Atlas is the brother of Prometheus in Greek mythology. As he was a Titan who helped Cronus in the war against Zeus, he was punished severely by having to carry the world on his shoulders.

Atlas is featured in the story of Hercules. As his eleventh labor, Hercules had to retrieve the Golden Apples of Hesperides, the son of Atlas. Hercules offered to hold the world up in exchange for Atlas's getting the apples. Atlas gladly accepted, but when he came back with them he offered to bring the apples to Eurystheus by himself. Hercules, knowing that he was probably going to have to hold the world up forever, asked for pads to be put on his shoulders. Atlas lifted the sky up, but suddenly Hercules snatched the apples and ran off.