Atlas Holding Up the Celestial Globe (1646) – Guercino

Atlas was the son of Iapetus and Clymene. He was the leader of the Titans in their battle against the Olympian Gods. The Titans were defeated and all but Atlas were confined to Tartarus, a section of the Underworld. Atlas’s punishment was to carry the sky upon his shoulders throughout eternity. During one of his 12 famous labors, the great hero Heracles took the burden from the shoulders of Atlas so that the Titan could fetch for him the golden apples of the Hesperides. When Atlas returned, Heracles tricked him into taking back the weight of the heavens.

The Birth of Minerva [Athena] (1688) – René-Antoine Houasse

Athena, often given the epithet Pallas, is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, strategic war, mathematics, strength, war strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill in ancient Greek religion and mythology. Minerva is the Roman goddess identified with Athena.

There are many different stories about the birth and parentage of Athena. In the most familiar story, she sprang fully armed from the head of Zeus when Hephaestus split it open with an ax. Zeus had previously swallowed his consort, Metis, on learning that she would soon bear a child who would rule the gods.