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Myths are never fixed, and this is what makes them so enjoyable and also infuriating for scholars. Atlas appears in several myths, that were extremely popular among the Greeks and later the Romans. One that was especially popular involved the great hero Perseus. He was a son of Zeus and he was most famous for killing the Gorgon, Medusa. In one story that is beautifully retold by the Latin poet Ovid, Atlas is not holding up the world but is rather the king of a far-away land. The Titan is visited by Perseus, but Atlas remembers a prophecy, that foretold that he would be overthrown as ruler by a son of Zeus. Atlas began to grow fearful and he forbade Perseus from entering his land <ref>Ovid, The Metamorphoses, vii, 6</ref>. In Greek culture, hospitality was regarded as crucial for civilization, and to deny anyone hospitality was socially unacceptable behavior. Perseus was enraged by this and using the head of the Gorgon he turned Atlas into a huge mountain, and this was named after Atlas. This story is the origin myth of the Atlas Mountains, which are in the modern Kingdom of Morocco. There is another myth about the Titan and a Greek hero. In one myth, Atlas encountered Hercules, possibly the greatest of all the demi-gods and heroes. During one of his labors, which were in atonement for killing his family during a bout of madness, he visited Atlas while he was holding up the sky and heaven. Hercules had been ordered to steal Hera’s golden apples, these happened to be guarded by Atlas daughters<ref>Graves, p. 118</ref>. The hero was wary of Hera, the Queen of the Gods, and the wife of Zeus. He knew she hated him because he was born out of an extramarital affair between Zeus and his mother. Hercules was not all brawn and he also had brains and decided to make a bargain with Atlas. He approached the fallen Titan and asked him to steal the golden apples and if he did, he would hold up the sky for him. Atlas was tired of his labor and he welcomed some freedom. The Titan kept his word and managed to persuade his daughters to steal the apples for Hercules. There are two accounts of what happened next and one is that a grateful Hercules built a set of pillars that helped Atlas to bear the strain of lifting the sky. In another tale, Atlas tried to dupe Hercules and have him hold up the sky for all eternity, but the hero foiled his plans and escaped<ref>Graves, p. 115</ref>.
[[File: Atlas Three.jpg |200px|thumb|left| Gerardus Mercator alt text]]
==The meaning of the story of Atlas ==