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Why did Odysseus seek Teiresias?

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In the Odyssey, Odysseus follows Circe’s advice to seek out Teiresias. He travels to Hades to speak with the prophet’s ghost and learn how he can return home. What does Teiresias tell Odysseus once he arrives? The blind seer warns the hero about the perils he will have to avoid.

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The Odyssey follows the adventures of Odysseus and his men as they seek a way to return home. They stop at the island of Aeaea, ruled over by Circe. The enchantress falls in love with Odysseus and invites him to stay with her. When Odysseus decides to resume his search, Circe advises his crew to travel to Hades. There, they would find out the future, as predicted by Teiresias: who will cause Odysseus trouble and why.

Teiresias (also known as Tiresias) is a blind prophet who appears in many ancient Greek works. In the Odyssey, he is dead but remains more aware than most other shades in Hades. He also retains his prophetic gift, allowing him to tell Odysseus how to avoid the gods’ wrath. He will have to appease Poseidon before coming back to Ithaca. If his men avoid killing the Cattle of Helios, they will return home with him.

The role of Tiresias in the Odyssey is easy to misunderstand from the modern viewpoint. As a seer, he is not supposed to provide travel directions. His purpose is to inform the hero of his destiny and the right course of action. While Circe eventually tells Odysseus where to go, Teiresias must say to him what to do once he gets there. That is why Odysseus has to seek out his shade before he can return home.

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