La fatica di Sisifo e le astuzie di Hades

Doralice Fabiano


What is the meaning of Sisyphus's punishment in the underworld? One possible answer lies in his celebrated craftiness, well known from many myths. Many ancient sources state that Sisyphus tried to deceive Hades and Persephone in order to escape from the underworld and return to the realm of the living. This undertaking is characterized in every respect by 'cunning', as both of Sisyphus's rivals are famous tricksters. In my view, Sisyphus's punishment must be interpreted in relation to his attempt to cross the boundaries of Hades: in the afterlife, Hades and Persephone condemn the hero to roll his stone perpetually without ever making progress. As Pherekydes suggests in his account, this punishment is to prevent another attempt at escape from the chains of death. This is confirmed by the fact that in Greek representation never-ending actions often serve as images of immobility, as in the tale of the fox of Teumessos.

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