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Mythology

  • Prometheus's fate to be chained to a rock and have his ever-regrowing liver serve as a buffet for an eagle for eternity.
    • In the tragedy Prometheus Bound, lots of people come past his rock -- not to point and laugh but sympathize and chat -- a chorus of Oceanids, Io, etc. That's probably just one take on the myth, but still. Ultimately, he was rescued by Heracles, who obviously had to know where he was. Is it wrong to find that scenario perversely comical? ("Hey, Prometheus, how're you doing?" "Oh, you know, Julius, same shit, different day." "Say, the 10:15 eagle is running late." "Yeah, that guy's a slacker. [eagle arrives] Hey, where ya been? This liver's not gonna eat itself!")
      • Well, one Horrible Histories book did try for a moderately humorous version in which they refer to each other as "Prommy" and "Eddie". This being an HH book, Prommy announced at the end that he was going to eat the eagle's liver.
      • And in the animated series based on Disney's Hercules, the eagle brings an onion with him because a diet consisting entirely of liver doesn't provide enough roughage. Prometheus hopes he gets indigestion from eating his liver with an onion.
      • Another variation on the story has the eagle being friends with Prometheus, they carry on a brief chat until the eagle goes mad and tears out Prometheus liver. The eagle being forced to do this every day against his will might constitute a minor version of this trope.
    • Prometheus still exults in being able to resist telling Zeus the secret of his eventual overthrow, a fate that Zeus has been anxious to evade ever since the start of his reign.
  • Atlas being condemned to bear the heavens (not the world) on his shoulders for eternity.
    • Then being turned to stone by Athena, using Medusa's head.
    • Although in some versions he asked to be turned to stone, as carrying the heavens had become too much for him to bear.
  • Most of the Greek Titans are bound in Tartarus. As are the giants. Likewise, the Hebrew Watchers are bound in "deepest darkness," rendered in some accounts as Tartarus. The Nephilim were either bound in Tartarus or drowned in the Great Flood. Depending on the source, Satan, too, is cast into Tartarus.
  • Loki, the bad boy of Norse Mythology, was chained to a rock with a serpent eternally dripping caustic venom in his face. His wife, Sigyn, stands over him catching the venom in a bowl, occasionally has to turn aside to empty the bowl before it overflows. When she turns aside to do so, or if she allows it to become overfull and spill, his spasms of pain cause earthquakes. (Considering how many bastard children he's supposed to have fathered with giantesses and the like, one wonders if it's entirely accidental.)
    • Neil Gaiman made Loki's punishment even worse in The Sandman. Same as before, except Loki's neck has been broken and his eyes ripped out, the Corinthian being responsible for both, meaning that now he has snake venom dripping into his eye sockets.
    • Another fun example from Norse mythology: the fate of Loki's monster offspring, the wolf Fenrir. It is bound by unbreakable fetters and gagged by a sword stuck in the roof of its mouth. A river of blood and saliva flows continuously from its jaws. It remains bound and gagged like this until the end of time.
  • Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt for taking a last look at the home she lived in for so many years. Whether she was conscious after the transformation is to be debated, but if she was she couldn't move or speak while her salt body was slowly eroded by rainfall and winds (and maybe some local deer).
  • Philemon and Baucis, who were turned into trees. They seemed pretty happy about it, though, and it was a reward. And since they asked to die together, it's likely they weren't conscious any more and the trees were more of a marker.
  • Tantalus is to stand in a pool of water with fruit hanging over him. Whenever he tries to take a drink...it moves away. Whenever he tries to take fruit, it moves away.
  • Sisyphus is told to move a rock up a hill. when it reaches the top...it rolls right back on down.
    • Anyone who has ever worked public service can probably tell you exactly how it feels to be stuck like that. (You try to clean something, or you think you finally can catch a breather or clean up after previous customers...and then a bus full of scouts or minivan full of people drives up and...)
  • There were actually a bunch of women who murdered their husbands in Tartarus who had to carry water from one place to the next. The jugs they had to carry it in were full of leaks so by the time they reached it, they would be empty and have to go back over and over and over and over again.
  • In Chumash folklore (Native American tribe from Southern California), souls of murderers and other evil people are turned to stone from the neck down and are forced to watch other souls travel to the afterlife.
  • Lakota mythology features one story dealing with the origin of the sweat: A boy whose uncles were all captured by a witch and dehydrated. As the vapors entered their bodies, they were restored.
  • In Greek Mythology, Tithonus is granted immortality, but not eternal youth. As a result, his body withers and his mind decays; he remains, for all time, forgotten in some hidden room, babbling endlessly. (In another story, he eventually turns into a cricket.)
  • Another Greek myth example: When the gods want to swear the most solemn of oaths, they swear on the River Styx in the Underworld. Some authors simply have the oath unbreakable, but others say it can be broken. The consequences are harsh indeed: for a year the oathbreaker lies unable to eat, drink, move, or breathe (and Greek gods cannot die). The next nine years, in which they merely cannot associate with other deities at all, looks mild in comparison.

Religion

  • Gehenna (AKA Valley of Hinnom), a valley near Jerusalem's Old City, has been used in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as an analogous or symbolic reference for Hell itself.
    • In Judaism, this place is sometimes used to refer to She'ol, where wicked souls are sent for punishment and/or purification for roughly a year's time before being sent to the afterlife. The really wicked souls are destroyed instead.
  • In Mark's gospel, Jesus refers to the Book of Isaiah's description of Hell in one of his sermons, specifically that those in Hell suffer everlasting fire, and that "their worm does not die" (they would be conscious of their perpetually rotting state). This is also where symbolic references to Gehenna (above) are made.
    • Matthew's gospel recounts that Jesus spoke of Hell as "darkness" and "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (sorrow and regret).
      • Later theologians, such as CS Lewis, speculate based on Jesus' statements in Matthew's gospel that the main punishment of Hell is mostly (or exclusively) from the isolation from God.
      • Alice Cooper made the analogy of a toothache over your entire body. For eternity. And then Sesame Street decided to use that in a Muppet short during the episode in which Alice Cooper guest-starred. That's... kinda creepy.

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