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The terrifying punishment of King Tantalus gave a new word to the world

Posted in Ancient History, Interesting Words, Language, Legend, Myth on Saturday, 21 December 2013

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This edited article about Greek mythology first appeared in Look and Learn issue number 500 published on 14 August 1971.

Tantalus, picture, image, illustration

The punishment of King Tantalus

Everyone has been tantalised in their time, including the man who was first to suffer – Tantalus! He was a king who had been invited to dinner with the gods on Mount Olympus, where he rashly stole their nectar and ambrosia. For this and other tactless crimes, including serving up his own son as a dish for the gods to test their divinity – he was put waist-deep in a lake with delicious fruit above him that he could never reach. And when he wanted to drink, the water always receded. Meanwhile, his son was returned to life by the gods and was exactly as before except for a portion of a shoulder that an absent-minded god had nibbled. It was replaced by ivory! Meanwhile his father went on being tantalised.

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