13. Tiresias lives as man, woman, and man

Once upon a time, Tiresias, son of Everes, was wandering in a green wood during autumn time, when he came across two serpents, who were coupling. With his staff, he sharply struck the entwined snakes, who separated away and fled. At that very instant, the gender of Tiresias changed and from a man, he became a woman.

Tiresias pondered that his gender had changed, because he struck at the coupling serpents. He thought that if he struck again at a pair of coupling serpents, then his gender would change again. In the hope of finding such a pair of serpents, Tiresias, while living as a woman, roamed the green wood, every day of every autumn. Seven autumns passed and when the eighth autumn came, he again saw a pair of coupling snakes. Tiresias flung his staff at the entwined snakes, who broke away and instantly, his gender changed. Tiresias, once more, became a man.

During this time, Jove and Juno were at a dispute, regarding who derived more pleasure from an act of love. Jove said that from an act of love, a woman derived more pleasure than a man, and Juno opined the opposite. To settle the dispute, they appointed Tiresias as a judge, since he had experienced living as a man and a woman.

Tiresias judged in Jove’s favor, saying that from an act of love, the pleasure that a woman gains, is far greater than the pleasure that a man gains. Juno thought Tiresias was blind to an act of love and in anger, decreed that eternal darkness shall engulf the eyes of Tiresias. Juno’s decree took immediate effect and Tiresias became blind.

Jove did not restore the sight of Tiresias, since immortal deities do not revoke the deeds and decrees of other gods. However, to recompense Tiresias’ blindness, Jove endowed Tiresias with a lifespan of seven lives, the gift of prophecy and more wisdom than other mortals.

Finally, Tiresias after living as a man, woman, and again a man, became a renowned blind soothsayer.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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