Study Guide

Tantalus

  • Introduction

    It seems like all of us can relate in some way to Tantalus. Sure, the T-man is a notorious criminal. Yeah, most of us aren't guilty of the kind of crimes he's accused of i.e. like cooking up his own child and trying to feed him to the gods. However, when Tantalus is condemned to the darkest pit of the Underworld, to be forever tortured by fruit and water he can't quite reach, he becomes a bit like all the rest of us, right?

    Of course, we're not all tortured in quite the same way as the Tantalized One (guess where that word came from?). But we all are constantly tempted by things we can't quite reach. What human being isn't trying to grasp for something that they can't quite reach? Even the most unmotivated of people are almost always longing for something they may not ever lay their hands on. (Even if it's that potato chip that fell a little too far from the couch or a Nobel Prize in Shmooping.)

    So it seems to us that even though Tantalus is guilty of crimes most of us would never even dream of committing, there's still something about his eternal plight that makes him relatable to pretty much everybody on earth. This is that crumby Human Condition thing you hear so much about.

  • Best of the Web

    Tantalus Resources

    Movie or TV Productions

    Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
    Hercules runs into Tantalus in the Underworld, while trying to rescue Persephone in this TV series that totally riffs on Greek mythology.

    Thyestes on TV
    Check out this 1966 TV movie version of the play by Seneca. The ghost of Tantalus is included.

    Videogames

    God of War...Rhaaaaa!
    Kratos takes a tour of Tartarus, where Tantalus and the rest of the damned are imprisoned. (Not a fun vacation.)

    Tantalus Media
    These guys have kicked out a ton of cool games. Why did they name themselves after Tantalus, though? Hmmm.

    Articles and Interviews

    Tantalus's Ghost Live (On Ice)
    Read this review on the play Thyestes to find out whether Tantalus's ghost ice skates or not.