The Damned

Sisyphus, Tantalos, Ixion, and the Danaids


Parents: Aeolus, king of Corinth (Sisyphus inherited the title)

Children: Euripides decided that Odysseus was the son of Sisyphus. He may have other, unimportant, children. He is the grandfather of the hero Bellerophon. (The one with the, it was NOT Hercules)

Spouse: He is married, and his wife is important (she's the daughter of Autolycus), but for the life of me, I can't find her name! Help?

Personality: Sisyphus was a trickster! He is the trickiest king who can be found in any mythology. (He even surpasses Odysseus, who he strongly resembles). Besides that, he hates Autolycus, a fellow king, and has a knack of getting into trouble with Gods.

Why He's Damned: Sisyphus' irritating neighbor, Autolycus, was helped by Apollo, who gave him a wand that would change the color of the coat of a cow. So, Autolycus used this ability to steal Sisyphus's cows. Sisyphus, naturally, disliked this, but he couldn't find a way to prove it...for a while. Finally he carved SIS (for Sisyphus) on the bottom of the hooves of the cows, follow them, and confronted Autolycus. After doing that, he stole Autolycus' daughter (and married her) and returned home.

This was not the end. Later in time a river God, Asopus, found that he was missing his beautiful daughter Aegina. He asked Sisyphus where she was, knowing that the crafty king was known for stealing daughters. Sisyphus admitted that he did know where she was, but that he wouldn't tell Asopus where she was unless he gave Corinth a spring of fresh water. Asopus grumbled, but complied. Sisyphus then told him that Zeus had ran off with Aegina.

Zeus, finding that he was persued by an angry river God changed himself into a rock and Aegina into an island. Now, Asopus was angry because he had lost his daughter, and Zeus was furious because he had lost his mistress.

Zeus now asks Hades to have Sisyphus killed, and Hades complies. The story branches the less believable, Hades goes for Sisyphus himself, and Sisyphus pretends to be honored. "Why, I'm honored! Usually Hermes comes for the dead. What have I done to gain such an honor?" and, as Hades ponders this question (Why am I here? Am I just a pawn of Zeus? Am I being treated badly. Oh my...I seem to be in chains.) Sisyphus chains him up. Other, more believable story...Thanatos comes for Sisyphus and he chains Thantos up. Either way, while tied up, no one can die, and the Fates get their strings tangled up...(This is why I think it is Thanatos. Why would Hades being captured make it so that no one can die? In most of these stories Persephone is in the Underworld, and, I assume, at least, that she could do whatever it took, did she feel so inclined, to cause people to die. She's supposed to be Hades' equal in most stories, where he grants her equality (or near equality) in exchange for being married to him...)

In some stories, Ares, furious that battles have just become play, threatens to remove Sisyphus' head and hide it from him if he doesn't free Hades or Thanatos. In others, Thanatos is freed by the Gods. In any case, as soon as Thanatos/Hades is freed, Sisyphus is next on the list. So...he plans...

When Sisypus dies, he comes to the Underworld with no coin on his tongue, and no funeral. In some stories, Hades becomes irritated that Sisyphus' wife is refusing to recognise the funeral rights, and, afraid that others will imitate her, sends Sisyphus back to teach her a lesson. In others Persephone releases him when Sisyphus tells her that he hasn't had proper funeral rights. She lets him go. (Hey! I wasn't chained up. And you got rid of either my husband or that spooky creature for a while. I have no problem letting you go).

Though it was implied that Sisyphus was to return promptly, he did not. When he finally died after a long life, Hades gave him a task so that he could not free himself again. Sisyphus is forced to push a heavy boulder up a hill. As soon as he gets it almost to the top, it slips down again and he has to start once again.

Texts: Hercules Episode: Death in Chains


Children: Pelops

Why He's Damned: Tantalos is invited to a grand party at Olympus. He is very impressed, and, in a rash act, invites the Gods to dinner at his house. Now, once Tantalos realizes what he's done, he decides that he has nothing to serve the Gods that is good enough for them. He looks about, and tries to find something good enough, but just can't. Finally he sees his young son, Pelops, and, as Pelops is his most prized possession, decides to serve him to the Gods.

The Gods are horrified. No one eats him, except for Demeter (who isn't thinking as she is grieving for Persephone) Athena brings Pelops back to life (replacing the eaten shoulder with a bit of ivory), and the Gods kill Tantalos.

Punishment: Tantalos is put into a pool with a tree full of lush fruit hanging over him. Then he is given an undying, extream thirst and hunger. And then, when he reaches to eat fruit, the fruit tree swings just out of his reach. And, when he bends to drink the water, it moves just out of his reach.


Why He's Damned: Ixion is a really horrid creature. He wants to marry a young woman, but he doesn't like her bride price. So, he lines a room with live embers and lures her parents into it. They are incinerated and Ixion takes the girl and marries her.

Now, most of the Gods, seeing this, want Ixion instantly killed and tormented. But Zeus remembers doing things like that, and decides that he rather likes Ixion. So, he invites the (expletive deleted) to dinner at Olympus.

Now, to prove that Ixion is not only evil but really dumb, Ixion decides to seduce Hera. (Hera isn't so fond of this idea, though Ixion sees it as a way for her to get back at Zeus for his philandering). Zeus forms a cloud Hera (which Ixion sires the centaurs upon), and, once he's done, has him flayed alive by the Furies while chanting something like "Remeber your duty to your host".

Punishment: Ixion is on a flaming wheel that spins endlessly.

The Danaides

Parents: Danaus (their father)

Spouses: The fifty sons of Aegyptus (their cousins...there are fifty of them)

Why They are Damned: Aegyptus and Danaus were brothers and Adgyptus decided that his fifty sons would marry Danaus' fifty daughters. Apparently Danaus wasn't especially fond of the idea, and so told his daughters to kill their husbands on their wedding nights and supplied them with ruby tipped poisoned pins to stick into their hearts. All of the Danaids did so (except one, who fell in love with her husband and eloped. She went to Elysium after her death).

Punishment: The Danaids are forced to carry water in sieves from the Lethe to a bathtub which, when full (which it will never be) is to be used to cleanse their sins.

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