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09 Greek Mythology - Various questions, reference books


This article is from the Greece FAQ, by Nikolaos (Nick) C. Fotis, nfotis@theseas.ntua.gr with numerous contributions by others.

09 Greek Mythology - Various questions, reference books

From: ccc@cs.toronto.edu ("Christina C. Christara")
Subject: Re: Mythology questions
Date: 16 Oct 92 01:12:28 GMT

kambizm@fidibus.uio.no (Kambiz Iranpour Mobarekeh) writes:
>I am looking for the names of some mythological personalities
>whom I read about once. One is the guy who still rolls
>a stone up the hill again and again.

This is Sisyphos (Sisufos) who tried several times to avoid
death; he actually succeded many times. He visited Hades (Adns)
and he found some tricks to come back to life. In ceramic
paintings, he is depicted pushing a stone towards the top
of a mountain, and when he is almost at the end, the stone
slips and rolls down fast. He was from Korinthos.
His struggle symbolises people's struggle against death,
something he did not eventually avoid himself.

> The other is one who is
>thirsty standing in a river in Hades trying to drink water but
>the water disappears each time. What was his name?

This is probably Tantalos, the king of Ludia (part of Asia Minor,
east of Smyrna). He was invited to dinner by the Gods,
but he could not reach anything, neither food, nor drink.
He was punished so, because when he invited the Gods to dinner
instead of sacrificing an animal for them, he sacrificed
his son, Pelops (Pelopas), whose name is the first part
of the name "Peloponnese." Tantalos was also punished,
because he gave the recipe of ambrosia and nectar
(the food and drink of the Gods) to the people.
(This story is similar to that of Prometheus, who gave
fire to people).

> Third question is was it Ogyas (or Ogias) barns which were cleaned by

This must be the Avgias barns (stauloi Augeiou). Hercules (Hraklns)
was supposed to clean the barns of Augeias, king of Helis (Hlis),
in western Peloponnese. This was necessary, because the dirt (shit)
of the cows of Augeias was so much that deseases would spread to the
people. Hercules had 1 day to complete the job, otherwise he would
be a slave (doulos) for the rest of his life. Would he complete
the job, he would get a part of the kingdom and the daughter
of the king as his wife. Hercules did clean the barns (according
to some mythology version, he turned 2 rivers towards the barns
and all dirt was gone by the water), but then Augeias did not
keep his promise and Hercules fought against him. I don't
remember if he won (I wasn't there, anyway :-)).

From: nwbernst@unix.amherst.edu (Neil Bernstein)
[regarding the last question]

Herakles (Latinized to Hercules) cleaned the stables of King Augeas.
You may be thinking of the island of Ogygia, where Odysseus was restrained
by the nymph Kalypso after his Great Wanderings and before he returns to

[ nfotis: we could continue ad infinitum with Greek Mythology, which
is *very* rich and engaging, IMHO. You're advised to read some good
books about Greek Mythology. cla04@seq1.keele.ac.uk (A.T. Fear)
suggests these two books:

> A good reference book for Greek mythology is Robert Graves' book the Greek
> Myths which has copious references to the original sources. Don't believe his
> personal commentaries however as they are idiosyncratic to put it
> mildly. Another book that might interest you is H.J.Rose's A Handbook of
> Greek Mythology.

Note: I didn't read those books, so don't sue me it these aren't good for
your tastes! ]


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