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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.
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.”