44. Atlas becomes a mountain

Once upon a time, Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danae, was flying on his winged sandals. Thrice did he view the frozen Bears and three times, did he see the Crab’s bent arms. But as day declined and wanting to rest, Perseus stopped his flight. He was in the far west, in the realm of Atlas, the son of Iapetus. Perseus decided to approach Atlas and request for a resting place.

Atlas was huge and his command extended on those extreme domains, where the trees glinted with gold bright leaves, and golden-wrought boughs bore pure gold apples. Neighboring tribes did not disturb the land and even allowed a thousand flocks or a thousand herds, if they wandered over and grazed their pasture lands.

Perseus approached Atlas, saying that he was the son of Zeus, and implored Atlas for a place to rest. However, Atlas recollected an oracle by Themis the Parnassian. The oracle had told that a son of Zeus would come, to spoil the orchard, and he would be glorious in stripping the trees of the golden fruit. To avoid this, Atlas had built high solid walls around his orchard, and he even kept a dragon, to guard the trees bearing the golden fruit. Remembering this oracle, Atlas rejected the request of Perseus.

Perseus again implored, but Atlas refused and added force, to drive the hesitating Perseus away from his doors. Perseus dared not to rival the might of Atlas but was nevertheless angered, as Atlas held him in light esteem. So, turning his own face away, he took out from his bag the dreaded head of Medusa, and showed the abhorrent features to Atlas, who at once became a huge mountain.

The hair and beard of Atlas changed to forests, his hand and shoulders became ridges of the vast mountain, his bones became rocks, and his head became the summit of the immense mountain. Atlas attained enormous growth, and as ordained by the Gods, he now rested the heaven’s span of unnumbered stars.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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