The holidays are finally over and that means it’s finally time to rid yourself of your family for another year.
We here at Stuff Monsters Like know all about your family. We spend an inordinate amount of time watching them from the windows late at night and examining their things while they’re in the shower.
We’re just trying to get to know you better, fair reader. And what we’ve learned is that your family has problems – lots of them.
And these problems can make you resent every single one of your relatives, even Grammy.
Now, we know people, if you can call them that, who will “take care of things” for you. But from what we’ve gathered about your morals and filial duty, we have another solution that will let you forgive your family’s indiscretions over the holidays.
And that’s by looking to the past so that we can tell you that it could always be much worse. You could be this guy.
(You might be wondering – “who are those women crowding around him and yapping away in his ear?” We’ll get to them in a minute.)
Orestes’ family was much worse off than yours. It all begins with a man named Tantalus. It’s important to distinguish Tantalus as a mere mortal because he had the great privilege of dining with the gods.
So, Tantalus invites the gods to his abode for some sup. However instead of offering chicken or fish, Tantalus went for the other white meat.
Tantalus tried to trick the gods into eating the cooked flesh of his son, Pelops. After Tantalus went through the trouble of slaughtering his son and boiling his flesh, the gods didn’t even take a “No, Thank You” bite.
The gods were, to put it lightly, upset that their human host would try to trick them into consuming a naughty slice of human cake.
The gods resurrected Pelops and even gave him a silver shoulder to replace the bit of him that Demeter swallowed. What kindness they used on the son they could not extend to the father. The gods banished Tantalus to the Hades where he resides today in a pool of water below a tree laden with fruit. Whenever Tantalus, dying of thirst and hunger, attempts to get a little water or pluck a ripe piece of fruit, the tree and pool retreat until they’re right out of his grasp. You could say that Tantalus is being tantalized for all eternity with no chance at satisfaction.
Pelops went on to have two children himself: Thyestes and Atreus. The trouble in the family continued. Thyestes and Atreus did not get along well. They fought over who had claim to the throne and they fought over who had claim to Atreus’ wife. When Atreus found out that his brother was sleeping with his woman, he did what any sane, rational man would do. He cut up his nephews and served them to his brother. Thyestes unknowingly ate his children and when he was done, Atreus whipped out their little hands and heads, laughing all the while.
Thyestes got Atreus back by, wait for it, raping his own daughter in the hopes that the resulting child (his son and grandson) would kill the man who did him wrong. Aegisthus, before he went on Jerry Springer, did kill Atreus. And he didn’t stop there…
The Orestes Saga continues in the next post from the SML New Ancient Correspondent . . .
Megan Miller is a classicist with a bent toward the macabre. She received her master’s from Oxford, but now tells as many monster stories as she can to the students in her university courses. To read more Ancient Correspondence, click here.