The myth of Sisyphus – Alex Gendler

Whether it’s being chained to a burning
wheel, turned into a spider, or having an eagle eat one’s liver, Greek mythology is filled
with stories of the gods inflicting gruesome horrors
on mortals who angered them. Yet one of their most famous
punishments is not remembered for its outrageous cruelty,
but for its disturbing familiarity. Sisyphus was the first king of Ephyra,
now known as Corinth. Although a clever ruler who made his city
prosperous, he was also a devious tyrant who seduced his niece and
killed visitors to show off his power. This violation of the sacred hospitality
tradition greatly angered the gods. But Sisyphus may still have
avoided punishment if it hadn’t been for his
reckless confidence. The trouble began when Zeus
kidnapped the nymph Aegina, carrying her away in the form
of a massive eagle. Aegina’s father, the river god Asopus,
pursued their trail to Ephyra, where he encountered Sisyphus. In exchange for the god making
a spring inside the city, the king told Asopus which way
Zeus had taken the girl. When Zeus found out, he was so furious
that he ordered Thanatos, or Death, to chain Sisyphus in the underworld
so he couldn’t cause any more problems. But Sisyphus lived up to
his crafty reputation. As he was about to be imprisoned, the king asked Thanatos to show him
how the chains worked – and quickly bound him instead,
before escaping back among the living. With Thanatos trapped, no one could die,
and the world was thrown into chaos. Things only returned to normal
when the god of war Ares, upset that battles were no longer fun,
freed Thanatos from his chains. Sisyphus knew his reckoning was at hand. But he had another trick up his sleeve. Before dying, he asked his wife Merope
to throw his body in the public square, from where it eventually washed up on
the shores of the river Styx. Now back among the dead,
Sisyphus approached Persephone, queen of the Underworld, and complained that his wife had disrespected him
by not giving him a proper burial. Persephone granted him permission to go
back to the land of living and punish Merope, on the condition that
he would return when he was done. Of course, Sisyphus refused
to keep his promise, now having twice escaped death
by tricking the gods. There wouldn’t be a third time, as the messenger Hermes dragged
Sisyphus back to Hades. The king had thought he was
more clever than the gods, but Zeus would have the last laugh. Sisyphus’s punishment was
a straightforward task – rolling a massive boulder up a hill. But just as he approached the top, the
rock would roll all the way back down, forcing him to start over …and over, and over, for all eternity. Historians have suggested that the tale
of Sisyphus may stem from ancient myths about the rising and setting sun,
or other natural cycles. But the vivid image of someone condemned
to endlessly repeat a futile task has resonated as an allegory
about the human condition. In his classic essay
The Myth of Sisyphus, existentialist philosopher Albert Camus
compared the punishment to humanity’s futile search
for meaning and truth in a meaningless and
indifferent universe. Instead of despairing, Camus imagined
Sisyphus defiantly meeting his fate as he walks down the hill to begin
rolling the rock again. And even if the daily
struggles of our lives sometimes seem equally
repetitive and absurd, we still give them significance and value
by embracing them as our own.

100 thoughts on “The myth of Sisyphus – Alex Gendler”

  1. I would like to recommend a song called endless by sodagreen, a taiwanese band. The song is written by the lead singer (wu qing feng) and it talks about finding the beauty in repetitive tasks and work that some people may find tedious. It also alludes to multiple greek myths(sisyphus included) so you might find it quite interesting.

  2. So what happens if Sisyphus was just like “Nah. I’m not gonna do that.” and refused to roll the boulder up the hill? What are they gonna do?

  3. its obvious that the idea of the name Thanos at the movie, came from the greek word thanatos which means death

  4. Actually, Sisyphus just needs to STOP…. but his EGO will never let him, admitting the task is impossible is something that IS impossible for him.

  5. lmfao, Zeus kidnapped somebody’s daughter, and when the father asks which direction she went, he chained him to the underworld??
    Wtf Zeus…

  6. Lmao the reason why Ares freed Thanatos was not because he cared but just because battles were no longer fun. Greek gods, man…

  7. And you've taken a story warning about ego driven recklessness, and warning that just because a risky gamble paid off once doesn't mean that same risky gamble will pay off thrice, and that it is our ego driven arrogance and refusal to accept humility is the source of how we fall into the sunk cost fallacy. Sisyphus will never admit to anyone, in particular himself, that he can't actually do it. He's not doing to see how much further he can get up each time. He's doing it because he doesn't want to admit he can't. It's what happens when our egos become the most important thing to us. He could be spending his energy on so much more, but instead he chooses to waste it not so much on an endless tasks, but a MEANINGLESS, and EMPTY endless task. Sisyphus is just another puppet to the Terrible Trivium.

  8. Really, Persephone? You fell for that one? You should already know Sisyphus is a [email protected]$$ who abuses his power, seduced his niece, violated hospitality by killing random guests for no reason, and has otherwise made himself public enemy #1 for the gods, in addition to already evading death once with the Thanatos debacle. He asks after dying to return to the living world for some errands, and you don’t at least get some minor underworld minion to keep him to his promise, or heck, punish Merope in his place so he doesn’t have a chance to escape?

  9. Those myths shows us just how things was back then, humans mostly trying to find fairy tales and those are still existing until now, but we as humans the only thing we can do is to change for better.

  10. So the guy didn’t even think of making holes on the cliff so that he don’t have to role from the beginning every time. Seriously, just find out how far he can push and make a hole near that place. He would reach the top in no time.

  11. Mans Search for Meaning was a life-changing book for me. It is very clever to offer it as a source of direction after putting forth the assertion that all of life is ultimately meaningless.

  12. Nobody can go on forever. I hate that my only option at independence and privacy is death. I hate that you people couldn't figure out why I hate Jimmy before I did. I hate that you people tortured me physically and emotionally. I hate that you exist at all.

  13. Once you think about it all the guy has to do is just pick up the boulder and carry the boulder up the hill

  14. “Thanatos”
    Thanos killed half the universe…
    Thanos is a part of Thanatos…
    But that’s just a theory…
    a GAmE tHeOrY!!111!1!!1!1!1,1!1,1,1,1,1,11!,!

  15. گنت اقراء روايه تدعي "شفيرة بلال" وعلي الرغم من كرهي الشديد للقراءه وحبي لل لهو والعبث إلا أنه حرك شئ غريب بداخلي …لقد تحدث عن الفرق بين صخرة بلال وصخرة سيزيف، لعل هذه الروايه تگون سببا في تغيير مجري حياتي وتحولي من حمل صخرة سيزيف الي حمل صخرة بلال……!!!
    لا اعلم ان گان سيهتم أحدهم بتعليقي هذا ام لا …هل سيترجمه أحدهم …هل سيقدر الله أن يقرئه عربيا….لا يهمني..يگفي اني قرأته وشعرت به يكفي انه نابع من داخلي يكفيني كل هذا⁦✍️⁩

  16. Ted ED if you make all your videos based on mythology or more of them your subscribers might even have 30 million in the future even schools would wanna use your content to teach young children the impact you’ll be doing will let everyone know how important is history and myths

    This comment will be popular and Ted Ed i love your content so much

  17. prometheus wasn't a mortal and sisyphus had a choice between the endless fields OR the boulder, with if he managed to roll up to the CEILING he'd me turned in to a imortal

  18. I really like the point that Sisyphus is the winner – even in his punishment – just because he KNOWS, that he can never finish his task and is kind of stuck in his punishment. In some strange mythological way he still is untouchable and immortal. And because he knows that the rock will always roll down, he can go after his task quite relaxed. Or stoic, to build a bridge to another great TEDed-video

  19. sisyphus murdered someone and served them at dinner. i heard nothing about sisyphus showing the way to zeus’s path,, but it’s most likely another version of the myth. it just makes more sense for sisyphus for violating more than just rules of hospitality, but also disrespecting the sacredness of family

  20. Sisyphus actually tied Thanatos and threw him under the bed, Ares busted in and found Thanatos’s wing sticking out and they sent him to the Underworld

  21. Cristiano Ronaldo would never stop rolling that boulder until he got it to the top of the hill. And HE WILL get it to the top of the hill.

  22. Sisyphus pushing the boulder up and down the hill is like bodybuilder lifting weights everyday. Everyone have their own sense of happiness.

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