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The Odyssey Teiresias Quotes

Teiresias > Odysseus

Quote 1

(Teiresias, in Odysseus's tale:) '"Glorious Odysseus, what you are after is sweet homecoming, but the god will make it hard for you. I think you will not escape Shaker of the Earth, who holds a grudge against you in his heart, and because you blinded his dear son, hates you. But even so and still you might come back, after much suffering, if you can contain your own desire, and contain your companions'[…]."' (11.100-105)

Teiresias is supposed to be a prophet, but check out how he uses words like "think" and "might." It doesn't sound like he's really standing behind his reading of the future.


Quote 2

(Teiresias, in Odysseus’s tale:) ‘“But after you have killed these suitors in your palace, either by treachery, or openly with the sharp bronze, then you must take up your well-shaped oar and go on a journey until you come where there are men living who know nothing of the sea, and who eat food that is not mixed with salt, who never have known ships whose cheeks are painted purple, who never have known-well-shaped oars, which act for ships as wings do. And I will tell you a very clear proof, and you cannot miss it. When, as you walk, some other wayfarer happens to meet you, and says you carry a winnow-fan on your bright shoulder, then you must plant your well-shaped oar in the ground, and render ceremonious sacrifice to the lord Poseidon, one ram and one bull, and a mounter of sows, a boar pig, and make your way home again and render holy hecatombs to the immortal gods who hold the wide heaven, all of them in order. Death will come to you from the sea, in some altogether unwarlike way, and it will end you in the ebbing time of a sleek old age. Your people about you will be prosperous. All this is true that I tell you.”’ (11.119-137)

Here, Teiresias tells Odysseus about his ultimate fate – which will happen after the end of the Odyssey. How does this knowledge of Odysseus’s eventual death affect the mood at the end of the poem?