Sisyphus was the first king and founder of Corinth. His father was Aeolus, the king of Thessaly and the winds and his mother was Enarete, the daughter of Deimachus. He also had a brother named, Salmoneus, who was the founder of Salmone in Pisatis. Sisyphus was married to Merope, a sea nymph, who bore him several children, including ; Glaucus (who was eaten by his own flesh eating horses), Thersander, Almus, Ornytion and Sinon.

Sisyphus promoted navigation and commerce, but was avaricious and deceitful, violating the laws of hospitality by killing travelers and guests. He took pleasure in these killings because they allowed him to maintain his dominant position. From Homer  onwards, Sisyphus was famed as the craftiest of men. He seduced his niece, took his brother's throne, and betrayed Zeus' secrets (one of which where he told the river god Asopus of the whereabouts of his daughter Aegina). He was also the founder of the Isthmian Games, which contained both athletic and artistic competitions.

Escaping death

According to Homer's Odyssey, Sisyphus was said to be the only mortal that cheated death. When Thanatos came to take Sisyphus to the underworld, to be punished for his crimes, Sisyphus devised a devious plan. When they arrived in the underworld, Sisyphus chained Thanatos up and escaped out of the underworld. He went back to the mortal world and continued to live a normal live.

However, due to Thanatos being tied up, he could not collect the souls of the dead. This meant that no one could die. This enraged the god Ares, because none of his enemies could die. According to some accounts, Ares himself went to release Thanatos, others say Hades and some also say that it was Zeus who helped Thanatos.

Sisyphus on the other hand, realising that death would come for him again, had devised a cunning plan with his wife. He told his wife that after his death, his wife had to strip him and put his naked body in the middle of the town. This meant that his wife would not perform the usual sacrifices and not bury her husband.

When Thanatos finally came to take Sisyphus to underworld, Sisyphus went with Thanatos. However, once they reached the underworld, Sisyphus told Hades that his wife had not done the usual sacrifices and had left his body unburied. He begged for Hades to allow him to go back to the living to see to that his body gets a proper burial and all the sacrifices are made. Hades allowed this and Sisyphus was free to go.

Upon returning to the living world, Sisyphus just continued to live his life until he finally died of old age. In his final death Zeus invervined and ensured that Sisyphus was punished for his deeds and trickery.


Sisyphus was banished to Tartarus after trying to cheat death, twice. He was punished by Zeus (some accounts say that he was punished by Hades) to push a gigantic boulder up a steep hill, only for it to roll down to the bottom once he gets to the top. He is then forced to push it up again. This vicious cycle was said to last for all eternity.


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