Tag Archives: Sisyphus

What is The Myth of the Sisyphus by Albert Camus all about?

21 Apr

In The Myth of the Sisyphus Camus states that there is a gap between what we as people want in life, and what we get in life. Never in life will we fine the meaning of what we are searching for. We either conclude that life is meaningless or we place all our hopes in an all powerful god. He asks if life is meaningless, then what is the purpose of living? Why not commit suicide if there is no meaning? Camus describes this as living with the absurd. He suggests the idea of facing the absurd which is not coming to terms with the meaningless of life and ending it but in fact understanding the insignificance of life and living life to the fullest. Camus then compares this to the Greek myth of the Sisyphus in which Sisyphus must roll a rock up a hill for all eternity, only to have to do it all over again every time he reaches the top. He draws this similarity to his belief in the meaninglessness of life and how man must struggle everlastingly without any hope of success. Essentially The Myth of the Sisyphus is Camus way of explaining existential nihilism portraying life as being void of any intrinsic value, yet still being worth the pains of life.

Sisyphus

21 Apr

Sisyphus was famous for two things: his cleverness during his life and his punishment after death. Stories about him are sometimes different, but usually he is referred to as King of Corinth. One story involves Autolycus, who stole cattle and also changed their colour so that they couldn’t be identified. Sisyphus outsmarted Autolycus by putting a mark on their hooves so that he could follow their prints in the ground once they were stolen. In another story, Sisyphus dies twice. In the beginning he sees Zeus kidnapping a nymph. He promised to keep her hiding place a secret, however, Sisyphus betrayed Zeus, by telling nymph’s father the location of his daughter. Zeus got furious and so he sent Thanatos (death) to take Sisyphus to Hades, the ruler of the underworld. Sisyphus tied up Thanatos, and so for days no one on earth died, but after some time Ares went to free Thanatos and took Sisyphus to the underworld. Sisyphus told his wife not to bury him and managed to persuade Hades to let him come back to earth so that he could arrange a proper funeral. After returning to Corinth, he stayed there until he died again. After all the tricks he played on the gods, he was punished and put on a hillside in the underworld with a heavy boulder above him, and to escape death he needed to push it uphill. The gods told him that if he rolled the stone to the other side they would release him, but the boulder kept on rolling back down to the bottom once he reached the top. So the phrase “Labor of Sisyphus” refers to a hopeless task that must be repeated over and over.

Source Citation: “Sisyphus.” Myths and Legends of the World. Ed. John M. Wickersham. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2000. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.