Carrol writes:
C> In the present instance, despite the highly sexualized context,
C> I would think that it is the prophetic power of
C> Tiresias, NOT his sexual history, that is most relevant.
If the relevant thing about Tiresias is his prophetic power, and not his unusual sexual story, then why does TSE _TWICE_ call the readers attention to it ("man with wrinkled female breasts" and "man with wrinkled dugs"). Isn't that a peculiar overemphasis on something that is not intended to be the main focus for the reader? 

Also, at the risk of repeating myself, note that the mythical Tiresias was _not_ a "man with female breasts." He was first a man, then a woman, then a man again. At no time was he a man with some female physical characteristics. 

The Tiresias in the poem is serving a different purpose that needs to be understood.
-- Tom -- 

> Date: Fri, 4 Oct 2013 09:47:49 -0500
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Tiresias
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Nancy writes: "I think, however, that Eliot was never constrained by the
> specific use of a character in a source: the Tiresias in Sophocles may not
> determine that in Eliot. The former was not--in any of the versions I
> know--defined by physical traits except blindness. Are there any?"
> Some scattered observations:
> This is correct. A point I had in mind in my original post on this is that,
> characteristically (if I'm not mistaken) Eliot's allusions are narrowly
> focused: the main problem of the reader is avoiding taking into account _too
> much_ of the original, of selecting _just_ those elements that are relevant
> to the general thrust of the poem. In the present instance, despite the
> highly sexualized context, I would think that it is the prophetic power of
> Tiresias, NOT his sexual history, that is most relevant.
> TWL is a poem of failed or missed or lost or destroyed or poisonous
> connections, of isolation, of _idiotes_ (sp?) in the Greek sense of that
> word; of painful privacy & incapacity to break out of that privacy. I think
> Tom's focus on rape is misleading here. There is one rape (by the barbarous
> king), and _that_ story (I assume the OVidian context is the relevant one)
> exhibits central human relations being violated: husband/wife, mother/son,
> host/guest. Rape is a violation of human unity, but NOT the only violation,
> and to find rape all over the place impoverishes the poem.
> Now, I think that even writers who were themselves homosexual (or at least
> homoerotic) have _used_ homosexual imagery to suggest sterility or other
> failed human relations. (The Beast in the Jungle may be an instance.) The
> Eugenides episode is definitely _not_ a rape; it is a failed seduction, a
> failure to form even the superficial relationship of a one-night stand. And
> to see the typist as a rape victim empties the episode of meaning: the key
> term is INDIFFERENCE. No rape victim could be hardly aware of her departed
> violater.
> Carrol