The evidence for at least homoerotic feelings in Eliot's life is now so extensive and well documented that I cannot see why it is at all more unnecessary than the endless pursuit on this list to make him a sort of prophet/saint instead of a great poet who was far more complicated than either.
On the other hand, I do not claim to know what he ever did about it, and I don't think anyone so far has proven what, except his rage at Peters for suggesting it. Nor is it clear to me here that the hermaphroditism of Tiresias is about homosexuality (do we have any ancient texts about Tiresias having a love life as opposed to both forms of sexual experience?
My point is that Tom's concern is as valid as any and--in my view--an important issue because it would explain a lot of Eliot's behavior and attitudes in the poetry. But I am not taking any other position on it here, just pointing out that one of the reasons we continue to read Eliot is that we are sent to so many and such complex issues, and that the rich complexity of the poetry never lets us end up at some total answer.
>>> Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>10/02/13 10:08 PM >>>
Agreed. But, doesn't the relentless pursuit of homosexuality in the poem also contribute an unnecessary complication? My posts are in response to just that.
The fundamental difference is that most old men did not spend 7 years as a woman before being turned back into a man. That is why the Tiresias of Sophocles knows and has been both.
I think pointing to literal old men is the unnecessary complication here: it adds a generalized physiological trait--clearly not always true--to a character whose duality as male/female is what distinguishes him in all the stories about him. It is precisely this well-known fact about Tiresias that makes him significant.
Nancy >>> Richard Seddon <[log in to unmask]>10/02/13 9:18 PM >>>
Old men typically have sagging breasts.
My comment was intended to point that out.
I see this passage as merely a graphic depiction of an old man's chest.
Some can find a gay allusion in virtually any line of TWL. I think using this phrase in that manner stretches that sort of reasoning to an absurdity.
My question then is, why make this any more complicated than it already is. Tiresias was an old man whose chest sagged. He probably had bow legs, a bald head and arthritic fingers; poor eyesight and walked in a sort of shuffle.
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.
-------- Original message --------
From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]
Date: 10/02/2013 1:04 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Tiresias
In the Sophocles texts, he has become, again, a man who has been a woman. In Eliot he seems clearly to remain both. That is part, I think, of the way he responds to the coupling of the two. He is, ironically, both and neither in that text.
>>> Richard Seddon <[log in to unmask]
> 10/02/13 12:02 PM >>>
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.
And, I assure you I have not had a sex change nor even contemplated it.
Carroll wrote: " The phrase "old man with wrinkled female dugs" seems discordant as well"
Richard Seddon [log in to unmask]
On Oct 2, 2013, at 7:57 AM, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]
> 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