Agon: Absurdism and Life Sisyphus Essay

Submitted By l37b37
Words: 948
Pages: 4

In Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus,” the reader is presented with a completely new way to look at this ancient story. Rather then looking at the life Sisyphus led while he was on Earth, Camus presents the life Sisyphus led while in the underworld. More specifically, Camus doesn’t focus on Sisyphus’ struggle or punishment, but instead focuses on his ability to overcome his punishment and be happy in spite of it. Through out the reading Sisyphus makes several different attempts at dealing with the demands and punishment placed upon him; the first being simple defiance, and the second, and most profound, is acceptance. Through out his life Sisyphus has many demands placed upon him by the gods, all of which he meets with defiance; such as when Aesopus asks Sisyphus about the disappearance of his daughter, Aegina. Sisyphus would only tell who did it if Aesopus would give water to the citadel of Corinth. Instead of being forthcoming with the information he had, Sisyphus decides rather to blackmail Aesopus so that he could gain something for the people of Corinth. His only motivation for doing this act was to gain something for his people and himself; which is why he chose the gift of water over the celestial thunder bolts. He chose the water because it was something they could get the most use out of. Sisyphus’ defiance of the gods wasn’t just for the benefit of the people but also for his own personal gain. In addition to defying the gods for the benefit of his people he also defied the gods for his own benefit. For example, “When he had seen again the face of this world, enjoyed water and sun, warm stones and the sea, he no longer wanted to go back to the infernal darkness. Recalls, signs of anger, warnings were of no avail.” Despite constant warnings from the gods Sisyphus remains hard nosed and stubborn and only focuses on himself and what he wanted to do. Because of his stubbornness he earns himself what could be considered the harshest of punishments, an eternity of futile labor; in which he has to push a stone up a mountain, but he was even able to overcome this and defy of the gods. As one looks at Sisyphus, he sees someone, “straining to raise a huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a hundred times over, one sees the face skewed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it,” and a smile on his face. One may ask how someone can still smile in the face of adversity. How he can smile even when he is condemned to an eternity of futile labor. This isn’t something that just came to Sisyphus; it is rather something that he has come to realize. At first, Sisyphus undertakes his task begrudgingly; as he is going back down the mountain he has a “heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end.” As a result of this punishment Sisyphus suffers from a melancholy that stems from his longing to see the world again and his passion for life, which causes him to go through his life in and almost robotic, unconscious, manner. It is in these moments that the gods have won; the rock has won. But this is not Sisyphus, he is not one to lie down and let fate be his master. He has conquered death before, and even placed him in chains. Similarly, he will overcome his punishment he will conquer…