In Greek myth Tartarus is a deity, son of Aither (Sky) and Gaia (Earth).
Additionally, the philosopher Plato wrote of Tartarus as a terrible place of afterlife punishment.
Over time Tartarus came to be spoken of as the lowest abyss in Hades.
The Greek poets say that Ixion and Tantalus were condemned to Tartarus for offending the gods. The evil Titans also were sent there for punishment.
Interestingly, Tantalus was the name of a Penal Colony in the original Star Trek TV series, where people’s minds were blanked out as part of their psychiatric treatment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagger_of_the_Mind).
Digital Dame adds:
Another ST tie-in for Tantalus: In the episode “Mirror, Mirror” where they transposed with their evil counterparts in an alternate universe, Mirror-Kirk’s girlfriend, Marlena, shows good Kirk the Tantalus Device, or Tantalus Field, that vaporizes his enemies. » See in context
David Sacks, A Dictionary of the Ancient Greek World, Oxford 1995, pp. 8-9.
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