„What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem.“ Die Figur des blinden Sehers von Ovids Metamorphosen bis zu Dürrenmatts Das Sterben der Pythia

Tanja Nusser


With the different myths of Teiresias—in the versions of Ovid and Kallimachos— a figure entered the cultural stage of Western societies that to this day stands for two topoi: 1) the blind seer who speaks the truth and 2) truth-telling that is irrevocably connected to sexuality. These two topoi, however, are seldom brought together in either literary texts or literature studies. This article takes a closer look at the connection between sexuality and blind insights or truthspeaking in variations of this mythical figure in three chronological steps: antiquity, modernity, and postmodernity. Beginning with the myth as it was established by Kallimachos and Ovid and then analyzing Sophocles’ Oidipous Tyrannos as well as his Antigone, the article moves on to late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century versions with Michael Field’s LII [Tiresias: but that I know by experience] and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land to end with Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s Das Sterben der Pythia. (TN; in German)

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