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We are aware that an atlas is a book of maps .An atlas is drawing, on paper or cloth, of earth’s surface or part of this, showing countries, seas, mountains, rivers towns and so on. How did this book of maps get the name ‘ atlas?’ There is a story which goes like this:

Every mythology has stories of several gods .In Greek mythology Atlas was a giant god, who had immense strength. But from this strength, he had become arrogant also.

Zeus the king of Greek gods became angry with Atlas for leading the Titans against him.. He wanted to punish Atlas .The king ordered Atlas to stand for ever , holding the world on his shoulders.

Atlas had no option .He had to obey. He held the heavy weight while standing on the back of a turtle.

Time passed by. Atlas , in course of time ,was tired and wanted to get rid of this tough job .But who will come forward to help him? He really got a chance once. Heracles, the great Greek hero (known as Hercules in Roman mythology), who had also the same power and strength as Atlas came there to seek his help.

Hercules wanted to get three golden apples, from a garden which was supposed to be guarded by a dragon.
He was terribly afraid of the dragon and he knew only Atlas can get the golden apples for him.

Atlas agreed to get the apples, if Hercules would hold the world on his shoulders when he went for that work Hercules somehow wanted the apples and accepted the job.

Atlas went for the apples and returned after a few days with them .But having enjoyed freedom from the tiresome work, he did not want to take back the load again. He told Hercules to keep the job for himself.

Hercules was very clever .He wanted to escape from the situation by some trick. Therefore, he agreed to the suggestion , but asked Atlas to take the world for just a minute to enable him to get a pad for his shoulders.

Atlas happily lifted the world once again to his shoulders thinking that Hercules would soon take over . But Hercules quickly picked up the golden apples and ran away as fast as he could.

Even now it is believed that Atlas is still holding the world on his shoulders and we see the world as it appears from there.