Q.12. What do you know about Teiresias? What role does he play in the drama King Oedipus?

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Ans. In Greek mythology, there are many versions of the story of Teiresias. One version has it that Teiresias had seen two serpents in the act of coupling. When both attacked him, he struck at them with his staff, killing the female. He was immediately turned into a woman, and a celebrated harlot: But seven years later he happened to see the same sight at the same èpot. He killed the male serpent, and regained his manhood. Another version says Zeus and Hera had a dispute on the question who derives more pleasure from sexual act, male or female. Zeus said the female did, while Hera demanded that the male did. Teiresias was summoned to settle the dispute from his personal experience, and he supported Zeus. Hera was so exasperated that he blinded Teiresias, but Zeus compensated him with inward sight, and a life extended to seven generations.
Teiresias figures as a blind prophet in King Oedipus. Oedipus sends for the blind prophet Teiresias, to ascertain the truth about the polluter of Thebes who has brought the plague and untold sufferings of the people. Teiresias comes to the court of Oedipus, led by a boy, and canying a golden staff, which is the symbol of his power of prophecy. Oedipus greets him with great respect, and requests him to speak the truth and thereby to resêue the city from the curse. Teiresias knows the truth, and since the truth is too horrible for the king to know, he remains discreetly silent about the fact at first. Oedipus misinterprets this silence on his part, and suspects that he is in a heinous conspiracy with Creon against him (Oedipus), their object being to overthrow him. He is exasperated, and gives vent to his feelings, though he does not spell out his accusation of conspiracy:
Insolent scoundrel, you would rouse
A stone to fury! Will you never speak?
You are determined to be obstinate to the end?
Teiresias still keeps his, temper in control, and gives him an answer which, though cryptic and oblique, should be clear enough for an intelligent king like Oedipus. He says:
Do not blame me; put your own house in order.
Teiresias asserts, “I tell no more.” Now Oedipus loses control of his temper and openly accuses him of plotting against him (Oedipus):

 

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