In Oedipus Rex, define the role of Teiresias and say why prophets are often blind?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that there is a symbolic reasoning behind the blind prophet.  The idea of a "prophet" is someone who has vision, who can see, and in making the prophet blind, there is a certain level of symbolism and irony that the blind person can see.  Our own conception of this might be spiritual, arising from The Bible.   One of Jesus' miracles was being able to allow the blind to see.  When singing "Amazing Grace," recall the line,  "Was blind, but now, I see."  When we understand this, we see that those who have no sight were able to "see" better than the ones who sent him to his crucifixion.  The ability to "see" is something that operates on both literal and symbolic levels and poets/ thinkers play around with this image to help bring out their contention that sight and the ability to see might be two different things.  In Sophocles' play, Tiresias sees more even though he cannot see.  He is the figure who is able to tell Oedipus what will happen.  He sees it, even though he is blind.  Oedipus has sight, but he does not see.  Yet, at the play's  end, Oedipus learns "how to see" even though he has blinded himself.  The statement being made here is that sight and vision might be two separate realities, where one needs to evolve to the other.