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The fable of Tantalus has generally been regarded as symbolizing avarice. It’s at least equally applicable to ambition, love of fame, indeed to almost every passion.
[La fable de Tantale n’a presque jamais servi d’emblème qu’à l’avarice. Mais elle est, pour le moins, autant celui de l’ambition, de l’amour de la gloire, de presque toutes les passions.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 1, ¶ 70 (1795) [tr. Parmée (2003), ¶ 58]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

The fable of Tantalus is hardly ever applied except to the passion of avarice; but it is at least as applicable to ambition, to the love of glory, and to nearly all the other passions.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

The fable of Tantalus has been used almost exclusively as an emblem of avarice, but it is at least as applicable to ambition, the love of fame, and virtually all the passions.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

The fable of Tantalus has almost never served as a precept except in the case of avarice. But it is, at all events, a precept attaching no wit less to ambition, to love of glory, to almost all passions.
[tr. Pearson (1973)]

The fable of Tantalus has nearly only ever served as an emblem of avarice. However, it is at least as much a symbol of ambition, of the love of glory, and of nearly every passion.
[tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

Added on 5-Feb-24 | Last updated 5-Feb-24
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For all my rational Western intellect and education, I was for the moment overwhelmed by a primitive sense of living in a world ordered by a malign and perverted god, and it coloured my view of everything that afternoon — even the coconuts. The villagers sold us some and split them open for us. They are almost perfectly designed. You first make a hole and drink the milk, and then you split open the nut with a machete and slice off a segment of the shell, which forms a perfect implement for scooping out the coconut flesh inside. What makes you wonder about the nature of this god character is that he creates something that is so perfectly designed to be of benefit to human beings and then hangs it twenty feet above their heads on a tree with no branches.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
Last Chance to See, ch. 2 (1990)
Added on 13-Jul-15 | Last updated 13-Jul-15
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