Tiresias, the myth of the blind seer

Tiresias is a seer from Greek mythology ... in full contrast to his physical blindness. He has inspired many other myths, such as that of Narcissus, and today we will focus on his figure.

the death of a parent

Tiresias, the myth of the blind seer

The myth of Tiresias is extremely interesting for its approach to sexuality . Although focused on clairvoyance, her story also speaks of transsexualism, female pleasure, vouyerism, and is also linked to the famous Oedipus complex.

Tiresias was the most important seer of Greek mythology. It appears in countless episodes, different works, written by various authors. His figure has also been used in later works, some of which are contemporary.

The most obvious feature of Tiresia it is probably his condition of blindness. He could see the future , but he was physically blind. It was precisely in this way that the Greeks shaped the ultimate meaning of the tragedy: paradoxical situations, with no way out, in which a gift always implied punishment, and vice versa.

'My clairvoyance becomes ignorance during wakefulness.'

-Julio Cortazar-

Greek temple

The origin of Tiresia

The myth of the origin of Tiresias is one of those with multiple versions available: it is likely that there are more than 15 different ones. Here we will focus on two of the best known.

Both agree that the seer was the son of the nymph Cariclo and Evereo . The two versions differ as to why he became blind and, at the same time, a seer.

50-year crisis in women

One version claims that Charyclo, mother of Tiresias, was one of the friends intimate of Athena, goddess of wisdom. The two used to bathe naked in a spring near Mount Elicona. One day Tiresias went hunting in the forest and unwittingly saw the two naked women.

Athena got angry and immediately punished him, depriving him of sight. Cariclo defended his son by stating that he had simply seen what appeared before his eyes , with no bad intentions.

However, no mortal could see a naked deity, which is why Athena did not restore his sight, but in return granted him the gift of clairvoyance. He assured him that he would not lose him even in death.

The transsexuality of Tiresias

The second version of the myth tells that while Tiresias was walking among the fields he saw two snakes that mated. He then tried to separate them by hitting them hard, to the point of killing the female. Due to this, Tiresias became a woman.

the day of my death

Seven years later a similar thing happened. He again surprised two snakes engaged in mating and hit them with a stick, but this time he killed the male. Following this, he became a man again. After such incidents, Zeus and his wife, Era, began a heated discussion about who felt more sexual pleasure: men or women.

Since Tiresias possessed both sexes, the gods consulted him, so that he would contribute his direct experience to the solution of the contrast . Tiresias answered their question by saying the woman felt more pleasure .

The answer infuriated Hera, who felt embarrassed and humiliated in front of her husband. Then he punished the mortal by removing his sight, but Zeus, in return, granted him the gift of divination.


Some legends of the soothsayer

Tiresias was the protagonist of some of the most important stories of Greek mythology. It was he who foretold an ominous future for Daffodil . When the latter's mother asked him about her son's fate, the soothsayer predicted that he would live a long time, as long as he did not look at his own reflection.

The seer also appears in the tragedy of King Oedipus. He decides to consult it following a plague that hit Thebes. The king questioned the Oracle of Delphi who replied that the male it was due to the dishonor caused by the murder of the previous king, Laius. And that if the crime had not been purified, the plague would not have ceased.

Oedipus did not know that it was he, in the first person, who would kill Laius, who was in reality his father; nor that he would marry his mother. That is why he then asked Tiresias to reveal the name of the murderer to him. He initially did not want to cooperate, but eventually succumbed to the torture he was subjected to . He revealed, therefore, that the killer was Oedipus himself. But the king did not believe him and drove him out of the palace; later, he understood everything and poked out his eyes.

The myth of Cupid and Psyche

The myth of Cupid and Psyche

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