Sisyphus was the mythical founder and first king of the city-state of Corinth (and son of Aeolus, God of Winds. He was a cunning trickster, known for his abilities to deceive gods and humans alike. He was also known as a murderer in his own kingdom as he would often entertain himself by killing travelers to his city for his entertainment. Needless to say, Sisyphus was a total chump, and more than a little nuts in the head.
Worse than all of this (at least to the gods), Sisyphus was also snitch. He decided to let it be known that Zeus had abducted the nymph Aegina to Aegina's father, Asopus (a minor river god). Zeus knew right away who had given away his escapade, and was, without doubt, obviously ticked off that a mortal was messing around in his business. That's all it ever takes in ancient Greece;Zeus decided right then and there and to wipe up with Sisyphus and teach him a lesson he would never forget.
For his tattle tailing, Sisyphus was condemned to Tartarus, the deepest, darkest pit beneath the Underworld. As always, Zeus thought long and hard for a perfect punishment for Sisyphus there. Sisyphus thought he had the perfect plan for escaping death and therefore escaping Tartarus. Before he was killed and taken, he managed to fool Thanatos, the god responsible for death.
Sisyphus asked Thanatos to try out his deathly chains to show him how they worked, and when he did, Sisyphus shanghaied him, chained him up and stuffed him into a crate, hidden away in his palace. Now, there was no real way that Zeus could send him down to Tartarus! Or so he thought...
Big problem: the imprisonment of Thanatos meant that mortals could no longer die. This totally screwed up the normal order of things, and especially upset was Ares, god of war, who could not enjoy his battles when the men he defeated did not die. Ares went on the warpath, searching far and wide, until he finally realized who must have done the disappearing act on Thanatos.
Smashing down the door to Sisyphus' palace, Ares found the god of death and released him. Another strike against Sisyphus ensured a particularly nasty punishment by Zeus AND Hades, the King of the Underworld (Sisyphus had threatened HIS job as well with his little trick of "stealing" Thanatos and stopping death...)
Sisyphus was deemed guilty of hubris (excessive pride) in his belief that he could outsmart the gods, and guilty of the betrayal of Zeus' secret as if it were his place to be involved in the affairs of a god. As punishment, down in the dark, hot hellish existence of Tartarus, he was condemned to spend eternity rolling a huge boulder up a hill. Each time the boulder would near the top, it would roll back down to the bottom. Sisyphus would then be forced to repeat his task. Over. And over. And over. For eternity. Once again, humanity was given a story to show them that the gods were NOT to be messed with under any circumstances!
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