In Lydia, near Mount Sipila, there was a rich city called by the name of Mount Sipil. This city was ruled by the favorite of the gods, the son of Zeus Tantalus. The gods rewarded him with everything in abundance. There was no one on earth who was richer and happier than King Sipil, Tantalus. Incalculable riches were given to him by the richest gold mines on Mount Sipile. No one had such fertile fields, no one brought such beautiful fruits to orchards and vineyards. On the meadows of Tantalus, the favorite of the gods, huge herds of fine-fleeced sheep, steep-horned bulls, cows and herds of horses as fast as the wind grazed. King Tantalus had an abundance in everything. He could have lived in happiness and contentment until a very old age, but excessive pride and crime ruined him.
The gods looked at their pet Tantalus as an equal. The Olympians often came to the shining golden halls of Tantalus and feasted merrily with him. Even on the bright Olympus, where no mortal ascends, Tantalus ascended more than once at the call of the gods. There he took part in the council of the gods and feasted at the same table with them in the palace of his father, the thunderer Zeus. Tantalus was proud of such great happiness. He began to consider himself equal even to the very cloud-runner Zeus. Often, returning from Olympus, Tantalus took with him the food of the gods - ambrosia and nectar - and gave them to his mortal friends, feasting with them in his palace. Even the decisions that the gods made, conferring on the bright Olympus about the fate of the world, Tantalus informed people; he did not keep the secrets that his father Zeus confided to him. Once during a feast on Olympus, the great son Krona turned to Tantalus and said to him:
- My son, I will fulfill whatever you wish, ask me for whatever you want. Out of love for you, I will fulfill any of your requests.But Tantalus, forgetting that he was only mortal, proudly replied to his father, the aegis-bearing Zeus:
- I don't need your favors. I don't need anything. The lot that has fallen to my lot is more beautiful than the lot of the immortal gods.
The Thunderer did not answer his son. He furrowed his brows menacingly, but restrained his anger. He still loved his son, despite his arrogance. Soon Tantalus twice cruelly insulted the immortal gods. Only then did Zeus punish the arrogant one.
There was a golden dog in Crete, the birthplace of the Thunderer. Once she guarded the newborn Zeus and the wonderful goat that fed him Amalfeya. When Zeus grew up and took away the power of the world from Cronus, he left this dog in Crete to guard his sanctuary. The King of Ephesus Pandareus, seduced by the beauty and strength of this dog, secretly came to Crete and took her away on his ship from Crete. But where to hide a wonderful animal? Pandareus thought about this for a long time during the journey by sea and finally decided to give the golden dog to Tantalus for safekeeping. King Sipila hid a wonderful animal from the gods. Zeus was angry. He called his son, the messenger of the gods Hermes, and sent him to Tantalus to demand the return of the golden dog from him. In the blink of an eye, Hermes rushed from Olympus to Sipil, appeared before Tantalus and said to him:
- The king of Ephesus, Pandareus, stole a golden dog from the sanctuary of Zeus in Crete and gave it to you for safekeeping. The gods of Olympus know everything, mortals can't hide anything from them! Return the dog to Zeus. Beware of incurring the wrath of the Thunderer!
Tantalus answered the messenger of the gods in this way:
- In vain you threaten me with the wrath of Zeus. I have not seen a golden dog. The gods are wrong, I don't have it.
Tantalus swore a terrible oath that he was telling the truth. With this oath he angered Zeus even more. This was Tantalus' first insult to the gods. But even now the thunderer did not punish him.The punishment of the gods was brought upon Tantalus by the next, second insult to the gods and a terrible crime. When the Olympians gathered for a feast in the palace of Tantalus, he decided to test their omniscience. King Sipila did not believe in the omniscience of the Olympians. Tantalus prepared a terrible meal for the gods. He killed his son Pelops and served his meat under the guise of a fine dish to the gods during a feast. The gods immediately comprehended the evil intent of Tantalus, none of them touched the terrible dish. Only the goddess Demeter, full of grief for her daughter stolen from her Persephone, thinking only of her and in her grief not noticing anything around, ate the shoulder of a young Pelops. The gods took a terrible dish, put all the meat and bones of the Pelops in a cauldron and put it on a blazing fire. Hermes, with his charms, revived the boy again. He appeared before the gods even more beautiful than he was before, only he lacked the shoulder that Demeter ate. At the behest of Zeus, the great Hephaestus immediately made Pelops a shoulder made of shiny ivory. Since then, all the descendants of Pelops have a bright white spot on the right shoulder.
The crime of Tantalus overflowed the cup of patience of the great king of gods and men, Zeus. The Thunderer has cast Tantalus into the dark realm of his brother Hades; there he bears a terrible punishment. Tormented by thirst and hunger, he stands in clear water. It reaches up to his chin. He only has to bend down to quench his agonizing thirst. But as soon as Tantalus bends down, the water disappears, and under his feet there is only dry black earth. The branches of fertile trees bend over Tantalus' head: juicy figs, ruddy apples, pomegranates, pears and olives hang low over his head; heavy, ripe bunches of grapes almost touch his hair. Exhausted by hunger, Tantalus stretches out his hands for the beautiful fruits, but a gust of stormy wind blows and takes away the fruitful branches. Not only hunger and thirst torment Tantalus, eternal fear squeezes his heart. A rock hung over his head, barely holding on, threatening to fall every minute and crush Tantalus with its weight. This is how King Sipila, the son of Zeus Tantalus, suffers in the kingdom of the terrible Hades with eternal fear, hunger and thirst.