Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

Start Free Trial

What difficulty does Tiresias predict for Odysseus's journey in The Odyssey?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Book 11 of The Odyssey, Tiresias tells Odysseus in the Kingdom of the Dead that Odysseus will have a difficult trip home. Tiresias, the prophet, says, "a god will make it hard for you--I know--/you will never escape the one who shakes the earth" (lines 113-114; Fagels translation). Tiresias knows that Poseidon, the god of the sea who makes the earth quake, will make Odysseus's trip home difficult because Odysseus blinded the Cyclops, who is Poseidon's son. 

Tiresias says that Odysseus and his crew might still reach home safely if they leave the cattle belonging to Helios alone on Thrinacia Island. However, if Odysseus and his men hurt or take these cattle, Tiresias predicts that Odysseus's men and ship will be destroyed. Tiresias says, "And even if you escape, you'll come home late/and come a broken man" (lines 128-129). Tiresias says that when Odysseus comes home after a long and arduous journey, he'll find "crude, arrogant men" (line 133) eating all his food and wooing his wife. Once Odysseus slays these suitors, he will have to travel to a land where no one knows about the sea and make sacrifices to Poseidon. Only then will Odysseus be able to die in peace. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team