Mythology – Notes #4
was a human who partied with the gods, which was not unheard of, and he was
favored by Zeus.
Tantalus had a son named
Greeks thought that the gods did not
eat and drink the same things they did – the gods ate refined foods, namely
and would not eat regular food.
Tantalus didn’t believe that gods only ate
refined foods, so he tried to test it.
He killed Pelops, his son, chopped him up into bite-
sized pieces, and fed him to the gods.
It didn’t work – the gods noticed immediately and
punished him by sending him down to Tartarus, where he’ll forever be hungry and
Tantalus stands in a stream whose waters recede just out of reach when he tries to
take a drink, and just above his head is a fruit tree, but the winds blow its branches just
out of reach when he tries to reach up.
So Tantalus is forever teased … or “tantalized”.
Most humans go to the same underworld when they die, but if you offend the gods, such
as Tantalus did, you may get sent to Tartarus.
Another example is
, who is
punished by having to try to push a rock uphill for eternity.
He can push it to the point
where the hill goes straight vertical, but the boulder rolls back down again.
tried to cheat death by instructing his wife not to perform the proper burial rites when he
So when he died, he went to talk to Hades, saying that his good-for-nothing wife
wouldn’t perform the rites, and asked Hades to let him go back up and talk to her to
Hades agrees, Sisyphus goes back up and lives for many more years.
When he dies again later, though, Hades punishes the deception by sending him down to
Tartarus to push the rock.
The gods realized that Pelops, Tantalus’son, had been killed before he had been fated to
die, so they brought him back to life.
He fell in love with
, whose father was
Any suitor for the king’s daughter had to win a chariot race against the king in
order to win her hand in marriage.
The contestant got a 5 minute head start, but if the
king caught up to them, he’d throw a spear through their back.
Thirteen men had tried
before Pelops, and the king had all 13 of their heads mounted on the wall in the palace.
Pelops went to
, the driver of the king’s chariot, and bribed him to sabotage the
chariot so that Pelops would win the race.
Myrtilus put a carved piece of wax that
resembled the lynch pin in its place so that the wheel would fall off when the wax heated
up and melted.
As they were in pursuit of Pelops, the wax began to melt – Myrtilus,
knowing what was happening, jumped out of the chariot.
The wheel fell off and the king
was killed in the crash.
Pelops, with Hippodamia in his chariot, won the race and turned around to go back to the