What does Odysseus learn about his future from Teiresias in the Land of the Dead?
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In Book 12 Teiresias warns Odysseus that he will never escape "the one who shakes the earth" (Poseidon) because he blinded Polyphemus; therefore, his journey home will continue to be a difficult one. When he arrives at the island of Thrinacia, Odysseus must leave the Sun-God's sacred cattle unharmed; however, the seer predicts that his ship and all of his men will be destroyed after his men eat the cattle. If Odysseus manages to escape, he will "come home late, a broken man...and find a world of pain at home." There he must retaliate against the suitors plaguing his wife and make them "pay in blood." After peace is restored, Odysseus must take an oar and travel so far inland that someone calls it a "winnowing fan" (a farm implement). There he must plant the oar and sacrifice beasts to Poseidon. Finally, Teiresias predicts "a gentle, painless death far from the sea... in ripe old age."
Robert Fagles' translation of The Odyssey. New York: Penguin, 1996.
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