DC 26);

1/day -crushing hand, gate, maze, meteor swarm (DC 28), plane shift, wind walk.

Caster level 25th. The save DCs are Charisma-based.

Feat of Strength (Su): Atlas gains an enhancement bonus to Strength equal to +20. Activating the power is a free action, the power lasts 1 round, and it is usable 5 times per day.

Evasion (Ex): If Atlas makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. If helpless, Atlas does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Unlimited Strength (Su): While on the Material Plane, Atlas can perform seemingly impossible feats of lifting, bending, breaking, and any other physical feats. He automatically succeeds on any Strength check to perform such feats. This ability cannot be used during combat.

Wholeness of Body (Su): Atlas can Heal his own wounds. He can Heal 41 hit points of damage each day, and he can spread this healing out among several uses.

1980 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Originally found in the first edition Deities and Demigods (1980, James M. Ward and Robert J. Kuntz).

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