Sisyphus in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
（*Si/sufos), a son of Aeolus and Enarete, whence he is
called Aeolides (Hom. Il. 6.154; Hor. Carm. 2.14. 20). He
was accordingly a brother of Cretheus, Athamas, Salmoneus,
Deion, Magnes, Perieres, Canace, Alcyone, Peisidice, Calyce
and Perimede (Apollod. 1.7.3; Paus. 10.31.2). He was married
to Merope, a daughter of Atlas or a Pleiad (Apollod. 1.9.3;
Ov. Fast. 4.175; comp. MEROPE), and became by her the father
of Glaucus, Ornytion (or Porphyrion, Schol. ad Apollon.
Rhod. 3.1094), Thersandrus, and Halmus (Paus. 2.4.3,
9.34.5). In later accounts he is also called a son of
Autolycus, and the father of Sinon (Serv. ad Aen. 2.79) and
Odysseus. who is hence called Sisyphides (Ov. Met. 13.31;
Serv. ad Aen. 6.529; Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 344; Eustath. ad Hom.
p. 1701). He is said to have built the town of Ephyra,
afterwards Corinth (Hom. Il. 6.153; Apollod. 1.9.3), though,
according to another tradition, Medea, on leaving Corinth,
gave him the government of that city (Paus. 2.3. in fin.).
As king of Corinth he promoted navigation and commerce, but
was fraudulent, avaricious, and altogether of bad character,
and his whole house was in as bad repute as he himself (Hom.
Il. 6.153; Theogn. 703, 712; Schol. ad Aristoph. Ach. 390,
ad Soph. Aj. 190; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1701; Tzetz. ad
Lycoph. 980; Ov. Ep. 12.204; Horat. Sat. 2.17. 12). He is
said to have found the body of Melicertes on the coast of
Corinth, to have buried it on the isthmus, and to have
founded the Isthmian games in honour of him (Ino and
Palaemon, Paus. 2.1.3; Apollod. 3.4.3; Schol. ad Apollon.
Rhod. 3.1240; Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 107, 229). His wickedness
during life was severely punished in the lower world, where
he had to roll up hill a huge marble block, which as soon as
it reached the top always rolled down again (Cic. Tusc. 1.5;
Verg. G. 3.39; Ov. Met. 4.459, Ib. 175; Lucret. 3.1013). The
special reasons for this punishment are not the same in all
authors; some say that it was because he had betrayed the
designs of the gods (Serv. ad Aen. 6.616; Schol. ad Hom. Il.
1.180, 6.153), others because he attacked travellers. and
killed them with a huge block of stone. He was slain,
according to some, by Theseus (Schol. ad Stat. Theb. 2.380),
while other traditions relate that Sisyphus lived in enmity
with his brother Salmoneus, and consulted the oracle how he
might get rid of him. Apollo answered, that if he begot sons
by Tyro, the wife of his brother, they would avenge him.
Sisyphus indeed became the father of two sons by Tyro, but
the mother killed them immediately after their birth.
Sisyphus took cruel vengeance on her, and was punished for
it in the lower world (Hyg. Fab. 60). Another tradition
states that when Zeus had carried off Aegina, the daughter
of Asopus, from Phlius, Sisyphus betrayed the matter to
Asopus, and was rewarded by him with a well on
Acrocorinthus, but Zeus punished him in the lower world.
(Apollod. 1.9.3, 3.12.6; Paus. 2.5.1 ; Tzetz. ad Lycoph.
176.) Others, again, say that Zeus, to avenge his treachery,
sent Death to Sisyphus, who, however, succeeded in putting
Death into chains, so that no man died until Ares delivered
Death, whereupon Sisyphus himself also expired (Eustath. ad
Hom. pp. 631, 1702). Before he died he desired his wife not
to bury him. She having complied with his request, Sisyphus
in the lower world complained of his being neglected, and
desired Pluto, or Persephone, to allow him to return to the
upper world to punish his wife. When this request was
granted, he refused to return to the lower world, until
Hermes carried him off by force; and this piece of treachery
is said to be the cause of his punishment (Eustath. l.c. ;
Theogn. 700, &c.; Schol. ad Pind. Isthm. 1.97, ad Soph. Aj.
625; Hor. Carm. 2.24. 20). His punishment was represented by
Polygnotus in the Lesche at Delphi (Paus. 10.31.2). He was
believed to have been buried on the isthmus, but very few
even among his contemporaries knew the exact place. (Paus.
2.2.2; comp. Völcker, Mythol. des Iapet. Geschl. p. 241.) -
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology,
William Smith, Ed.
Sisyphus in Wikipedia
In Greek mythology Sisyphus (pronounced /ˈsɪsəfəs/; Greek:
Σίσυφος sísypʰos /ˈsisifos/ ( listen)) was a king punished by
being compelled to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to
watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout
eternity. He is also found in Roman mythology.
The word sisyphean means, according to the American Heritage
Dictionary, "endless and unavailing, as labor or a task."...