What Does Teiresias Tell Odysseus?

Teiresias tells Odysseus about the rest of his journey home to Ithaca, the suitors and their defilement of Odysseus’ home, and how to placate the god Poseidon, who is still angry with the hero for blinding his son Polyphemus. He specifically warns Odysseus about certain perils, but he proclaims that Odysseus is fated to lose all his men who are doomed to be overtaken by greed.

Teiresias recognizes Odysseus and drinks from the blood offering. The Theban seer confirms that it is Poseidon who prevented Odysseus’ homecoming, stating that there is no escape for him from the sea god’s wrath. However, Teiresias offers some good news, which is that Odysseus’ return is ensured by the gods, but he is set to suffer greatly before and after his arrival. Teiresias warns the hero and his crew that they must deny their greed and hunger when they encounter the sacred cattle of Helios, the Sun god. However, he tells Odysseus that if any of his crew touch the cattle, their ship is sure to be destroyed, and all those who participate are certain to die.

Teiresias also predicts the manner of Odysseus’ homecoming as unlooked-for, alone, in distress and in another king’s ship. He tells the hero about the impertinent and disrespectful suitors abusing and exploiting his family. The prophet predicts a victorious routing of the suitors for Odysseus, but the hero must immediately take another ship out to sea, travelling to a land where men eat their food with no salt and know nothing of the sea. There, he must make appropriate sacrifices to Poseidon, seeking amends, and to all the other gods in their turn. Only then can Odysseus return to a life of peace at home, where he can live a peaceful life.