Albert Camus imagined Sisyphus as happy, pushing his boulder up the hill. This “hero” accepts his fate and is devoid of hope. The perfect absurdist hero.
What a hopeful chap that Camus; but such hope, he fails his own test. Camus can go no further, yet Sisyphus persists.
Do not ask if he is happy (surely he is not). Instead ask, does he accept his fate?
He ought to throw up his hands and beg for forgiveness. Yet he persists. Why?
His actions speak for themselves. What do the actions of Sisyphus indicate about his beliefs? What do your actions say about your beliefs? What do you believe, really?
For all our talk, we sure do act as if we believe.
Evidenced by his actions, there is only one belief Sisyphus holds. He fails — and he fails — and he fails, yet he tries again — and again — and again. It is as if the infinite power of the gods knocking his boulder down the hill has been matched by a stubborn refusal to give up. If the story is to be believed, Sisyphus once chained death and escaped the underworld. That is why the gods punish him.
Clearly something motivates him. He must believe that this impossible task is in fact doable. He once saw past the gods, and he rejected them. I imagine his mind is freed of ego, and yet he is not happy, far from it. His torment is real, painfully real. He persists despite liberation from the unnecessary suffering of false beliefs. The gods of these traditions punish him daily. And he pushes against them eternal.
He toils in a meaningless way. I do not see him as a hero, nor as happy. I do not believe his fault was for defying the gods.
No. Sisyphus once found a path out of hell. His fault is a lack of wit and ingenuity, a lack of wisdom and creativity, to truly surpass what can be surpassed.