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Sisyphus was a king of Ephyra who was later sent to Tartarus for cheating death.

History

Sisyphus promoted navigation and commerce, but was avaricious and deceitful, violating the laws of hospitality by killing travelers and guests. He took pleasure in these killings because they allowed him to maintain his dominant position. From Homer  onwards, Sisyphus was famed as the craftiest of men. He seduced his niece, took his brother's throne, and betrayed Zeus' secrets (one of which where he told the river god Asopus of the whereabouts of his daughter Aegina). When Sisyphus died, Zeus then ordered Thanatos (Death personified) to chain Sisyphus in Tartarus.

Sisyphus cheated death by imprisoning Thanatos when Sisyphus asked how the chains worked. No one could die or pass on. The Fates were furious because of this. Ares was mad that the battles had lost their fun because nobody lost their lives, and released Thanatos. Before Sisyphus died, he told his wife, Merope, not to bury him so when he was brought down to the Underworld, he defended his right to a proper funeral. Persephone let him go so Sisyphus could scold Merope for not giving him a proper funeral. Sisyphus was finally dragged back to the Underworld by Hermes when he refused to go back to the dead. The judges told him to roll a boulder up a hill as his punishment, and when he finished that task, he would be freed. Sisyphus tried, but it fell back when he got close to the top of the hill. He tried again, and again, and again forever. This represented the punishment of Sisyphus claiming that his cleverness surpassed Zeus causing the god to make the boulder roll away from Sisyphus binding Sisyphus to an eternity of frustration.

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