The Giant Atlas was the son of either Japet and the Clymene Nymph or the Eurymedon Titan. His brothers were Epimetheus, Prometheus, and Menoetius. Atlas was the father of the Hyades and the Hesperides;
The Giant Atlas, the eldest of the brothers, knew the depths of the sea well; he ruled a kingdom bordered by a steep and very vast coast.
Atlas of the world
This territory, Atlantis, was beyond the Columns of Hercules and a string of islands, where fruit trees grew, an ocean separated it from a more distant continent, not connected to ours. The Atlas subjects built canals and cultivated a huge central plain whose water came from the mountains that surrounded it entirely, except for an opening to the sea. They also built palaces, baths, racecourses, ports, and temples; they fought not only on the other continent in the west but also in the east, in Egypt and Italy.
Atlas by © Boris Vallejo 1988
The Egyptians said that Atlas was the son of Poseidon who had given birth, by Clito, five times in a row, to twins; they had sworn an oath of fidelity to their brother on the blood of a bull sacrificed at the top of a column; and at first they were extremely virtuous men, serenely carrying the burden of their immense wealth in gold and silver.
But one-day greed and wickedness invaded their hearts and, with Zeus’ permission, the Athenians alone and without help defeated them and destroyed their power. At the same time, the gods sent a flood, which, in one day and one night, swallowed up all of Atlantis; the ports and temples were covered with thick mud and it became impossible to sail on the sea.
Atlas and Menoetios joined Cronos and the Titans in the fateful war fought by Zeus and the Olympian gods. Zeus killed Menoetios with a stroke of his lightning and sent him to Tartarus, but he spared Atlas, whom he condemned to carry the celestial vault on his shoulders for all eternity.
He has since then always worn it, except in one circumstance, when Heracles temporarily replaced him during the golden apple harvest.
Some say that Persee turned Atlas into stone and made it Mount Atlas by showing him the head of the Gorgon.