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Metamorphoses: Book 3: Teiresias Summary & Analysis

One day, Jupiter and Queen Juno argue over whether men or women enjoy sex more. To settle their dispute, they decide to ask Teiresias, a man who had lived as both a male and a female. Once, Teiresias came upon two mating serpents and knocked them apart with his staff. He then suddenly transformed into a woman. Eight years later, he broke apart a second pair of mating serpents and was changed back. When Jupiter and Juno ask Teiresias whether men or women enjoy sex more, Teiresias says that women do. Resenting this verdict, Juno curses Teiresias with blindness. Jupiter, trying to make amends for this curse, gives him the gift of seeing the future.
Up until this point in the Metamorphoses, sex has been mostly destructive to women. Three women were raped by Jupiter, one was killed by sleeping with him, and Juno has been repeatedly cheated on. Following these stories, Teiresias’s response to Jupiter and Juno’s debate seems implausible. However, whether or not Teiresias’s verdict is true, Jupiter and Juno’s debate and the relationships thus far suggest that men and women generally do not understand what the other wants.
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