Tantalus


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

Tantalus

(tăn`tələs), in Greek mythology, king of Sipylos, son of Zeus and father of Pelops and Niobe. He was admitted to the society of the gods, but his abominable behavior aroused their anger, and Zeus condemned him to suffer eternally at Tartarus. One legend says that he had divulged divine secrets and stolen the gods' sacred food. Another tells that he had murdered his son Pelops and served his body to the gods to test their omniscience. As punishment he was condemned to hang from the bough of a fruit tree over a pool of water. When he bent to drink, the water would recede; when he reached for a fruit, the wind would blow it from his reach. A further account of his punishment tells of a great stone hanging over his head threatening to fall. The word tantalize originated from his name.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tantalus

 

in ancient Greek mythology, a Lydian or Phrygian king; son of Zeus and father of Pelops and Niobe.

Because Tantalus divulged the secrets of the Olympians and stole nectar and ambrosia from them and served the flesh of his own son Pelops—whom he had slain—to the gods at a feast, the gods condemned him to eternal torments in the underworld. Although he stood in water up to his neck and saw fruit hanging on a tree, Tantalus could not satisfy his thirst or hunger, because the water always receded from him and the fruit moved away. This gave rise to the expression “to tantalize.”

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tantalus

condemned in Hades to thirst after receding water. [Gk. Myth.: Brewer Dictionary, 1062]

Tantalus

punished with ceaseless hunger for food just beyond his reach. [Gk. Myth.: Hamilton, 346]
See: Hunger

Tantalus

for his crimes, sentenced to Hades to be within reach of water he cannot drink. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 253; Gk. Lit.: Odyssey]

Tantalus

condemned to Tartarus with food and water always just out of reach; hence, tantalize. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 253]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
It's not clear why insulin-treated patients don't respond as well to the Tantalus, but one theory is that exogenous insulin may interfere with the vagal signal, he said.
There are five basic campsites at the lake: beside the Alpine Club's Tantalus Hut; on a sandspit on the lake's southeast shore; at the lake's northwest end and the basin above; and at Lambda Lake, a 1.5-hour walk from the hut.
Hall was delighted and optimistic about the prospects for Tantalus. He believed passionately, he said, that "the public measures theater by the power of the obsession of the people who practice it." Holding to this article of faith, he premiered the epic at Denver, toured it in Britain, and then offered it to the Spoleto Festival in Europe.
In a dramatic illustration of Denver's fondness for theater, the Denver Center Theatre Company (DCTC) and the Royal Shakespeare Company this fall will present the world premiere of Tantalus, an unparalleled 10-part epic written by John Barton and inspired by ancient Greek festivals.
Main danger could be Barry Hills' Tantalus, caught close home in the Chester Vase by outsiders Millenary and Windsor Boy.
The Hindu sages have long affirmed that as long as we don't know right down to the marrow of our bones that we fully possess happiness within our own hearts, we'll be like Tantalus, reaching for the fruit that we can never quite grasp.
NSIR Peter Hall, who is directing three plays in Los Angeles this summer, is to stage the 15-hour Trojan War epic Tantalus in Denver in the autumn of 2000.
To what extent might the Trade Description authorities, I wonder, be interested in this book had its title appeared, say, as a holiday offer in some Tantalus Travel brochure instead of Manchester University Press's transparently honest Studies in Imperialism list?
As the end of the year inexorably approached with its quota of deadlines, I began to feel great empathy with Tantalus. Now, as you probably remember from your Greek mythology, Tantalus was an ancient king who was condemned to Hades for his crimes.
Niobe In Greek mythology, the daughter of Tantalus (king of Sipylus in Lydia) and wife of King Amphion of Thebes.
I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind, And did He stoop to quibble could tell why The little buried mole continues blind, Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die, Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus To struggle up a never-ending stair.