Burden of Sisyphus
Real World Background
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king of Corinth noted for his unethical shrewdness. When the river-god Asopus, looking for his missing daughter Aegina, asked Sisyphus where she was, Sisyphus told him that Zeus had run off with her as his latest amour, requesting in return that Asopus supply his city with a spring of fresh water. Zeus, displeased by Asopus interrupting his tryst with Aegina, sent Thanatos, the god of death (or in some versions, Hades himself) to take Sisyphus to the Underworld; Sisyphus, however, tricked Thanatos into trying on a pair of handcuffs and thus took him prisoner. As long as Thanatos was trapped, no one could die (like the Emir trapping Anubis in "Grief"); at last, Ares became exasperated by the absurdity of battles in which no one could die, and released Thanatos. Sisyphus was ordered to descend to the Underworld, but instructed his wife to neglect his funeral ceremonies, and requested to Hades and Persephone that he return to the world of the living to demand a proper funeral of her; needless to say, he did not return until many years later he finally died from natural causes. To keep him from devising any more escape attempts, Hades set him to the task of pushing a boulder to the top of a hill; every time Sisyphus neared the hill's summit, the boulder would escape from his grasp and slide back to the bottom, forcing him to resume the task and keep at it for eternity.