The tale of Sisyphus

I’ve got another half hour until my math class starts, and I know of nothing better to do than to write. As some may already know, I love to read. I am particularly fascinated by Greek mythology. So here’s a story for you to indulge in my passion. Have fun.

The tale of Sisyphus, the deceiver.

 

If you don’t know the myth of Sisyphus, I’ll enlighten you. There are two versions.

 

The first version tells of Sisyphus, first king of Corinth. Originally, Sisyphus was not king, but a navigation and commerce expert. He helped guide travelers through the country and offered shelter for some as they made their way across the land. Sisyphus, however, deceived some travelers and killed them for sport. He became so overcome by his greed for power that he seduced his niece and stole his brother’s throne. As king, he heard about the kidnapping of Aegina, daughter of the river god, Asopus, by Zeus. Sisyphus betrayed Zeus’ secret and informed Asopus of the deed. The gods were so shocked at the audacity of the mortal that they punished him for his arrogance. His punishment was to, forevermore, push a giant boulder up a steep hill. But before the boulder reached the top, the rock would roll back down, and Sisyphus would have to start all over again.

 

The story is also told with a different ending. In this version, Sisyphus is punished by Zeus himself. Zeus orders Thanatos (Hates, or Death) to chain Sisyphus in the darkest depths of Tartarus (the underworld). But Sisyphus, being the sly, crafty man he is, persuades Thanatos to test the chains on himself to make sure they work. Thanatos does so, and Sisyphus secures the bonds and threatens to keep him there for all eternity. Essentially, all hell breaks loose, and because there is no one to collect their souls, and there is no “Death”, people cannot die. But then, Ares, god of warfare, angered that his battles have lost their “fun” because his enemies will not die, intervenes and frees Death. Sisyphus is bound and thrown into Tartarus, but not before he speaks to his wife. He tells her that when he dies, she shouldn’t bury his body or perform normal rites, but throw his naked body into the town square, in a fleeting attempt to test his wife’s love for him. In Tartarus, Sisyphus learns that his wife had been dreadfully obedient, and dragged his lifeless, naked corpse into the public square. Outraged by his wife’s loveless actions, he tricks Persephone, queen of Tartarus, into freeing him so that he can scold his wife for not burying him. He also complained that he shouldn’t be on the far side of the river Styx anyway, because since he was denied proper burial honors, his wife had not paid the toll (a coin under the body’s tongue) that ensured safe passage by the ferryman, Charon. Once he is released, he refuses to return to the underworld, and is dragged there by Hermes, messenger to the gods, and guide to the underworld.

 

 

Interesting story, huh? Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

-Kris

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