Niobe was the daughter of Tantalus, an evil character in Greek legend who sacrificed his son, chopped the son up, and served the child to the gods in a stew. For this, he was eternally punished in the realm of Hades. Niobe, like Antigone, thus inherits a family curse.
Niobe, mentioned in Homer and the subject of a lost play by Aeschylus, had seven male and seven female children. She boasted that this made her better than Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis, who only had two children. To avenge this insult, Artemis killed Niobe's female children and Apollo the male ones. Niobe's husband committed suicide.
Niobe was turned to stone and her eternal tears of sorrow formed a waterfall. She is used as an emblem of ultimate female sorrow.