The Odyssey

Tiresias' predictions, lines 631-671. Tiresias' instructions to Odysseus

Great captain,

a fair wind and the honey lights of home

are all you seek. But anguish lies ahead;

the god who thunders on the land prepares it,

635 not to be shaken from your track, implacable,

in rancor for the son whose eye you blinded.

One narrow strait may take you through his blows:

denial of yourself, restraint of shipmates.

When you make landfall on Thrinacia first

640 and quit the violet sea, dark on the land

you’ll find the grazing herds of Helios

by whom all things are seen, all speech is known.

Avoid those kine,60 hold fast to your intent,

and hard seafaring brings you all to Ithaca.

645 But if you raid the beeves, I see destruction

for ship and crew. Though you survive alone,

bereft of all companions, lost for years,

under strange sail shall you come home, to find

your own house filled with trouble: insolent men

650 eating your livestock as they court your lady.

Aye, you shall make those men atone in blood!

But after you have dealt out death—in open

combat or by stealth—to all the suitors,

go overland on foot, and take an oar,

655 until one day you come where men have lived

with meat unsalted, never known the sea,

nor seen seagoing ships, with crimson bows

and oars that fledge light hulls for dipping flight.

The spot will soon be plain to you, and I

660 can tell you how: some passerby will say,

“What winnowing fan is that upon your shoulder?”

Halt, and implant your smooth oar in the turf

and make fair sacrifice to Lord Poseidon:

a ram, a bull, a great buck boar; turn back,

665 and carry out pure hecatombs61 at home

to all wide heaven’s lords, the undying gods,

to each in order. Then a seaborne death

soft as this hand of mist will come upon you

when you are wearied out with rich old age,

670 your country folk in blessed peace around you.

And all this shall be just as I foretell.’

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Teiresias foretells the destruction of the sacred cattle on the island of the sun god, the destruction of Odysseus' crew, and the way in which Odysseus will come home alone. He also tells that Odysseus will have a fine old age.