"Sisyphean task"

08 March 2021

One thing is clear: nobody likes to do Sisyphus work. But what does this strange word actually mean? We clarify.

According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the king of the ancient city of Corinth. He was very clever and took advantage of this by tricking the Greek gods. After outwitting the god of death Thanatos several times and betraying Zeus, the father of the gods, he eventually had to atone for his sin. He was forced into the underworld to roll a huge chunk of stone up a mountain. Since the stone was extremely heavy, it kept rolling down and Sisyphus had to constantly start over. Sisyphus thus never managed to get the stone to the top of the mountain.

Thousands of years later, we still use the term Sisyphusarbeit to refer to meaningless, laborious activities that never reach their destination. Some of us even perceive it as a punishment - just as was the case with good old Sisyphus.