Notes: Circe


Circe was an enchantress living on the island of Aeaea during the time of the Greek myths. She was well known for changing her enemies, or those who pissed her off, into animals. She did this by using magical potions made using her knowledge of drugs and herbs and muttering weird incantations. In Homer’s Odyssey, she is described as living in a house in the woods surrounded by a guard of docile lions and wolves, former sailors changed by her magic. Circe invited Odysseus’ crew to feast with her. They ate a pottage of cheese and meal, sweetened with honey and wine (and unbeknownst to them magical drugs). To their surprise, after having finished eating, the crew discovered they were now pigs and would soon be fed to the lions and wolves. Eurylochus, who hadn’t eaten any of the witch’s food, snuck off to warn Odysseus. After hearing what had happened to his crew, Odysseus set off to save them. On his way through the woods to her house he was met by the god Hermes who advised him on how to deal with her. He said to first eat the herb moly to protect him from her potions and if he were inclined to bed with her that he should first have her swear by the names of all the gods that she would not take his manhood. Although the poem does not go into detail about this, it seems that Odysseus did just this. All of his men were freed. They then remained on the island for a full year feasting and drinking wine. Although it doesn’t say this I suspect they ate a lot of moly because they were never turned into pigs or lost their manhood ever again.


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