Let me quote from Michgan University Prof. Juan Cole, who took on Andrew Sullivan of Sunday Times for his 28 August article ‘Iraq still offers a tantalising prospect of success’;
“It should be remembered where the word "tantalizing" came from” wrote Prof Cole . He then lets Odysseus describe a scene in Hades in Homer's Odyssey:
'"I also saw the awful agonies that Tantalus has to bear. The old man was standing in a pool of water which nearly reached his chin, and his thirst drove him to unceasing efforts; but he could never get a drop to drink. For whenever he stooped in his eagerness to lap the water, it disappeared. The pool was swallowed up, and all he saw at his feet was the dark earth, which some mysterious power had parched. Trees spread their foliage high over the pool and dangle fruits above his head—pear-trees and pomegranates, apple-trees with their glossy burden, sweet figs and luxuriant olives. But whenever the old man tried to grasp them in his hands, the wind would toss them up towards the shadowy clouds.
“The American Right playing Tantalus, and Iraq as their punishment in Hades, is a more appropriate comparison than Mr. Sullivan perhaps realized. Tantalus was notorious for ever wanting more, for wanting to be god-like, just as the Bushies think that they are manufacturers of reality and the rest of wretched humanity is clay in their divine hands. It should also be remembered that some say Tantalus was punished by the gods for having invited them to a banquet and having served them food into which the remains of his son, whom he had killed, had been ground up. The warmongers' sacrifice of Americans' children for their aggressive policies is a similar sin.