Push, push!

Sisyphus is quoted in numerous accounts, sometimes clever (Homer's version), sometimes deceitful (Aristotle and Horace), but always cunning. Sisyphus is the son of Aeolus (god of the wind) and Enarete as well as the founder of the city of Corinth where he made trade, navigation and wealth prosper.

Sisyphus has a flock of sheep of which he is proud. This herd is similar to that of Autolycos, an alleged son of Hermes (nothing to do with a canine search engine therefore). However, Autolycos is an experienced thief with a very particular power (given by Hermes), that of transforming the cattle he steals. Obviously, Autolycos begins to steal little by little the beasts of Sisyphus ... The latter, then has no evidence that their animals are stolen even if his herd decreases and that of Autolycos gradually increases ... Sisyphus, to be sure to find the culprit then engraves an inscription under the hooves of his animals. The following day, he follows the tracks left by his animals which leads him directly to the Autolycos herd. He finds his animals, summons the neighbors and lets them punish the thief. Meanwhile, he will rape the daughter of Autolycos (Anticlee). From this forced union was born Odysseus, the hero of the Odyssey.

But hey, that’s not really enough for the gods. He only "took" revenge. The story does not end there and it is another matter, directly related to Zeus, which is worth to Sisyphus a pretty funny fate ...

Zeus has, let us remember, a somewhat exacerbated libido. In this momentum, he wants one day to seduce Aegina, daughter of the river god Asopos, without the latter knowing anything about it (it must also be said that Zeus tends not to necessarily wait for the consent of his “conquests”, this that dads don't like…). To avoid being caught, the master of Olympus turns into an eagle and takes the girl to a lost island. Later, Asopos desperately searches for her and thinks of giving up ... But one day, he meets Sisyphus who has seen the girl being kidnapped. Sisyphus then made a deal with Asopos: information on the culprit against a source of water that never runs dry in Corinth. Asopos accepts and Sisyphus reveals the name of Zeus.

This is too much for the master of the gods who chooses to send a charming visitor to Sisyphus: Thanatos (death). Only death in myths is not exactly like now. Already because we can see it and especially because we can chat with it. Sisyphus therefore takes a tea with it and presents her with a great invention that she is quick to try: handcuffs. Thus, Sisyphus goes on death in a prison and gets rid of it quietly. The problem is that when death is confined, well, it can no longer work. So no one dies any more and the underworld empties… (you can imagine the mess if no one ever dies, well here it is). Zeus is furious (again) and condemns Sisyphus to join the underworld (with the help of Ares). Except that Sisyphus asked his wife (Merope) not to do a burial during his death. He then uses this argument in front of Persephone and Hades (the governors of hell) to convince them that it is an affront and that he must absolutely return to earth to wash his honor (yes, he has no embarrassment) ... Obviously he does not respect the deal and Zeus ends up striking him down to send him back to hell.

Zeus creates a very special punishment for Sisyphus: having to push a huge rock up a hill indefinitely (the rock falls back down once you get to the top). Since then, this punishment often represents the symbol of the human condition in different interpretations: useless and futile work even for an intelligent person, an endless struggle in search of happiness (each time a man reaches a goal, another must appear to please him, moreover Sisyphus does this without really knowing why). The story of Sisyphus also holds a moral about the excessive pride that it can sometimes be good to curb.

Sources: Les Grands Mythes, Wikipedia

Written by Maxou (05/05/2020)
Views: 174

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