According to Aeschylus’ fragmentary Psychagogoi, Teiresias prophesied to Odysseus that his death would come from the sea in an avarian fecal format:
<ΤΕΙΡΕΣ.> ‘ἐρρω<ι>διὸς γὰρ ὑψόθεν ποτώμενος
ὄνθω<ι> σε πλήξε<ι>, νηδύιος χειλώμασιν.
ἐκ τοῦ δ’ ἄκανθα ποντίου βοσκήματος
σήψει παλαιὸν δέρμα καὶ τριχορρυές’.
“As a heron flies on high, he will strike you with shit from his stomach’s end.
And the thorns from that watery food will rot your old and balding skin.”
This may correspond to the Odyssey‘s cryptic note that “death will come from the sea”. For a great discussion, see Timothy Gantz. Early Greek Myth. 1993. 711-712.
(If only there were a vase painting.)
10 thoughts on “The Death of Odysseus by Feces: Aeschylus, fragment (275 R; 478a1-5)”
What a shitty way to go!
Did the ancient Greeks have any particular belief about the import of being hit by bird crap? (Such as considering it to be auspicious, etc)
Not sure, but a good question. I know that there are cultures where it is good luck and those where it is bad.
And, thanks for the wordplay!
I’m in Thailand where, I’ve been told, it’s considered good luck: If you’ve been hit by a bird, you should buy a lottery ticket.
I must say given the choice I’d rather be taken out when a gull mistakes my bald head for a rock and drops his prey on it.
But what if the death is a slow, painful wasting disease?
I assume that when a gull drops a turtle on my head I’m not talking about a slow, painful wasting disease.