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The Story of Tantalus

Notes & Transcripts

One of the Greek's ancient myths is about a man named Tantalus. Tantalus was the intimate friend of Zeus, who admitted him to Olympian banquets where the gods would feast on nectar and ambrosia. In time Tantalus betrayed Zeus's secrets and stole the divine food to share with his mortal friends. For his crime Tantalus was punished by Zeus who hung him from the branches of a fruit tree over a lake. He is perennially consumed by thirst and hunger. Sometimes the lake rises to his chin, but as he bows his head to drink the water recedes and nothing remains but black mud at his feet. If he ever succeeds in scooping up a handful of water, it slips through his fingers before he can get his hand to his parched lips, leaving him thirstier than ever. The tree he hangs from is laden with pears, apples, sweet figs, and ripe olives which dangle tantalizingly close to his face; but whenever he reaches for the luscious fruit, a gust of wind whirls them out of his reach.


Source: The Greek Myths, Vol. 2, pg. 358

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