Ouroboros is a snake-like animal that, contorted in a circle, devours its own tail. This ancient symbol tells us about the circularity of time. The idea of eternal return has existed in various forms since antiquity. Put simply, it’s the theory that existence recurs in an infinite cycle as energy and matter transform over time. In ancient Greece, the Stoics believed that the universe went through repeating stages of transformation similar to those found in the “wheel of time” of Hinduism and Buddhism. One of Nietzsche’s most famous ideas is also that of eternal recurrence, which appears in his book The Gay Science, Aphorism 341:
“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!’
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity. In short, The Eternal Return of Sisyphus.