Tantalus was the son of Zeus and the nymph Plouto in Greek mythology, who was punished after death in Tartarus. With his wife, who may have been Dione, Taygete, Eurythemista, or Euryanassa, he fathered Pelops, Niobe and Broteas. Thus, through Pelops, he was the predecessor of the House of Atreides, as his grandson was Atreus, and his great-grandsons were Agamemnon and Menelaus.
According to the myth, Tantalus was welcomed in the table of the deities in Olympus; however, he stole ambrosia and nectar, thinking he could take it back to his people, in order to make them immortal and reveal the divine secrets. He later decided to sacrifice his son to his gods; so, he cut Pelops in pieces, and served him to the gods. The gods realised what happened and did not eat at all; only Demeter, who was upset by her daughter's abduction by Hades, took a bite of Pelops' shoulder. When it was revealed what had happened, Zeus told Clotho, one of the three Fates, to bring the boy back to life, and the missing part of his shoulder was replaced by an ivory piece forged by Hephaestus.
Tantalus was thrown out of Olympus and after he died he was punished for eternity; he was made to stand in a pool of water, right under the branches of a fruit tree. However, when he tried to reach for a fruit, the branches would go higher and out of reach, while when he tried to drink a sip of water, the waters of the pool would recede.