Zeus brings the hammer of justice down on Tantalus in this story. Whichever version of Tantalus's crime you go with, everybody agrees on his punishment. It really has to suck, right? Being forever tormented by food and water that's just out of reach must be pretty awful. We have to hand it to Judge Zeus, though, this verdict is a creative form of justice. It definitely makes us not want to get on Zeus's bad side. In many ways, this story seems like a warning to other mortals to not cross the gods, and it gets across the idea that there's a divine sense of justice in the universe.
Questions About Justice and Judgment
What are Tantalus's possible crimes?
Does Tantalus deserve his punishment? Why, or why not?
Which character represents justice in this story? Explain your answer.
Think of another verdict for Tantalus. Explain your choice.
Compare and contrast the punishment of Tantalus to that of Ixion or Sisyphus.