‘Tiresias’ Prophecy’ tells the tale of blind creation, an ancient oracle, an instant gender reassignment, a spat between gods, and a lesson all men should be sure to take heed of – the woman is always right.
Tiresias was a blind prophet and oracle and has a very interesting story of what it is like to be at the whim of the gods.
Our story starts with Tiresias on a mountain journey travelling through Mount Cyllene in the Peloponnese. He came upon a pair of mating snakes and hit them with his staff. Hera, was not impressed with this. Perhaps she had a special fondness for snakes since she sent two of them to kill Hercules in his crib.
Hera decided to express her displeasure by turning Tiresias into a woman. Our story could have ended here. Tiresias was quite good natured about their circumstances and soon settled down, married a man, had children and even became a priestess for Hera.
But the gods are a fickle lot. Tiresias would happen upon another pair of mating snakes seven years later and this time would leave them alone. As a result he was transformed back into a man. There is no record what his husband thought of this
These unique circumstances would place Tiresias in yet another predicament. At the time Tiresias was one of the few people who understood what it was like to live as both genders.
What he did not understand was to stay out of disagreements between two powerful and married gods. Sometime after his second gender change, Tiresias was drawn into an argument between Hera and Zeus.
For the godly couple it was a regular day on Olympus. They were arguing, as they often did, but at least it was not about one of Zeus’ numerous affairs or offspring from other mothers. This time the topic was who experienced more pleasure in sex – the man or the woman.
Of course Tiresias was uniquely positioned to render an opinion on this matter. Was it the man as Hera suggested, or the woman as Zeus asserted? Tiresias had an answer and it did not sit very well with Hera. His thought on this matter – ‘Of the ten parts (of sex), men enjoy but only one’.
Hera was less than impressed that he should take Zeus’ side in the argument, and given his history with Hera you think he would have known better than to take any other side than hers. Given his thoughts on the question at hand, maybe he was hoping Hera would turn him into a woman again.
His sexual enjoyment would remain a one out of ten. Hera would blind him and there was nothing Zeus could do to stop her. Zeus could however give him the gift of prophecy, and a much extended lifespan.
This pottery piece also has an interesting back story, though not quite as interesting is our protagonist Tiresias. This particular piece was thrown by me blindfolded.