The Price of Evading Death, Twice

by M-Gillies

Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity at hard labor for his various indiscretions.

Avaricious and deceitful, the King of Corinth known as Sisyphus was both of these and earned himself a reputation of treachery and cunning. Taking pleasure in killing travelers and guests and violating the laws of hospitality, Sisyphus was a man dully detested. Having seduced his niece, stolen his brother’s throne and betrayed Zeus’ secrets, and escaped death twice, his final punishment was the genesis of the term Sisyphean task.

It was upon seeing Zeus kidnap a water nymph that the father of Gods and men requested that Sisyphus keep his secret. However, Sisyphus, considering himself a peer of the gods, felt it rightful of him to report their indiscretions and upon making a bargain with the river god Aspopus for fresh spring water, forfeited Zeus’ secret.

Angered by the betrayal, Zeus ordered Thanatos, god of death, to chain Sisyphus in the abysmal depths of Tartarus, a place beneath the Underworld where he would surly receive torment and punishment.

Being as clever as he was, when Thanatos appeared with chains in which to take Sisyphus to Tartarus, he asked Thanatos to demonstrate how the chains worked. When Thanatos obliged, Sisyphus secured them in place, trapping Thanatos and evading death.

Because no human could die now that Thanatos was missing, this caused an uproar amongst the gods, in particular, Ares, the god of war. Since all his opponents would not die during battles, Ares intervened and freed Thanatos, in turn, handing Sisyphus to the god of death.

However, before his death, Sisyphus requested his wife to leave his body naked in the public square, as a test of her love for him. Using this as a ruse, Sisyphus complained to Persephone, the queen of the underworld that it was a sign of his wife’s disrespect toward him and requested he be permitted to go back to the upper world to arrange a proper funeral.

As a spirit known as a Taraxippus, Sisyphus roamed the lands, refusing to return to the Underworld until Hermes, the great messenger of the gods and guide to the underworld retrieved him.

For his trickery and arrogance in thinking he was more clever then Zeus, the god felt it necessary to condemn Sisyphus with a punishment equally as clever. Condemned to an eternity of frustration, Sisyphus was charged with the task of rolling a huge boulder up a steep hill, however, before he could reach the top of the hill, the rock would always roll back down, forcing him to begin the task again.

Read more:

The Ancient Myth of Sisyphus |The longest list of the longest stuff at the longest domain name at long last

Sisyphus | Myth Encyclopedia

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