from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book 3



While these events according to the laws
of destiny occurred, and while the child,
the twice-born Bacchus, in his cradle lay,
'Tis told that Jupiter, a careless hour,
indulged too freely in the nectar cup;
and having laid aside all weighty cares,
jested with Juno as she idled by.

Freely the god began; “Who doubts the truth?
The female's pleasure is a great delight,
much greater than the pleasure of a male.”

Juno denied it; wherefore 'twas agreed
to ask Tiresias to declare the truth,
than whom none knew both male and female joys:
for wandering in a green wood he had seen
two serpents coupling; and he took his staff
and sharply struck them, till they broke and fled.
'Tis marvelous, that instant he became
a woman from a man, and so remained
while seven autumns passed.
When eight were told,
again he saw them in their former plight,
and thus he spoke; “Since such a power was wrought,
by one stroke of a staff my sex was changed--
again I strike!” And even as he struck
the same two snakes, his former sex returned;
his manhood was restored.--

as both agreed
to choose him umpire of the sportive strife,
he gave decision in support of Jove;
from this the disappointment Juno felt
surpassed all reason, and enraged, decreed
eternal night should seal Tiresias' eyes.--
immortal Deities may never turn
decrees and deeds of other Gods to naught,
but Jove, to recompense his loss of sight,
endowed him with the gift of prophecy.

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