Me. Whether you are blind or not, Tiresias, would be a difficult question. Eyeless sockets are the rule among us; there is no telling Phineus from Lynceus nowadays. However, I know that you were a seer, and that you enjoy the unique distinction of having been both man and woman; I have it from the poets. Pray tell me which you found the more pleasant life, the man's or the woman's?
Ti. The woman's, by a long way; it was much less trouble. Women have the mastery of men; and there is no fighting for them, no manning of walls, no squabbling in the assembly, no cross-examination in the law-courts.
Me. Well, but you have heard how Medea, in Euripides, compassionates her sex on their hard lot--on the intolerable pangs they endure in travail? And by the way--Medea's words remind me did you ever have a child, when you were a woman, or were you barren?
Ti. What do you mean by that question, Menippus?
Me. Oh, nothing; but I should like to know, if it is no trouble to you.
Ti. I was not barren: but I did not have a child, exactly.
Me. No; but you might have had. That's all I wanted to know.
Me. And your feminine characteristics gradually vanished, and you developed a beard, and became a man? Or did the change take place in a moment?
Ti. Whither does your question tend? One would think you doubted the fact.
Me. And what should I do but doubt such a story? Am I to take it in, like a nincompoop, without asking myself whether it is possible or not?
Ti. At that rate, I suppose you are equally incredulous when you hear of women being turned into birds or trees or beasts,--Aëdon for instance, or Daphne, or Callisto?
Me. If I fall in with any of these ladies, I will see what they have to say about it. But to return, friend, to your own case: were you a prophet even in the days of your femininity? or did manhood and prophecy come together?
Ti. Pooh, you know nothing of the matter. I once settled a dispute among the Gods, and was blinded by Hera for my pains; whereupon Zeus consoled me with the gift of prophecy.
Me. Ah, you love a lie still, Tiresias. But there, ’tis your trade. You prophets! There is no truth in you.