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TEIRESIAS
Form: Lat. Tiresias.
The famous blind soothsayer of Thebes, son of Eueres and Chariclo, and a descendant of the Spartan Udaeus. The cause of his blindness has been variously stated. According to one tradition, the gods took his sight away when he was seven years old, because he revealed to men things which they ought not to have known. According to another, he became blind when, on his seeing Athene in the bath, she splashed water into his eyes. When invoked by his mother, the goddess could not restore his sight, but endued him with a knowledge of the language of birds, and presented him with a staff, by means of which he could walk like a man with perfect vision. According to a third account, he was blinded by Hera, because in a dispute between her and Zeus he decided against her, and Zeus compensated him by granting him the gift of prophecy and a life seven (or nine) times as long as that of other men. He is also said to have been changed into a woman for a short time. He plays an important part in the story of (Edipus and the wars against Thebes. In the wars of the Seven against Thebes he declared that the Thebans would be victorious if Creon's son Menoeceus were to sacrifice himself. In the war of the Epigoni he advised the Thebans to enter into negotiations for peace, and to avail themselves of the opportunity thus afforded to take to flight. During the flight, or else at the conquest of Thebes by the Epigoni, he was made a prisoner, and with his daughter Manto (q.v.), who also possessed the gift of prophecy, was consecrated to the service of the Delphian Apollo. He died at the well Tilphossa, near Haliartus, where his grave was pointed out, while he was also honoured by a cenotaph in Thebes. Homer [Od. xi 90-151] represents him as carrying his golden staff as soothsayer even in the world below, when Odysseus consults him as to his way home; and of all the shades, he alone, by favour of Persephone, possesses unimpaired memory and intellect [Od. x 495]. He had an oracle at Orchomenus in Boeotia, which is said to have ceased to give responses after a plague.
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