|“||How little you know, my young goddess. Even now, your darling attendants begin their quest to find you. They shall play directly into my hands. Now, if you'll excuse us, we have a long journey to make. We must greet your Hunters and make sure their quest is... challenging.||”|
Atlas (also called "The General") is the Titan of endurance and the main antagonist of The Titan's Curse. As punishment for leading the armies of Kronos against the gods in the first Titanomachy, Zeus forced him to hold up the sky for all eternity. He is Kronos' second-in-command and is in charge of recruiting monsters for the Titans' cause. While Kronos was regenerating inside of his sarcophagus, Atlas seemed to be in charge of the army.
Early LifeAtlas was the Titan of endurance and part of the second generation of Titans. He was born to Iapetus (the Titan of Mortality and Lord of the West) and Clymene (an Oceanid-Goddess of Fame), and his aunt Rhea helped deliver him. He was also the elder brother of Prometheus, Epimetheus and Menoetius (the Titan gods of forethought, afterthought and rashness respectively). Unlike the sophisticated Prometheus, and the awkward and unintelligent Epimetheus, Atlas was brutal and arrogant, frequently bragging about his incredible physical strength, which was only matched by that of his infamous uncle Kronos.
Re-Imprisoning his Uncles
Hence, Atlas would soon grow up to become Kronos' most powerful follower, and the General of the Titan King's forces (Kronos' second-in-command). As a result, Atlas was also one of the Titan King's most loyal followers. Atlas would also frequently approach his wise and clairvoyant uncle Koios with questions about the future. When Kronos grew disgusted by all of the unbearable noise that his Hekatonkheire and Elder Cyclopes brethren constantly made, as well as their revolting stench, he summoned Atlas and Hyperion. Together, the three strongest Titans overwhelmed their younger brothers, chained all six of them up, and hurled them into Tartarus once again, this time, guarded by Kampê, the most ferocious and terrifying monster in all of Tartarus that Kronos personally hired.
Consorts and Children
After marrying the Oceanid Pleione, Atlas fathered the five Hesperides (including Zoë Nightshade), and the seven Pleiades. He also had an affair with Tethys, which resulted in the birth of the nymph Calypso.
Shortly thereafter, while remaining fiercely loyal to Kronos, Atlas rarely visited him Mount Orthys, claiming to be too busy. Kronos, however, knew that the actual reason was Atlas' secret fear of his uncle's might, scythe, and infamous temper.
Zeus Rescues His Siblings
However, years later, after Kronos hired a young Titan by the name of Zeus (actually a god in disguise), Atlas was very entertained by the latter's excellent singing, dancing, and "satyr jokes", and took to visiting Kronos on Mount Orthys much more often. Shortly thereafter, Zeus encouraged Atlas to participate in the newly established Titanic drinking contests (actually a trap that he planed on using to rescue his siblings). As the Titan King of Mount Othrys, Kronos would always win, since he could not let his siblings or nephews overcome him in anything.
One evening, when Atlas was dining with his uncles and cousins, Zeus prepared nectar mixed with sleeping potion for Atlas, and a powerful emetic for Kronos himself. As before, Zeus entertained them all with his great singing, dancing, and jokes. Near the end of the Titanic banquet, Zeus encouraged all of the Titans to have yet another drinking contest and handed out the prepared goblets. As before, Kronos won the contest, but the emetic caused him to disgorge all his swallowed children, while Atlas and all the other titans was temporarily knocked out (right onto Hyperion's knees) by the sleeping potion, and could not stop them from escaping.Rhea paid him a personal visit, attempting to convince him to remain neutral in the upcoming conflict. However, due to his fierce loyalty to Kronos, Atlas refused. However, Prometheus and Epimetheus, Atlas' younger brothers, as well as all the Titanesses preferred to stay neutral in this conflict, as Prometheus could foresee that the gods would win.
As Kronos' General and second-in-command, Atlas was chosen to lead the other Titans in battle. He and the other Titans initially had the upper hand in their battles with the gods, since he was a very skilled swordsman and a much more experienced warrior. Hence, Atlas was initially known as the "terror of the gods." However, the gods quickly became skilled warriors as well, and with the help of their new extremely powerful weapons (Zeus' Master Bolt, Poseidon's Trident, and Hades' Helm of Darkness made by the Elder Cyclopes), as well as the aid of the Elder Cyclopes and Hekatonkheires, the gods finally prevailed.
During the final battle, Zeus used his Master Bolt to shear off the top of Mount Othrys, and hurl Kronos from his throne, defeating the Titan King. Shortly thereafter, the gods invaded the ruins of Mount Orthys, and finally overwhelmed the remaining Titans (including Atlas himself).
In the aftermath of the battle, Atlas was chained up by the Elder Cyclopes, after which the Hekatonkheires forced him to kneel before Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Zeus proceeded to taunt his cousin Atlas, along with his uncles Hyperion, Iapetus, Krios, and Koios. However, while the four Elder Titans hung their heads in shame, Atlas laughed right in Zeus' face, mocking what he considered to be the god's ignorance, revealing that the sky would collapse if the Titan Lords of the North, South, East and West were to be hurled into Tartarus. Zeus, however, already knew this, and revealed that he had already prepared a special punishment for the Titan General: to hold the weight of the entire sky on his own for all eternity. Hence, the Elder Cyclopes Arges, Brontes, and Steropes constructed a new central supporting column for the sky on Mount Orthys, chained Atlas to it, and forced the weight of the sky onto his shoulders.
Many years later, Atlas encountered Perseus (a son of his arch-rival Zeus). The demigod hero was on his way home to present Medusa's Head as a gift to King Polydectes. He stopped by the Garden of the Hesperides and asked Atlas if he could rest and in exchange he would tell him of his adventures. However, Atlas had once been told a prophecy that a son of Zeus would steal the Golden Apples, so he promptly refused to let the demigod stay. Perseus knew that he could not best Atlas, and proceeded to leave. In some myths however, it is said that Atlas was turned to stone by Perseus. However, it is stated in Rick Riordan's books that immortals aren't affected by Medusa's Head.
Eleventh Labor of HerculesMany years later, Atlas encountered Hercules (another son of Zeus and Perseus' great-grandson), who needed to obtain a Golden Apple from the Garden of the Hesperides for the eleventh of his Twelve Labors. Hercules could not gain the apples by himself as they were protected by the dragon Ladon, who was too powerful to fight, even for Hercules. Because of this, the son of Zeus went to Atlas to get the apples for him and in exchange, would hold the sky on his shoulders until he returned. Atlas readily agreed and went to get the apples, but when he returned, the Titan saw a chance to escape his punishment. Atlas offered to deliver the apples himself to King Eurystheus. Hercules, however, saw the trick and pretended to agree, but asked Atlas to hold the sky for only a moment, while Hercules padded his shoulders with his thick Nemean Lion's Pelt. This seemed reasonable to the Titan, who took the sky back, but Hercules simply took the apples from him and left, leaving an outraged and infuriated Atlas to endure his punishment once again. Luke takes the burden of the sky so Atlas himself could fight Kronos' battles. After that, Luke tricks Annabeth into holding the sky up after they capture her. Atlas then captures Artemis in an ambush and because of her sympathy towards maidens, Artemis takes the burden from Annabeth, trapping the goddess. Atlas sets out to gather monsters for Kronos's army and to hunt down the Ophiotaurus, whose incinerated entrails would allow its slayer to gain the power to destroy Olympus and the gods.
The General is next seen in the Air and Space Museum, where he summons Skeleton Warriors formed from Sybaris' Teeth, along with the aid of ancient rituals, to hunt down Percy and the others accompanying him.
He is finally encountered in San Francisco, where Atlas briefly faces off against Percy and Zoë simultaneously. They attack him to no avail, as Atlas toys with Percy with a javelin and effortlessly deflects Zoë's arrows. Percy then realizes that Artemis is the only one who can defeat him, and then frees the goddess, while enduring the weight of the sky himself. Artemis duels Atlas with two long hunting knives, luring him towards the sky. Due to Artemis's fatigue of holding the sky for an extended period of time, Atlas manages to corner her, taunting Artemis by saying she was "the first blood in a new war." Zoë moves in to defend Artemis, but Atlas knocks her into the rocks, speeding up a poison bite recently given to her by Ladon, which kills her. Artemis blocks Atlas's final blow and knocks him back under the sky, taking his freedom from him once again and pinning him down. Atlas curses and bellows at the gang as they fly away in Artemis' moon chariot.
Atlas is heard moaning under the weight of the sky when Percy and his friends find themselves at Mount Othrys. Also, when Percy falls out of the sky onto a strange island, it is discovered that the girl on the island, Calypso, is another daughter of Atlas.
Kronos decides not to free him from the weight of the sky, despite Atlas being his best fighter and second-in-command. This is because the Titan General had failed to capture the Ophiotaurus, and because he let Artemis escape which meant he failed his duties. It is also mentioned that Krios had to "babysit" Atlas while the other Titans were fighting the Olympians. With Atlas still imprisoned, Hyperion appears to have replaced him as Kronos' second-in-command, as he is later shown leading the Titans' forces through Manhattan.
During his quest to save Thanatos, Percy has a flashback dream of his fight with Atlas, though he cannot recall certain small details, including the Titan's name.
Atlas is seen as being increasingly psychopathic, extremely sadistic, monstrous, conniving, and arrogant (being known for boasting about his incredible strength). He has a short temper and takes great pride in being Kronos' second-in-command (Luke does not necessarily count, as he is not a Titan). However, his rash personality also proved to be his greatest weakness, sometimes causing him to seriously underestimate his opponents; this allowed him to be bested by Artemis in combat. His arrogance is displayed several times, such as when he mocks Percy Jackson, Thalia, Artemis, and even Luke (occasionally). In Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Atlas is shown to be even more arrogant than the other Titans. For instance, while his uncles Hyperion, Iapetus, Krios, and Koios hung their heads in shame after they were defeated by the Olympians, Atlas laughed right in Zeus' face and mocked him. Atlas' great power and authority allow him to earn fear from every one of his servants (although other Titans are shown to have no fear of him), including Luke Castellan and Dr. Thorn.
He is loyal to Kronos' cause and seems to have a lust for blood much like Ares, as when he says to Artemis when he has her cornered, "The first blood in a new war." He is also described as "laughing insanely as he fought." Atlas also despises the punishment the gods gave him (holding the sky on his shoulders for all eternity) and writhes with anguish when forced to endure it again. This is probably why he bears a short temper and why he finds delight in battling gods and demigods alike. Atlas was also spiteful and extremely dismissive of other humans, even Luke, but this could be derived from Atlas' status as a Titan.
Atlas, like many others of his kind, believes that the Titans are the most powerful race of all, and believes them to be far superior to the Olympians. He sees every other race to be weak compared to them. However, he even treats some of his fellow Titans like they are below him, considering only Kronos to be his true equal (which may be justified, as he is the most powerful of the Titans next to Kronos). He does, however, seem to care for his brother Prometheus, since in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, he agrees to help Hercules after learning that the latter had helped his brother. He also jumped at the chance of showing himself as more merciful than Zeus by agreeing to Hercules' request of holding the sky while the hero padded his shoulders with his lion mane.
In The Last Olympian, Atlas is known to be very bitter towards Kronos after being trapped under the sky again because he wished to be on the front lines of the war. He also hates holding up the sky because he can do nothing productive for the Titans' cause. It is also well established that he is held in contempt by other Titans, such as Hyperion and Krios, the latter of whom refers to the duty of having to 'babysit' him instead of fighting the war alongside Kronos.
Atlas looked like "a living statue", with dark slicked-back hair, grey eyes "like stone", light brown skin, and a very muscular build. He is very tall and extremely muscular with a brutal face, huge shoulders, and hands that could "snap a flagpole in half" (as described by Percy Jackson). Percy also states that he could see the family resemblance between Atlas and his daughter Zoe. Atlas has the same regal expression as Zoe, the same cold proud look in his eyes (which Zoe got when she was angry), though on him it looked "a thousand times more evil." He is described as wearing either an expensive brown business suit, or Greek armor. Atlas says himself in The Titan's Curse that he has a very stiff neck, probably from holding up the heavens for 3,000 years. While Percy had initially considered Dr. Thorn to be very intimidating, he admits that standing before Atlas, Thorn looked like a "silly wannabe soldier", while Atlas was the real deal, who did not even need a uniform, as he was a "born commander." According to Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Atlas looks intimidating even when he is chained up. As described in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, Atlas is twice the size of his brother Prometheus, who is described as being about 10 feet tall. This would make Atlas 20 feet tall.
Atlas' voice is described as being very intimidating as well: though it was not as creepy as Kronos', it was deeper, lower, and stronger, like "the earth itself was talking." According to Percy, the force of Atlas' voice would fill an entire room, and make the ground vibrate around him, even when he was not yelling.
As the general of Kronos' forces, Atlas is considered by many to be the most powerful Titan, after Kronos himself. Hence, Atlas arrogantly refers to himself as the "terror of the Olympians." However, the true extent of his power is still unknown.
- Massive Strength: Even for a Titan, Atlas has phenomenal strength, which Percy describes as "unstoppable". His strength surpasses even the Elder Titans and is second only to Kronos among Titans. This is his most extraordinary ability of all, as he was able to lift the entire sky for thousands of years. It is a remarkable ability, even for a Titan as holding up the sky is extremely hard as Percy describes. He is described to have hands capable of snapping a flagpole in half. Due to his strength, Percy Jackson, a demigod son of Poseidon, was completely unable to go blow-to-blow with Atlas and even Artemis was almost overpowered by Atlas' strength. According to Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Atlas would constantly brag about how strong he was.
- Prowess in Battle: As the commander of Kronos's forces during the First Titanomachy, Atlas was incredibly skilled in combat with centuries of battle experience, surpassing even the Elder Titans and being just under Kronos himself. According to Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Atlas is an exceptional swordsman. Despite being out of practice for thousands of years, in The Titan's Curse, Atlas still displayed exceptional prowess in spearmanship. Using his massive metal javelin, Atlas effortlessly defeated Percy whilst actually toying with the boy while simultaneously fending off and overwhelming Zoë Nightshade with his mighty spear. While fighting Artemis, Atlas was able to match and even gain the upper hand over the goddess, although Artemis was not at her most powerful state as she was exhausted from holding up the sky and Atlas did had the advantage of a greater weapon, and Artemis only defeated him through a surprise attack.
- Strategy: Atlas is a highly proficient strategist. The General's most seen talent is his adept strategic abilities, which were put to great use in the First Titanomachy. He laid a plan in The Titan's Curse to use the Ophiotaurus to destroy the Olympians, which caused great trouble for Percy and his companions.
- Titanic Energy: Like all Titans, Atlas has the ability to blast things hundreds of yards away from himself with a yell or a wave of the hand.
- Titanic Divine Form: As a Titan, it is possible that Atlas also has the ability to incinerate any being lesser than a god/Titan only by being present.
- Tongue of the Old Times fluency: According to Tyson in The Battle of the Labyrinth, this is the ancient language that Gaea spoke to the Titans, Elder Cyclops and Hekatonkheires before the birth of the Olympian gods. Hence, Atlas understands and speaks it perfectly. Interestingly, Percy describes Atlas' voice as sounding like "the earth itself was talking."
- Zoë Nightshade (deceased) - A former Hunter of Artemis
- The four Hesperides
- The seven Pleiades.
- Atlas, a moon of Saturn, is named after this Titan.
- Atlas is the only Titan loyal to Kronos who was never cast into Tartarus.
- As shown in Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Atlas helped Kronos and Hyperion chain up the Elder Cyclopes and Hekatonkheires, and hurl them into Tartarus yet again.
- As revealed in Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, the Elder Cyclopes were the ones who chained Atlas to Mount Orthys and forced the weight of the sky onto his shoulders.
- Prior to the burden of the sky being forced on Atlas, the only thing that kept it from falling was the presence of Hyperion, Iapetus, Krios, and Koios at the four corners of the world.
- In The Last Olympian, with Atlas still imprisoned under the weight of the sky, Hyperion appears to have replaced him as Kronos' second-in-command.
- Atlas is the first Titan that Percy fights in the series. However, Percy later claims that attacking Atlas was the stupidest thing he had ever done in his life up to that point.
- As shown in Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, Atlas was the only one of Rhea's nephews that she was unable to persuade to stay neutral in the Titanomachy.
- The Atlas Mountains in North Africa are named after him with the story of Perseus using Medusa's head to freeze Atlas into a mountain.
- In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, it is said that Atlas is the second greatest Titan aside from Kronos. This is confirmed to be true in Percy Jackson's Greek Gods.
- In some myths Atlas was charged to hold the Earth, not the Sky, and this also is related to the book of maps called an Atlas.
- Atlas' role of separating the sky from the Earth while it is longing to embrace the Earth, is similar to Shu, the Egyptian god of the air, who is charged with separating Nut (the sky) and Geb (the Earth).
- The Atlantic Ocean, meaning "Sea of Atlas", is named after him.
- Atlas had several children, especially daughters, having only one son named Hyas, the god of seasonal rains, who had been killed as young boy by a lion (who was possible the Nemean Lion) while fetching water.
- The Oracle's prophecy, "One must perish at a parent's hand" referred to Atlas and the fatal blow he dealt to his daughter, Zoë Nightshade.