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A Titan Born and Bred; Strong Back, But Thick Head

Atlas is the pillar of the world who bares the weight of the Heavens on his shoulders.

The myths surrounding Atlas are among the most complicated of Greek ancient mythology. So the one I'm giving you here is just one version:

During the Great War of the Titans Atlas, their leader, led the storming of Olympus, home of the gods.

The Titans failed. In punishment, Zeus sentenced their ringleader to hold up the Heavens for eternity.

Atlas means "endurer" or "bearer."

A long while later (no one can say how long) Heracles came by and offered to take his place -- at the suggestion of Prometheus, who himself had challenged the gods -- if Atlas would steal for him three golden apples from the tree of Hesperides, wedding gifts belonging to Zeus and Hera.

Altas, thinking this would give him a welcome break, successfully did so.

But bringing them back to Heracles, he changed his mind and said he no longer wanted to hold up the heavens.

Heracles had to think swiftly to trick this powerful, but slow-witted Titan into changing places again.

So pretending he needed to rub his sore and aching head for a moment, Heracles asked Atlas to "temporarily" take the burden.

Atlas fell for the ruse; Heracles grabbed the apples and was off!

Poor old foolish Atlas!

Next to come along was a tired Perseus, who requested shelter. He refused and so Perseus turned him into stone, using Medusa's head.

The place where Atlas stood is now Mount Atlas in North Africa.

I plan to give this embroidery as a gift to the Emperor Akihito of Japan as a souvenir of the 2004 Olympics. The Emperor has always been gracious to Greece and both of our countries have close ties and I myself have always liked Japan and its people.