Give me a word, any word and I will show you the root of that word is Greek…

Tantalize: To torment or tease someone with the unobtainable, to excite the senses or desires. To fascinate and allure, this Greek word has many meanings but how did it originate? It is said that half-god half-nymph Tantalus was at the source of this now modern word. It seems the nymph side of Tantalus was stronger than the side that gave him his God status and after being invited at the table by Zeus, who favoured him, stole Ambrosia and Nectar, the food of the Gods and divulged the secrets of the Gods to the mortals.

The Gods were not to be messed with and the actions of Tantalus did not go unpunished. Forced to stand in a pool of water below a fruit tree with low-hanging branches, he would reach down to take a drink, the waters would recede and when he reached up to pluck some fruit, the branches would rise up out of his reach. Poor Tantalus, his tantalizing ways meant he would be teased for the rest of eternity by food and drink he could never have.

© Michelle Sotiriou 2014

“The covetous man pines in plenty, like Tantalus up to the chin of water and yet thirsty”

Thomas Adams


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