What is a Tantalus?

Tantalus was a Phrygian king and the son of Zeus, who with his wife Omphale ruled over the land of Lydia. Tantalus was admitted to Mt. Olympus to reside with the gods. Tantalus rather than be content with his new surroundings, stole food, nectare, and ambrosia to give to his mortal friends on earth. Crime.

He then provided a great banquet for the gods and in an effort to test their omniscience he cut up his son Pelops and added him to the stew to see if they would know he had done it. Crime.

All but one of the gods realized immediately what had been done. Demeter, goddess of the Harvest, still in mourning the loss of her daughter Persephone ate most of Pelops shoulder before being stopped.

As Tantalus' punishment, he was condemned to be placed in a pool of water chin deep beneath fruit trees. When he bent to drink, the water would recede; when he reached for a fruit, the wind would blow it out of his reach. Tantalus also perjured himself in regards to a golden dog stolen from Zeus which resulted in having a huge boulder hung over his head as well, constantly threatening to fall and crush him.The good news is that Pelops was reconstructed and his missing shoulder was replaced with ivory by Demeter and Pan danced for joy.

Ok, so what does an ancient Greek king have to do with the Time Machine?

A tantalus in more modern times, is cheifly a stand, rack or in our case a chest which holds wine or other liqours contained in decanters but unreachable as they are secured with a lock. So just as Tantalus himslf could see the water and fruits but not partake of either, so it is with a tantalus. We can see the liquor but cannot reach it.

A three bottle rack style tanatalus.
The lock on the side prevents the top bar from rotating forward, thus preventing pilfering of the contents

This style tantalus is also in the film. It is on the center table while George's guests wait impatiently for him to arrive for dinner. The lock releases the two doors and thus allow the bottles to be removed.

Tantalus cabinet in closed position
Tantalus with lid/front opened
revealing the Time Machine model
Virtual rendition of the Tantalus created by Chris Perrotta
Advertisement for an original similar style Tantalus
from a turn of the century catalog
An actual turn of the century tantalus
for other examples click here

Scale drawing for a tantalus
styled after the one in the movie drawn by Chris Perrotta
And yes we have a copy of this for sale.


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The Time Machine Project 1998 Don Coleman
Web Site 1999 Don Coleman
Web site created by Don Coleman
3727 W. Magnolia Blvd. #240
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