Tantalus

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Gioacchino Assereto (1600–1649) Title: Tantalus Date 1630s-1640s
Gioacchino Assereto (16001649) Title: Tantalus Date 1630s-1640s

Tantalus was a son of Zeus and the nymph Plouto a king of Phrygiain in the primordial world. Tantalus became one of the inhabitants of Tartarus.

The wealth of Tantalus was derived from the mines of Phrygia and Mount Sipylus.

Story of Tantalus

Tantalus is known for having been welcomed to Zeus' table in Olympus. There stole ambrosia, brought it back to his people, and revealed the secrets of the gods.

Tantalus offered up his son, Pelops, as a sacrifice to the gods. He cut Pelops up, boiled him, and served him up as food for the gods.

The gods were said to be aware of his plan for their feast, so they didn't touch the offering; only Demeter, distraught by the loss of her daughter, Persephone, "did not realize what it was" and ate part of the boy's shoulder. Fate, ordered by Zeus, brought the boy to life again (she collected the parts of the body and boiled them in a sacred cauldron), rebuilding his shoulder with one wrought of ivory made by Hephaestos and presented by Demeter.

The revived Pelops was kidnapped by Poseidon and taken to Olympus to be the god's eromenos. Later, Zeus threw Pelops out of Olympus due to his anger at Tantalus doings; cannibalism, human sacrifice and parricide.

Tantalus' punishment is to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any.

Tantalus was blamed for indirectly having stolen the dog made of gold created by Hephaestus for Rhea to watch over infant Zeus.

There is a similarity between the names Tantalus and Hantili, the latter a name of two Hittite kings. Thus, there may be a loose historical connection between the mythical Tantalus and the Bronze Age Hittite kings, who likewise ruled over Asia Minor.

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