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The Transformations of Tiresias

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

A Story from Ancient Greece

One of the greatest Seers of the ancient times, Tiresias, became the apple of discord between a disagreement among the Olympian Gods, Zeus and Hera.

During a day, while going for the usual hunt through the hard to climb paths, a strange image captured his attention. Two snakes during their mating ritual, entangled in a very harmonious way with each other.

Tiresias, afraid of an incoming attack by the snakes, raised his wooden staff and bashed them with a fatal blow. Suddenly, as if by magic, Tiresias himself was transformed into a woman!

He remained like that for seven years as a punishment for his inappropriate behaviour towards nature’s creatures. Then he came across the same situation and not having learnt his lesson yet he did strike the snakes again. This time though he got transformed back into a man!

The experience of living as both sexes was something that Tiresias found very useful, especially when it was time to help Zeus and Hera with their dispute on “Who feels the most pleasure during sex, men or women?”.

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Zeus insisted that the biggest pleasure was that of the woman but Hera insisted that the one who gets the most pleasure out of this is the man. To resolve their disagreement they called Tiresias because they believed that due to his experience his opinion would carry significant weight on the matter since he had lived as both a man and a woman.

Tiresias said that if sexual pleasure can be split into ten parts, then nine out off the ten are pleasures that belong to the woman, and one of them belongs to the man. Hera was furious with his answer and in her anger blinded him forever.

Zeus though, that had the power to alter the actions of another god, in order to make up for the damage and thank him for his answer he told him that once he lost his ability to see the world with his mortal eyes, he would now be able to see the future through the eyes of his mind and hear the cosmos though the voices of the birds, and he also gave him the lifespan of seven generations.

And this is how Tiresias became a Seer, one of the greatest Seers the world had ever seen!

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