Oedipus Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein 3 - Tiresius: The Syzygy  I believe Tiresius is used in this play because he is a blind seer; without eyes, one often sees more than with eyes. Also, Tiresius has the following interesting history: One day while walking in the sacred wood of Artemis (Diana), Tiresius came upon two snakes copulating, and shazaam! He was immediately turned into a woman. He wandered off, slightly dazed by this turn of events, and went about his business until one day he again wandered into the same wood, where he came upon the same two snakes, still in the same activity, and poof! He was turned back into a man. (Uh-oh, those snakes again!) Later on Mount Olympus, Zeus and Hera got into an argument about which gender enjoyed the act of love the most; Zeus insisted it was the female of the species, while Hera insisted it was the male. Because they couldn’t agree, they finally sent for Tiresius, figuring he’d know because he’d been both. Tiresius said it was the female of the species, and Hera, enraged at being proved wrong, immediately struck the poor man blind. Zeus couldn’t call back Hera’s punishment, but he decided the very least he could do was to give Tiresius second sight. And so Tiresius wanders the land, seeing the truth, but not generally being believed for what he tells. He is certainly a significant figure in Oedipus Rex because of his counterpoint as a blind seer to Oedipus’s figurative blindness. We meet Tiresius again in Virgil’s Aenead. He even wandered into the 20th century and found his way to T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily