June 5

The Myth of Sisyphus – The insidious tyrant who defeated the god of death Thanatos


Sisyphus is a character famous for his pranks and tricks on the gods in Greek mythology. Not only violating a series of divine rules, Sisyphus also many times deceitful, defeating the god of death Thanatos.

According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the founding king of Ephyra (which is believed to be the original name for Corinth). He was the son of Aeolus, king of Thessaly and Enarete. Sisyphus is notoriously cunning. In some stories told later, it is said that Sisyphus was the father of Odysseus – the Greek hero famous for his intelligence and cunning when participating in the battle of Troy.

Sisyphus is not only cunning but also an extremely cruel person. He broke the law of xenia, a divine code of hospitality and generosity of the host to his guests, by murdering countless visitors. This made Zeus, who was responsible for maintaining the xenia tradition, displeased. However, Zeus only decided to punish Sisyphus after the unruly king captured the god of death.

One day, Sisyphus kidnapped Aegina, the daughter of the river god Asopus, who was also the son of Poseidon. Sisyphus promised Asopus that he would reveal Aegina’s whereabouts, in exchange for the river god to grant the city Sisyphus ruled an eternal spring. At this insolence, Zeus couldn’t take it anymore.

The supreme god of Olympus ordered the god of death Thanatos to bring Sisyphus back to the underworld. But Sisyphus was extremely cunning, when he saw Thanatos, he asked the god how to control the chain. Thanatos replied, and immediately Sisyphus used the same chain to trap Thanatos. After the god of death was captured, no one died. So, the god of war, Ares, must come to the rescue of Thanatos (because war without the dead is no longer interesting). In some versions of the myth, Thanatos is replaced by Hades, but as a result, Sisyphus still captures the god.

After being liberated, the god of death immediately took Sisyphus back to the underworld. However, Sisyphus’ cunning mind devised a new prank. He told his wife, Merope, that after he was taken away, she could not perform any funeral rites or funerals. Merope obeyed, so when in the underworld, Sisyphus had an excuse to cry and complain to Persephone about his poor wife and children, not burying him. Later, Sisyphus again begged Persephone for permission to return to earth to punish his abusive wife. So he gently returned to earth and lived to an old age.

Witnessing the deceitful deeds of Sisyphus, Zeus gave a cruel punishment to the king to deter those who thought they could surpass the gods. Zeus let Sisyphus roll the rock on the steep hill. However, every time the rock nears the top of the hill, the task is almost done, it automatically rolls down the hill, causing Sisyphus to start all over again. In short, Sisyphus’ quest to roll the stone is an endless quest, with no end in sight, and complete nonsense. And even later people used the word ‘Sisyphean’ to describe a task that could never be completed.


discover, Greek mythology, life, sisyphus

You may also like

What if we spread solar cells to fill the Sahara?

Get in touch

0 of 350