Sisyphus

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In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a cunning and deceitful man who was known for his trickery. He is best known for his punishment of being forced to roll a boulder up a hill for all of eternity. Perhaps his greatest trick was tricking Thanatos, the personification of Death, to demonstrate a set of shackles on himself. Thanatos remained shackled under the care of Sisyphus for a period of time, during which no mortal could die. Ares, the god of war, became upset that his battles would not result in death, and finally rescued Thanatos.

Before Sisyphus died, he asked his wife not to perform the sacrifice usually performed in such a situation. Once sent to the underworld, he then complained that his wife was neglecting this duty, and asked for permission to return to ask his wife to perform this duty. He received this permission, but once he came back, he would not return. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, brought Sisyphus back. As a punishment for his trickery, Sisyphus was sent to Tartarus, the worst part of Hades, and condemned to roll a boulder up a hill for all of eternity. The boulder would always roll back down the hill once Sisyphus brought it to the top.

The myth of Sisyphus is used as a metaphor for repetitive and useless activities. Conversely, Albert Camus argued that because "struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart" we "must imagine Sisyphus happy".[1]

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