Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica/The Melampodia

New Haven: Harvard University Press, pages 267–271



It is said that Calchas the seer returned from Troy with Amphilochus the son of Amphiaraus and came on foot to this place.[1] But happening to find near Clarus a seer greater than himself, Mopsus, the son of Manto, Teiresias' daughter, he died of vexation, Hesiod, indeed, works up the story in some such form as this: Calchas set Mopsus the following problem:

"I am filled with wonder at the quantity of figs this wild fig-tree bears though it is so small. Can you tell their number?"

And Mopsus answered: "Ten thousand is their number, and their measure is a bushel: one fig is left over, which you would not be able to put into the measure."

So said he; and they found the reckoning of the measure true. Then did the end of death shroud Calchas.


But now he is speaking of Teiresias, since it is said that he lived seven generations — though others say nine. He lived from the times of Cadmus down to those of Eteocles and Polyneices, as the author of Melampodia also says: for he introduces Teiresias speaking thus:

"Father Zeus, would that you had given me a shorter span of life to be mine and wisdom of heart like that of mortal men! But now you have honoured me not even a little, though you ordained me to have a long span of life, and to live through seven generations of mortal kind."


They say that Teiresias saw two snakes mating on Cithaeron and that, when he killed the female, he was changed into a woman, and again, when he killed the male, took again his own nature. This same Teiresias was chosen by Zeus and Hera to decide the question whether the male or the female has most pleasure in intercourse. And he said:

Of ten parts a man enjoys one only; but a woman's sense enjoys all ten in full."

For this Hera was angry and blinded him, but Zeus gave him the seer's power.


"For pleasant it is at a feast and rich banquet to tell delightful tales, when men have had enough of feasting; and pleasant also it is to know a clear token of ill or good amid all the signs that the deathless ones have given to mortal men."


"And Mares, swift messenger, came to him through the house and brought a silver goblet which he had filled, and gave it to the lord."


"And then Mantes took in his hands the ox's halter and Iphiclus lashed him upon the back. And behind him, with a cup in one hand and a raised sceptre in the other, walked Phylacus and spake amongst the bondmen."


Hesiod in the third book of the Melampodia called Chalcis in Euboea "the land of fair women."


But Hesiod says that Amphilochus was killed by Apollo at Soli.


"And now there is no seer among mortal men such as would know the mind of Zeus who holds the aegis."

  1. sc. Colophon. Proclus in his abstract of the Returns (sc. of the heroes from Troy) says Calchas and his party were present at the death of Teiresias at Colophon, perhaps indicating another version of this story.
  2. ll. 1-2 are quoted by Athenaeus ii. p. 40; ll. 3-4 by Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis vi. 2. 26. Buttmann saw that the two fragments should be joined.