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Tiresias

Contributed by Mike McDermott

Tiresias is a figure out of Greek mythology, known both for his abilities as a prophet and for his unique dual-gendered experience.

As a youth Tiresias spotted the goddess Athena bathing in a pond, and she struck him blind to protect her modesty. His mother was a nymph and she begged Athena to restore his sight but she would not. Instead she cleared his ears to be capable of hearing “the whispers of the gods”, granting him the power of precognition. On another occasion the gods changed him into a woman, and now he is both. According to Hercules, the gods did this to grant Tiresias a “broader perception of the truths of the world”. Tiresias is also immortal, and has travelled the world, befriending artists and philosophers throughout history. As an immortal he has a tendency to lose track of the passage of time; most of his cultural references are out of date and he still affects a British accent he picked up during a period he spent there during the 1970s working in Peter Gabriel’s studio. Now he runs a shop for watch repairs in New York.

Hercules turned to Tiresias for guidance when dealing with the threat of the Uprising Storm, a group of gods for the modern era who were determined to exterminate all the old gods and creatures of myth and take their place. When Tiresias began using his visions to try and investigate the Uprising Storm, they attacked and tried to kill him but Tiresias survived. After being released from hospital, Tiresias helped Hercules gather a team of heroes from myth and legend to help him fight the Uprising Storm.

Although Tiresias technically made his first Marvel Comics appearance in a brief flashback in Incredible Hercules #126 by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente and Rodney Buchemi, his first proper appearance in the modern Marvel Universe was in Hercules #2 (2016) by Dan Abnett and Luke Ross. Art by Luke Ross, Emilio Laisao, and Guru EFX.

Note: Tiresias appears to be unique in that he was born a cisgendered male and transformed into a woman by the gods without consent, and according to Greek mythology was later transformed back into a male. Writer Dan Abnett used male pronouns to refer to Tiresias. Tiresias may be non binary or gender non conforming.

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