"It is a pitiless dream which the creator of the Tantalus myth must have known"
Tantalus
Public DomainTantalus

Tantalus is a figure in Greek mythology.

Tantalus offered up his son Pelops as a sacrifice to the Gods, cutting him up, boiling him and serving him up at a banquet. Aware of the gruesome nature of the menu, the Gods didn't touch the offering. Only Demeter, distraught at the loss of her daughter Persephone, absentmindedly ate part of the boy's shoulder. Zeus (King of the Gods) ordered Clotho, one of the three Fates, to bring the boy to life again. His body parts were collected in a sacred cauldron and boiled, and his shoulder rebuilt from ivory. Pelops grew to be extraordinarily handsome, so much so that the god Poseidon fell in love with him and abducted him to Mount Olympus.

Tantalus's crimes of cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide were atrocities and breached all taboos. The punishment for his act (now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction, and the source of the English word tantalise), was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal beyond his grasp. Whenever he bent to drink, the water receded before he could reach any. His fate was to be cursed with eternal deprivation.