In Greek myth Tartarus is a deity, son of Aither (Sky) and Gaia (Earth). Over time, Tartarus came to be regarded as the lowest abyss in Hades. The philosopher Plato wrote of Tartarus as a dreadful place of afterlife punishment.
The Greek poets say that the Kings Ixion and Tantalus were condemned to Tartarus for offending the gods. And King Sisyphus was sent to Tartarus for murdering his guests, seducing his niece, and spilling the beans on Zeus’ sexual practices. The ruler of the Titans was also sent to Tartarus.
Concerning Tantalus, we see again how ancient myth is adapted to modern times. In the original Star Trek TV show, Tantalus is the name of a Penal Colony where people’s minds are blanked out as part of their psychiatric treatment.¹
This is a captivating episode and runs counter to those existential or, perhaps, postmodern pundits who claim that ancient myth has “died” in a supposedly vulgar void of contemporary meaningless. I think people who say that just don’t get Western culture. Or their own culture or subculture is so messed up that it taints their entire outlook, makes them cynical, etc.
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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