Circe

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Odysseus chasing Circe, painting on a Ancient Greek bowl
"The Magician Circe", by Giovanni Domenico Cerrini. a 17th century Italian painter

In Greek mythology, Circe (/ˈsɜrs/; Greek Κίρκη Kírkē "falcon") is a minor goddess of magic. Sometimes, she is described as a nymph, witch, enchantress or sorceress. In the Odyssey Homer describes her as 'The loveliest of all immortals,' living on the island of Aeaea, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus.

In most descriptions, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid, and the sister of Aeetes, the keeper of the Golden Fleece, Perses, and Pasiphaë, the Wife of King Minos and mother of the Minotaur.[1] Other accounts make her the daughter of Hecate.[2]

Circe transformed her enemies, or those who offended her, into animals through the use of magical potions. She was known for her knowledge of drugs and herbs.

That Circe also purified the Argonauts for the death of Apsyrtus, as told in Argonautica,[3] may be an early tradition.[4]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Homer, Odyssey 10.135; Hesiod, Theogony, 956; Apollodorus, Library 1.9.1; Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica .
  2. Grimal; Smith
  3. "They escaped neither the vast sea's hardships nor vexatious tempests till Kirké should wash them clean of the pitiless murder of Apsyrtos" (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, iv.586-88, in Peter Grean's translation).
  4. See the ancient concept of miasma, a Peter Green's commentary on iv. 705-17, The Argonautika Apollonios Rhodios, (1997, 2007) p 322.