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Re: Basic intro

On Mon, 13 Aug 2001 17:50:54 -0700, glenn <glenn234@pacbell.net> wrote:

>intrigued by the name "Tiresias" from Genesis' "Cinema Show", sometime in
>high school(late 70's) i went to the library and started reading through
>Greek mythology and seem to remember that "Tiresias" was watching Athena
>bathe and got caught and blinded, but them she or someone felt sorry for 
>and gave him the ability to foretell the future by reading the flight of
>birds(which i was never clear on how he was able to do, not having sight 

There's a branching myth. Tiresias was a blind Theban soothsayer. He was
blinded for one of many possible reasons, the four most commonly
repeated of which I will cover here...

- Tiresias could see the future by reading the flight of birds, and
revealed secrets of the gods to mortal men. The gods punished him with
blindness, so he could no longer read the flight of birds, but he then
used other methods of foretelling the future.


- Tiresias saw Athena bathing, and she splashed water in his eyes and
blinded him. Athena's handmaiden pleaded for mercy, so Athena gave him
the power to see the future. 


- Tiresias saw Athena bathing, and a "law" created by Chronos caused him
to be blinded. Athena thought this was too harsh a punishment, but could
not undo it... so she gave him the power to see the future instead.


- Zeus and Hera were arguing about whether men or women enjoyed sex
more, and Tiresias was consulted. He reported that the woman has ten
times the pleasure of the man, so one of them blinded him for saying
this (accounts vary as to whether it was Zeus because he lost the
argument, or Hera because he had revealed the greatest secret of women)
and the other gave him the power to see the future. 

(Why was Tiresias consulted in this argument? Two other legends: when
Tiresias saw Athena bathing, she turned him into a woman for seven years
before her handmaiden convinced her to relent and turn him back into a
man; OR Tiresias saw two snakes copulating and hit the female with a
stick -- Athena was angered and turned him into a woman, and seven years
later Tiresias saw the same two snakes copulating and hit the male with
a stick, which for some strange reason struck Athena as fair so she
turned him back into a man.)

Tiresias also supposedly had the ability to understand the *speech* of
birds, a magical walking stick which allowed him to walk as well as a
sighted person (in some variants it's just a normal stick he uses, and
carries no magical properties), and the gift of a very long life (seven
or nine generations; accounts vary). Variants of the above myths
sometimes account for these by various means; the gist of it is that
Tiresias was blind, could see the future, lived as a woman for seven
years, understood the speech of birds, carried a walking stick which
some people believed was magical, and lived a very long life. All of
these (with the possible exception of the walking stick) were gifts or
punishments from the gods. 

It's a fascinating story, full of twists and turns and false starts and
confusion. Complex. Just like me. Or at least, I like to think so. :)