Atlas, in Greek mythology, was one of the Titans that ruled during the Golden Age. Legend holds that Zeus condemned Atlas to stand at the western edge of the Earth and hold up the heavens on his shoulders, to prevent the two from resuming their primordial embrace. From him, we get the phrase "to carry the world on your shoulders", as well as the word "atlas" for a book of maps.
Atlas appeared on The StoryTeller: Greek Myths in the story of "Perseus and the Gorgon". Atlas, wearily holding up the heavens, greets Perseus on his way to slay the gorgon. On his return with Medusa's head, Perseus shows it to Atlas turning him to stone. The giant Atlas becomes a mountain and can for the first time rest from his once tiring job.
When Lee Lawrie designed a bronze statue of Atlas to adorn the Rockefeller Center in New York City, he conceived that the image of Atlas holding a globe would represent the celestial sphere of ancient astronomy. This meaning has evolved in pop culture best described by a common phrase used: "he held the weight of the world on his shoulders."
- Kermit was drawn to spoof the image of Atlas on the cover of One Frog Can Make a Difference.
- In promotional material for The Jim Henson Company's 45th anniversary in 2000, Kermit could once again be seen in the familiar pose.
- On Sesame Street, Bob appeared as a "living statue" of Atlas in the musical insert "Sing Your Synonyms."
- Elmo draws his blanket in Atlas' pose holding a globe in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.
- Baby Gonzo appears as Atlas in the Muppet Babies coloring book A Trip Through Time.
- Daryl Cagle drew Kermit as Atlas on the packaging of Muppet plush (Hasbro).
- Elmo paints Grover as Atlas in episode 4714 of Sesame Street.