Classical Myths about Circe

Hesiod's Theogony

As a small part of the larger creation myth, Hesiod explains Circe's lineage. She is the daughter of Helios and Perseis. Hesiod also mentions that she will come to love Odysseus and bear two children from him, Agrios and Latinos.

Homer's Odyssey, X: 149-597

Homer's version of Odyseus' trip to Circe's island is the most famous. Odysseus arrives on the island, and Circe immediately lures his crew to her lair with singing, and turns them into swine. One of the crew, Eurylochus, escapes and warns Odysseus, who gets at protective potion from Hermes before rescuing his crew. When her spell fails, Odysseus threatens her life with his sword, and Circe agrees to free his crew if he'll have sex with her. Circe administers a drug which makes the crew human, younger, taller, and more handsome. Circe tells Odysseus that he has to travel through Hades, and he leaves.

Apollodorus, Library and Epitome E.7.14-17

Appolodorus gives another version of The Odyssey in his larger work. Odysseus reaches Circe's island, and Circe quickly tricks his crew and turns them into swine. Odyseus, with help from Hermes, forces Circe to return his crew to normal, and agrees to "share her bed." Circe bears as son Telegonus, which differs from Homer's version. She then advises Odyssues to seek out the soothsayer Tiresias.

Ovid's Metamorphosis, XIV: 10-77, 246-436

Glaucus travels to Circe's island sad because Scylla doesn't love him. Circe attempts to seduce Glaucus, but he refuses. Circe is angered and curses Scylla with the legs of a dog, so she would always be hounded by dogs. Glaucus then runs from Circe, and later, out of anger at Circe, Scylla robs Ulysses of his comrades. Scylla is eventually turned into a reef.

Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica ll. 557-591

Enraged that the Argonauts murdered Apsyrtus, Zeus and the gods determine that they will be condemned to the endless sea unless they can get Circe to purify them of the "terrible stain of blood."


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