Aw yes cannibalism, it is in many of the tales of the Ancient Greeks, from Cronus to giant Laestrygonians, the Greeks liked to talk about cannibalism and human sacrifice. However, it was not because they condoned it, far from it they saw these acts as the most gruesome and barbaric that a mortal could do; so they made up these stories that showed what terrible things would happen to a person if he committed these acts. Thus we get to today's tale, the story of a jackass king who thought he could trick the gods with a special meal, only to be punished for his deeds. This my friends is the tale of Tantalus.
Because he was a son of Zeus, Tantalus was often invited up to his father's extravagant parties, where the gods ate and drank ambrosia and nectar as the dinner party eventually into one massive orgy (man those Greeks knew how to party!) Well Tantalus was a mischievous young king who thought it would be funny if he stole the nectar and ambrosia in order to give it to the mortals (along with the secrets of the gods). Because of his powerful father, Tantalus was arrogant and thought he could get away with anything, even with the murder.
Wait a minute, this is not roasted chicken!
Wanting to test the knowledge of the gods, Tantalus decided that he would murder HIS own son Pelops, chop him into pieces, and make a STEW out of HIS BABY SON. Why he didn't do the smart thing and murder someone's son to serve to the gods, I don't know, but then again he was an arrogant bastard (he is a son of Zeus you know) who thought he could get away with infanticide, blasphemy, and human sacrifice. So when Tantalus presented the pot of boiled baby parts as an offering; Demeter, who was still grieving the loss of her daughter Persephone to the lord of the Underworld, (Aw walk it off Barbra!) She alone ate the left shoulder of Pelops, because the other gods were smart enough to realize what Tantalus was trying to pull. They refrained from eating and kicked Tantalus out of Olympus permanently, but they kept the pot. For they needed to restore the body of Pelops, by the orders of the Fate Clotho herself!
It's so close, but so far away!
The boy's body parts were placed in a sacred cauldron, where they boiled and began to reform the body of Pelops, but what of the left shoulder that Demeter had so carelessly consumed? Well we need not worry, for Hephaestus was on the job (insert cheesy action montage music here) and he constructed a shoulder for the baby Pelops, made out of solid ivory. The boy would from then on grow up with the immortals eventually becoming Poseidon's apprentice (infanticide was wrong, but pedophilia was okay to the Greeks). As for Tantalus, well when he died he would find that there was a reserved spot in Tartarus for him, where he would forever float in a pool of water that would recede from his lips when he tried to drink and fruit above him that would always be beyond his grasp. (Hence where we get the word tantalize)
Artwork at the top belongs to http://greenbushido.deviantart.com/