The Oedipus Plays

by: Sophocles

Tiresias

Quotes Tiresias
Lords of Thebes, I and the boy have come together, hand in hand. Two sees with the eyes of one . . . so the blind must go, with a guide to lead the way.

These are the first lines the blind prophet Tiresias speaks on stage in Antigone, and they portend a truth that pervades the entire trilogy: Oftentimes, the blind have sight and the sighted are blind. In both Antigone and Oedipus the King, Tiresias plays the role of truth-speaker and prophet. At first, he is not believed, but his words come true in the end.

Oh god, is there a man alive who knows, who actually believes . . . just how much a sense of judgment, wisdom is the greatest gift we have?

Tiresias is speaking with Creon early in Antigone. At one point in their conversation, the two men begin to argue. Creon does not believe Tiresias’s prophesies and advice, and calls him a fortune teller who is “mad for money.” Tiresias does not trust Creon’s judgment, seeing him for what he is, a stubborn fool whose lack of judgment will bring down his entire family.

Just send me home. You bear your burdens, I’ll bear mine. It’s better that way, please believe me.

Tiresias the soothsayer is reluctant to tell the truth. Early in Oedipus the King, Tiresias is summoned by Oedipus to reveal what he knows about Oedipus’s past. Knowing that the truth will bring Oedipus great pain and suffering, Tiresias doesn’t reveal what he knows but speaks these lines to Oedipus instead. Although he is blind, Tiresias is the wisest of all of the characters in all three plays. He understands that sometimes the truth is too painful to bear.