Detail of a miniature of a dragon appearing above the flames on an altar before Manto and her father Tiresias – blind seer - and Manto addressing Menoeceus, Creon, and Creon's wife, illustrating book 10, verses 589ff of Statius's Thebaid. . . . Written in Latin.

2 The Tenacious Grip of the Blind Seer (TPE Hyperlinked Endnotes)

Tiresias the blind prophet who makes an appearance on the stage and page of so many Greek tragedies and epics (for example, Oedipus, Antigone, The Odyssey) is perhaps the oldest and most famous of the blind seers. As Godin demonstrates in this chapter, his legacy endures and animates countless plots from the days of Homer and Sophocles to our own. One of the many mysteries of Oedipus is why he puts out his eyes instead of killing himself as his wife/mother Jocasta does, but if you realize that the blind seer always knows the truth, then you realize Oedipus was looking to put out his lying eyes.

Though many readers do not know or forget that the misery at the end of Oedipus the King is not the end of him, in this chapter we move past those terrible eye gouging moments to Oedipus at Colonus. In that last of Sophocles’ Theban plays, Oedipus (spoiler alert) becomes a kind of blind seer himself and exits this world into the beckoning arms of the gods. Also in this chapter you’ll find many examples of the blind seer in popular culture (Children of Dune, “The Langoliers,” etc.), as modern examples of the enduring blind seer trope.


Endnotes for Chapter 2: The Tenacious Grip of the Blind Seer

  1. Sophocles, Oedipus the King, The Three Theban Plays,
  2. Sophocles, Oedipus the King,
  3. Sophocles, Oedipus the King,
  4. Sophocles, Oedipus the King,
  5. Kleege, Sight Unseen, 47–48.
  6. Tiresias’s sexual and perceptual transformations are adapted from Charles Martin’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, 409–40.
  7. Daisy Johnson, Everything Under, Kindle 453.
  8. Sophocles, Antigone, The Three Theban Plays,
  9. Herbert, Children of Dune, 330–31.
  10. Herbert, Children of Dune,
  11. Sophocles, Oedipus the King,
  12. King, “The Langoliers,” Four Past Midnight,
  13. Sophocles, Oedipus the King,
  14. Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, The Three Theban Plays,
  15. “Now Let the Weeping Cease,” song lyrics from Gospel at Colonus.
  16. Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, from the introduction “Democritus Junior to the ”


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