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TSE  October 2013

TSE October 2013

Subject:

Re: Tiresias

From:

"Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 3 Oct 2013 20:23:55 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (101 lines)

I'm going to reply to Carrol's original post in this thread but add things
brought up later.


On Wed, 2 Oct 2013 08:57:06 -0500, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> How much of the legend of Tiresias is incorporated in TWL? He/she got into
> trouble originally by striking two copulating snakes. But his/her real
> downfall occurred by resolving a debate between Zeus & Hera; he sided with
> Zeus, declaring that women had far more sexual pleasure than men. That seems
> not to fit the case of the typist. He 'sides' with Antigone against Creon in
> that play.
>
> The phrase "old man with wrinkled female dugs" seems discordant as well.
> The sex changes were arranged by deity after all, & should not have been
> ambiguous.

The mythic Tiresias is a complicated figure.  There are many contradictory
stories about him.  His blindness is described as being caused by a displeased
Hera or by a displeased Athena.  And his foresight given by Zeus or Athena. 
Even the way he gained his visions varied from augury (birds) to pyromancy
(smoke).  There are stories that when he was a woman he was a prostitute.

Despite Eliot's note's nod to Ovid's version of the blinding and gaining of
prophecy I prefer the Bath of Pallas version by Callimachus.  This is the
version used by Tennyson and Swinburne ("I, Tiresias the prophet, seeing in
Thebes ...").  See below for a few lines from each.  

As for Carrol's question "How much of the legend of Tiresias is incorporated
in TWL?"  There is an echo of Callimachus in Eliot's note:
   Cf. Day, Parliament of Bees:
   When of the sudden, listening, you shall hear,
   A noise of horns and hunting, which shall bring
   Actaeon to Diana in the spring,
   Where all shall see her naked skin...

And Carrol's comment "He 'sides' with Antigone against Creon in that play"
brings to my mind "The Burial of the Dead."


On Wed, 2 Oct 2013 20:50:48 -0400, tcolket <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> You may want to consider that the phrase "old man with wrinkled female
> breasts," that is, a male with some female attributes, could be a safe way,
> in 1922, of alluding to a male homosexual.


It's possible that the mentions of "wrinkled female breasts" and
"wrinkled dugs" is to reinforce the allusion that the two lives that
Tiresias is throbbing between is that between male and female.

With the use of the word "throbbing" I get the feeling that there are
more than two sex changes.  Anyone else come away with that?



On Wed, 2 Oct 2013 09:59:26 -0600, Richard Seddon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I don't know about you Carroll but when I look  at my 71 year old chest,
> which used to be hard and flat, I see what looks disturbing like sagging
> a cups were it not for the gray hair.

Rick, other than for your age, I think I've found a near perfect image of
a pair of wrinkled d*gs for you at http://tinyurl.com/nhtx62b


Regards,
    Rick Parker



Lines from Swinburne's "Tiresias":

   I, Tiresias the prophet, seeing in Thebes
   Much evil, and the misery of men's hands
   Who sow with fruitless wheat the stones and sands,
   With fruitful thorns the fallows and warm glebes,
   Bade their hands hold lest worse hap came to pass;
   But which of you had heed of Tiresias?

   ...

   "O child, thou hast seen indeed, poor child of mine,
   The breasts and flanks of Pallas bare in sight,
   But never shalt see more the dear sun's light;


Lines from Tennyson's "Tiresias":

   There in a secret olive-glade I saw
   Pallas Athene climbing from the bath
   In anger; yet one glittering foot disturb'd
   The lucid well; one snowy knee was prest
   Against the margin flowers; a dreadful light
   Came from her golden hair, her golden helm
   And all her golden armor on the grass,
   And from her virgin breast, and virgin eyes
   Remaining fixt on mine, till mine grew dark
   For ever, and I heard a voice that said
   "Henceforth be blind, for thou hast seen too much,
   And speak the truth that no man may believe."

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