63. Tantalus offers his son’s flesh as meal

Once upon a time, Tantalus, a son of Zeus, was the favorite of the gods and Zeus, confided in him. But those who have the benefit of privileges, generally, also turn boastful and take undue advantages. Tantalus boasted of his unique friendship with the gods, and his pride-filled unbridled tongue, revealed godly plans to mortal men. He thought the gods would forgive whatever he did.

Glutted with his perverted surpassing pride, he invited the gods for a banquet. Impiously, Tantalus cut Pelops, his own son from Dione, the daughter of Atlas, into pieces. Then he boiled and cooked the pieces, to serve as a meal for the gods, in a vulgar attempt to trick the immortals.

But the immortal gods were not fooled by this bizarre act; however, Demeter, absorbed in her grief about her lost daughter Persephone, had already consumed a portion of Pelops’ shoulder. Thereupon, the gods instructed Hermes to gather all the pieces, put them in a cauldron, restore them to their original appearance, and make Pelops alive. Hermes did accordingly, and when Clotho took Pelops out of the cauldron, they found a portion of his shoulder missing. Demeter had accidentally consumed that portion and she filled it with one made of ivory. Pelops came back to life, fairer than ever.

The gods were furious at Tantalus. Zeus punished Tantalus by sending him to Haides, where he was made to stand in a pool of water, which nearly touched his chin. But as he bent his head to drink the water, the water always receded. Surrounding the pool were several pear, pomegranate, apple, fig, and olive trees. But as Tantalus stretched his hand to grab a fruit, from any stooping branch of any tree, a wind would toss the branch upwards, far beyond his reach. Tantalus could neither eat nor drink, and forever remained hungry and thirsty. Additionally, above his head, Zeus hung a mighty stone, which always threatened to fall down and crush his head.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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