Teiresias

The Blind Prophet

Who is Teiresias?

Teiresias was a Greek hero, although not commonly known. He was most famous for being an old blind prophet who could see the future like no one else. (Hamilton, "The Two Great Gods on Earth") He propheted the will of many Gods and heros and majorly impacted several epics by seeing the future. Those who didn't listen to his prophecies suffered. (Encyclopaedia Britannica) He was the son of Everes and nymph Chariclo.

How He Became Blind and a Prophet

There are a few theories of how Teiresias became blind and a prophet. One says that Athena blinded him because he saw her naked. After that his mother asked Athena to undo the blindness, but she couldn't. Instead she gave him the gift of prophecy. (Encyclopedia Mythica) Another says that blindness was a punishment from the gods because Teiresias learned the secrets of the gods from his mother and told the secrets. (Encyclopaedia Britannica) The final theory states Hera and Zeus, husband and wife, were arguing about who enjoys more pleasure in love, men or women. They asked Teiresias since he had been a man and a woman. Teiresias agreed with Zeus, women felt more pleasure. Hera angrily blinded Teiresias. (Encyclopaedia Britannica) After this, Zeus thought if Teiresias couldn't see the future he should be able to see the future. (Hollingsworth, "Divine Punishment") Or, Zeus just gifted him prophecy as compensation. (Encyclopedia Mythica)

A Man and a Woman

Teiresias was a man and once a woman. The figure of Teiresias's transsexuality is seen even later than Greek days in European literature. Story has it that Teiresias was walking through the woods one day when he saw a pair of coupling snakes. He killed the female snake of the pair. Hera, a powerful goddess, was upset by this and turned him into a woman. A while later, Teiresias saw a pair of coupling snakes again and killed the make one this time. By this, he was turned back into a man. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

In "The Odyssey"

Teiresias died by drinking from the spring Tilphussa. (Encyclopedia Mythica) Unusually, Teiresias could still use his power of prophecy after his death, in the Underworld. That was where Odysseus consulted with the ghost of Teiresias. Teiresias gave good advice and helped Odysseus by seeing the future. (Hamilton, "The Adventures of Odysseus")

Works Cited



The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Tiresias (Greek Mythology)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 30 Mar. 2009. Web. 07 Nov. 2014.


Hamilton, Edith. "Chapter 2: The Two Great Gods of Earth; Chapter 3: The Adventures of Odysseus" Mythology. Boston: Little, Brown, 1942. N. pag. Print.


Hollingsworth, Anthony. "Divine Punishment." Calliope 24.9 (2014): 20-23. Ebsco Host. Web. 8 Nov. 2014. <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=0bc55b17-a133-496c-b1f7-4958a6a22480%40sessionmgr198&vid=23&hid=128&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d>.


Hunter, James. "Tiresias." Tiresias. Online Encyclopedia Mythica, 3 Mar. 1997. Web. 08 Nov. 2014.