Mythology
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The Most Epic Punishments Doled Out by Mythological Gods

Updated January 10, 2020 36.8k votes 6.4k voters 455.8k views17 items

List RulesVote up the punishments you really, really wouldn't want to endure.

These horrible punishments in mythology will make you thankful to live in a modern world, where there is a legitimate legal system to determine the punishments people get for bad acts. However cruel or unfair you think your law system is, it’s really nothing compared to the most severe punishments doled out by Greek and Roman gods .

Some people believe that good deeds will bring us rewards and bad deeds will bring us punishment. Some call it karma , others call it cosmic retribution or even religious reckoning. However, no one punishes like the great Greek gods. Maybe it’s because their power is supreme and they can do just about anything, but these punishments from the gods are cruel beyond common sense.

What follows are some of the worst punishments in mythology. If you believe that karma’s a b*tch, well, then these gods are even b*tchier. Vote up the punishments you really, really wouldn't want to endure.

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  • Photo: Anonymous / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    1

    Zeus Chained Prometheus To A Rock Where An Eagle Would Eat His Liver Every Night

    Zeus resented Prometheus for giving fire to mankind and generally being willful and defiant. For his disobedience, Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock on the side of a mountain. But of course, that wasn't enough. Every night, an eagle would come and peck on his abdomen and munch on his liver.

    His liver would then regenerated during the day so that the eagle could have at it, again and again, every night. Eventually, he was freed by Chiron, a centaur who gave his life for Prometheus's, and Heracles, who offed that pesky eagle. 

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  • Photo: Jules-Élie Delaunay / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    2

    Zeus Bound Ixion To An Eternally Burning Wheel

    One day, Zeus was kind enough to invite Ixion to Olympus as a guest. However, when the mortal saw Hera, Zeus’s wife, he was attracted to her and made his move to seduce her. Zeus decided to test Ixion’s loyalty and made a cloud copy of his wife. Ixion fell for it and somehow impregnated the cloud-Hera, who later bore the monster Centaurus.

    Zeus blasted Ixion with his powerful lightning bolt and bound him to a burning wheel that would spin forever. Ixion was forced to repeat the words "Repay your benefactor frequently with gentle favors in return" for eternity.

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  • Photo: Jan Steen / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    3

    Demeter Cursed Erysichthon With An Insatiable Hunger

    Erisychthon was a king with a serious case of hubris. He desired a large banquet table, so naturally, he cut down trees from Demeter's grove, because goddesses definitely don't mind when you disrespect them, right? Wrong. In retaliation, she cursed him with never-ending hunger. He would yearn for anything digestible and eat it, but the hunger was insatiable. In frustration, Erysichthon ended up eating his own flesh until he perished.

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    Apollo Flayed Marsyas Alive, Then Turned Him Into A Stream

    After he accidentally discovered a flute cast away by Athena, Marsyas was reckless enough to challenge Apollo to a contest. The two agreed to the terms that the winner could do anything to the defeated one. Naturally, Marsyas lost to the god. As punishment, Marsyas was skinned alive. Apollo then transformed him into a stream.

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