Circe
Overview
 
In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Circe (icon; Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 Κίρκη Kírkē "falcon") is a minor goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 of magic (or sometimes a nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

, witch, enchantress
Enchantress
Enchantress may refer to:*Magician , a magician or spell-caster, sometimes called an enchantress or witch when female*Seduction, the enticement of one person by another, called a seductress or enchantress when it is a beautiful and charismatic woman-Literature:*"The Enchantress of Venus", a 1949...

 or sorceress), described in Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

as "The loveliest of all immortals", living on the island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 of Aeaea
Aeaea
Aeaea or Eëa was a mythological island said to be the home of the sorceress Circe. Odysseus tells Alcinous that he stayed here for a year on his way home to Ithaca....

, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

.

By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios
Helios
Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia or Euryphaessa and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn...

, the god of the sun, and Perse
Perse
Perse may refer to:* Perse, Persa or Perseis, an Oceanid, a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys in Greek mythology, wife of Helios* The Perse School, an independent co-educational school in Cambridge, England...

, an Oceanid
Oceanid
In Greek mythology and, later, Roman mythology, the Oceanids were the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each was the patroness of a particular spring, river, sea, lake, pond, pasture, flower or cloud...

 and the sister of Aeetes
Aeëtes
In Greek mythology, Aeëtes , , , was a King of Colchis , son of the sun-god Helios and the Oceanid Perseis , brother of Circe and Pasiphae, and father of Medea, Chalciope and Apsyrtus...

, the keeper of the Golden Fleece
Golden Fleece
In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-haired winged ram, which can be procured in Colchis. It figures in the tale of Jason and his band of Argonauts, who set out on a quest by order of King Pelias for the fleece in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus...

, Perses
Perses (brother of Aeetes)
In Greek mythology, Perses was the brother of Aeetes . He usurped the throne of Colchis from his brother, but was subsequently slain by Medea, his niece. He is not to be confused with the Titan known as Perses, who is known for fathering Hecate....

 and Pasiphaë
Pasiphaë
In Greek mythology, Pasiphaë , "wide-shining" was the daughter of Helios, the Sun, by the eldest of the Oceanids, Perse; Like her doublet Europa, her origins were in the East, in her case at Colchis, the palace of the Sun; she was given in marriage to King Minos of Crete. With Minos, she was the...

, the wife of King Minos and mother of the Minotaur
Minotaur
In Greek mythology, the Minotaur , as the Greeks imagined him, was a creature with the head of a bull on the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid, "part man and part bull"...

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Circe (icon; Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 Κίρκη Kírkē "falcon") is a minor goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 of magic (or sometimes a nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

, witch, enchantress
Enchantress
Enchantress may refer to:*Magician , a magician or spell-caster, sometimes called an enchantress or witch when female*Seduction, the enticement of one person by another, called a seductress or enchantress when it is a beautiful and charismatic woman-Literature:*"The Enchantress of Venus", a 1949...

 or sorceress), described in Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

as "The loveliest of all immortals", living on the island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 of Aeaea
Aeaea
Aeaea or Eëa was a mythological island said to be the home of the sorceress Circe. Odysseus tells Alcinous that he stayed here for a year on his way home to Ithaca....

, famous for her part in the adventures of Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

.

By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios
Helios
Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia or Euryphaessa and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn...

, the god of the sun, and Perse
Perse
Perse may refer to:* Perse, Persa or Perseis, an Oceanid, a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys in Greek mythology, wife of Helios* The Perse School, an independent co-educational school in Cambridge, England...

, an Oceanid
Oceanid
In Greek mythology and, later, Roman mythology, the Oceanids were the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each was the patroness of a particular spring, river, sea, lake, pond, pasture, flower or cloud...

 and the sister of Aeetes
Aeëtes
In Greek mythology, Aeëtes , , , was a King of Colchis , son of the sun-god Helios and the Oceanid Perseis , brother of Circe and Pasiphae, and father of Medea, Chalciope and Apsyrtus...

, the keeper of the Golden Fleece
Golden Fleece
In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-haired winged ram, which can be procured in Colchis. It figures in the tale of Jason and his band of Argonauts, who set out on a quest by order of King Pelias for the fleece in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus...

, Perses
Perses (brother of Aeetes)
In Greek mythology, Perses was the brother of Aeetes . He usurped the throne of Colchis from his brother, but was subsequently slain by Medea, his niece. He is not to be confused with the Titan known as Perses, who is known for fathering Hecate....

 and Pasiphaë
Pasiphaë
In Greek mythology, Pasiphaë , "wide-shining" was the daughter of Helios, the Sun, by the eldest of the Oceanids, Perse; Like her doublet Europa, her origins were in the East, in her case at Colchis, the palace of the Sun; she was given in marriage to King Minos of Crete. With Minos, she was the...

, the wife of King Minos and mother of the Minotaur
Minotaur
In Greek mythology, the Minotaur , as the Greeks imagined him, was a creature with the head of a bull on the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid, "part man and part bull"...

. Other accounts make her the daughter of Hecate
Hecate
Hecate or Hekate is a chthonic Greco-Roman goddess associated with magic, witchcraft, necromancy, and crossroads.She is attested in poetry as early as Hesiod's Theogony...

.

Circe transformed
Shapeshifting
Shapeshifting is a common theme in mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. It is also found in epic poems, science fiction literature, fantasy literature, children's literature, Shakespearean comedy, ballet, film, television, comics, and video games...

 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
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

 for the death of Absyrtus
Absyrtus
Absyrtus, or Apsyrtus , was in Greek mythology the son of Aeëtes and a brother of Medea and Chalciope. His mother is variously given: Hyginus calls her Ipsia, Hesiod and Apollodorus call her Eidyia, Apollonius calls her Asterodeia, and others Neaera or Eurylyte.When Medea fled with Jason, she took...

, as related in Argonautica, may reflect early tradition.

Homer's Odyssey

In Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, Circe is described as living in a mansion that stands in the middle of a clearing in a dense wood. Around the house prowled strangely docile lions and wolves, the drugged victims of her magic; they were not dangerous, and fawned on all newcomers. Circe worked at a huge loom
Loom
A loom is a device used to weave cloth. The basic purpose of any loom is to hold the warp threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of the weft threads...

. She invited Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

' crew to a feast of familiar food, a pottage of cheese and meal, sweetened with honey and laced with wine, but also laced with one of her magical potions, and she turned them all into pig
Pig
A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives...

s with a wand after they gorged themselves on it. Only Eurylochus, suspecting treachery from the outset, escaped to warn Odysseus and the others who had stayed behind at the ships. Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 set out to rescue his men, but was intercepted by his great grandfather, Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, who had been sent by Athena. Hermes told Odysseus to use the holy herb moly
Moly (herb)
Moly is a magic herb mentioned in book 10 of Homer's Odyssey.In the story, Hermes gave this herb to Odysseus to protect him from Circe's magic when he went to her home to rescue his friends. These friends came together with him from the island Aiolos after they escaped from the Cyclops...

 to protect himself from Circe's potion and, having resisted it, to draw his sword and act as if he were to attack Circe. From there, Circe would ask him to bed, but Hermes advised caution, for even there the goddess would be treacherous. She would take his manhood unless he had her swear by the names of the gods that she would not.

Odysseus followed Hermes's advice, freeing his men. Odysseus and his men remained on the island for one year feasting and drinking wine. According to Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

, Circe suggested to Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 two alternative routes to return to Ithaca: toward the "Wandering Rocks" where King Aeolus reigned or passing between the dangerous Scylla
Scylla
In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite its counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice...

 and the whirlpool Charybdis
Charybdis
Charybdis or Kharybdis was a sea monster, later rationalised as a whirlpool and considered a shipping hazard in the Strait of Messina.-The mythological background:...

, conventionally identified with the Strait of Messina
Strait of Messina
The Strait of Messina is the narrow passage between the eastern tip of Sicily and the southern tip of Calabria in the south of Italy. It connects the Tyrrhenian Sea with the Ionian Sea, within the central Mediterranean...

. She also advised Odysseus to go to the Underworld and gave him directions.

This adventure, like the story of the Cyclops, is a fairy tale of wide dispersion. In 1869 G.K.C. Gerland showed that the story makes part of the collection of Somadeva, Kathāsaritsāgara
Kathāsaritsāgara
Kathasaritsagara is a famous 11th-century collection of Indian legends, fairy tales and folk tales as retold by a Saivite Brahmin named Somadeva....

, a store of Indian tales, of which 1200 AD is the approximate date. Circe appears as a Yackshini, and is conquered when an adventurer seizes her flute whose magic music turns men into beasts. The Indian Circe had the habit of eating the animals into which she transformed men.

Hesiod's Theogony

Towards the end of Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

's Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

(1011f) we find that Circe bore of Odysseus three sons: Ardeas
Ardeas
In Greek mythology, Ardeas was a son of Odysseus and Circe. He was said to have founded Ardea, a city in Latium, although others suggest Ardea was founded by Danae....

 or Agrius (otherwise unknown), Latinus
Latinus
Latinus was a figure in both Greek and Roman mythology.-Greek mythology:In Hesiod's Theogony, Latinus was the son of Odysseus and Circe who ruled the Tyrsenoi, presumably the Etruscans, with his brothers Ardeas and Telegonus...

, and Telegonus
Telegonus
Telegonus is the name of three different characters in Greek mythology.-Son of Odysseus:In Greek mythology, Telegonus was the youngest son of Circe and Odysseus....

 who ruled over the Tyrsenoi, that is the Etruscans.

Other literature

Later poets generally only speak of Telegonus as Odysseus' son by Circe. When grown to manhood, later poets reported, she sent him to find Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

, who had long since returned to his home on Ithaca
Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

, but on arrival Telegonus accidentally killed his father. He brought the body back to Aeaea and took Odysseus' widow Penelope
Penelope
In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and is eventually reunited with him....

 and son Telemachus
Telemachus
Telemachus is a figure in Greek mythology, the son of Odysseus and Penelope, and a central character in Homer's Odyssey. The first four books in particular focus on Telemachus' journeys in search of news about his father, who has been away at war...

 with him. Circe made them immortal and married Telemachus, while Telegonus made Penelope his wife.

According to Lycophron
Lycophron
Lycophron was a Hellenistic Greek tragic poet, grammarian, and commentator on comedy, to whom the poem Alexandra is attributed .-Life and miscellaneous works:...

's Alexandra (808) and John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes was a Byzantine poet and grammarian, known to have lived at Constantinople during the 12th century.Tzetzes was Georgian on his mother's side...

' scholia on the poem (795 - 808), Circe used magical herbs to bring Odysseus back to life after he had been killed by Telegonus. Odysseus then married Telemachus to Circe's daughter Cassiphone. Some time later, Telemachus had a quarrel with his mother-in-law and killed her; Cassiphone then killed Telemachus to avenge her mother's death. On hearing of this, Odysseus died of grief.

Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus was a Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, who flourished during the reign of Caesar Augustus. His literary style was Attistic — imitating Classical Attic Greek in its prime.-Life:...

 (1.72.5) cites Xenagoras the historian as claiming that Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 and Circe had three sons: Romus, Anteias, and Ardeias who respectively founded three cities called by their names: Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, Antium, and Ardea
Ardea (RM)
Ardea is an ancient town and comune in the province of Rome, 35 km south of Rome and about 4 km from today's Mediterranean coast....

.

In later tales Circe turned Picus
Picus
In Roman mythology, Picus was the first king of Latium. He was known for his skill at augury and horsemanship. The witch Circe turned him into a woodpecker for scorning her love. Picus' wife was Canens, a nymph who killed herself after his transformation. They had one son, Faunus.According to...

 into a woodpecker
Woodpecker
Woodpeckers are near passerine birds of the order Piciformes. They are one subfamily in the family Picidae, which also includes the piculets and wrynecks. They are found worldwide and include about 180 species....

 for refusing her love, and Scylla
Scylla
In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite its counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice...

 into a monstrous creature with six dogs' heads when Glaucus
Glaucus
Glaucus is a Greek name. In modern Greek usage, the name is usually transliterated Glafkos. It may refer to:*Glaucus, a sea-god in Greek mythology*Glaucus , a mythical Lycian captain in the Trojan War...

 (another object of Circe's affection) declared his undying love for her. She had one daughter: Aega, who was born from the ocean in a shield of ice.

Circe is referred to in Dante's Divine Comedy:
"Virtue is like an enemy avoided by all, as is a serpent, through misfortune of place, or through bad habit that impels them, on which account they have so transformed their nature, the dwellers in the miserable valley, that it seems that Circe had them in her pasture."

Shakespeare makes a reference to Circe in The Comedy of Errors
The Comedy of Errors
The Comedy of Errors is one of William Shakespeare's earliest plays. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play. The Comedy of Errors is one of only two of Shakespeare's...

. When the Duke is listening to seemingly contradictory tales that arose due to confusion between identical twins, he says:

"Why what an intricate impeach is this!

I think you all have drunk of Circe's cup.

If here you housed him, here he would have been;"

Calderon de la Barca composed a mythological spectacle play based on Ulysses entrapment in Circe's island. Love, the Greatest Enchantment was performed at Philip IV
Philip IV
Philip IV may refer to:* Philip IV of Spain * Philip IV of France * Philip IV of Macedon * Philip IV of Burgundy * Philip IV of Aragon...

's palace of the Buen Retiro in 1635.

Susanna Roxman
Susanna Roxman
Susanna Roxman Susanna Roxman is an Anglophone writer, poet and critic born in Stockholm; her father’s family is Scottish. She was considered a gifted child. Her first few books were written in Swedish, but she switched over to English as her professional language...

 has a poem called "Circe" in her poetry collection Imagining Seals (Dionysia Press, Edinburgh 2006-7).

In Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Lady Brett Ashley is compared to Circe by one of the men she seduces. "He calls her Circe," Mike said. "He claims she turns men into swine."

In ancient art

Although some scenes from the Odyssey remained favorites of the vase-painters, notably the visually dramatic episode of Polyphemus, the Circe episode was rarely depicted. In describing an unusual miniature fifth-century Greek bronze in the Walters Art Museum
Walters Art Museum
The Walters Art Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland's Mount Vernon neighborhood, is a public art museum founded in 1934. The museum's collection was amassed substantially by two men, William Thompson Walters , who began serious collecting when he moved to Paris at the outbreak of the American...

, Baltimore, that takes the form of a man on all fours with the foreparts of a pig, Dorothy Kent Hill expressed the artist's dilemma: how could an artist depict a man bewitched into a pig other than as a man with a pig's head? "An author can discuss the mind and the voice, but an artist cannot show them." In an Etruscan
Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

 bronze mirror relief, a common barnyard pig is depicted at the feet of Circe: Odysseus and Elpenor approach her, swords drawn. The subject would be obscure, save that the names of the characters are inscribed in the bronze. Some Boeotia
Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

n vase-paintings show a caricature version of the episode, acted out by dwarf pygmies with negroid attributes, and an aged and lame Odysseus leaning on a staff; they are the mute survivors of some rustic comedy tradition that is impenetrable to us. The vase collection of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece holds a 5th century BC lekythos
Lekythos
A lekythos is a type of Greek pottery used for storing oil , especially olive oil. It has a narrow body and one handle attached to the neck of the vessel. The lekythos was used for anointing dead bodies of unmarried men and many lekythoi are found in tombs. The images on lekythoi were often...

 with a depiction of this episode described as "Odysseus' companions turned into swine"

Modern interpretations

Medical historians have speculated that the transformation to pigs was not intended literally but refers to anticholinergic
Anticholinergic
An anticholinergic agent is a substance that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and the peripheral nervous system. An example of an anticholinergic is dicycloverine, and the classic example is atropine....

 intoxication. Symptoms include amnesia
Amnesia
Amnesia is a condition in which one's memory is lost. The causes of amnesia have traditionally been divided into categories. Memory appears to be stored in several parts of the limbic system of the brain, and any condition that interferes with the function of this system can cause amnesia...

, hallucinations, and delusions. The description of "moly" fits the snowdrop
Snowdrop
Galanthus is a small genus of about 20 species of bulbous herbaceous plants in the Amaryllis family, subfamily Amaryllidoideae...

, a flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

 of the region that contains galantamine
Galantamine
Galantamine is used for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and various other memory impairments, in particular those of vascular origin...

, which is an anticholinesterase and can therefore counteract anticholinergics.

Eponyms

The phrase "Circean poison" has been used to refer to intoxicating things, such as applause.

The "Circe effect", coined by the enzymologist William P. Jencks, refers to a scenario where an enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

 lures its substrate
Substrate (biochemistry)
In biochemistry, a substrate is a molecule upon which an enzyme acts. Enzymes catalyze chemical reactions involving the substrate. In the case of a single substrate, the substrate binds with the enzyme active site, and an enzyme-substrate complex is formed. The substrate is transformed into one or...

 towards it through electrostatic forces exhibited by the enzyme molecule before transforming it into product
Product (business)
In general, the product is defined as a "thing produced by labor or effort" or the "result of an act or a process", and stems from the verb produce, from the Latin prōdūce ' lead or bring forth'. Since 1575, the word "product" has referred to anything produced...

. Where this takes place, the catalytic velocity (rate of reaction) of the enzyme may be significantly faster than that of others.

Popular Culture

In the 1960s television series Thriller, the episode titled "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk" concerns a woman named "Cissy Hawk" who keeps blue ribbon hogs, while at the same time men around her magically disappear. A local sheriff by the name of "Ulysses" begins to suspect that Cissy may be far older than she appears.
She has also appeared as a recurring villain facing Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is a DC Comics superheroine created by William Moulton Marston. She first appeared in All Star Comics #8 . The Wonder Woman title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986....

 in DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

.

Ancient

  • Hesiod. The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Theogony, Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.
  • Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes, Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919.
  • Lactantius Placidus, Commentarii in Statii Thebaida
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses xiv.248-308
  • Servius, In Aeneida vii.190

Modern

  • Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, ISBN 9780631201021. "Circe" p. 104
  • Smith, William
    William Smith (lexicographer)
    Sir William Smith Kt. was a noted English lexicographer.-Early life:Born at Enfield in 1813 of Nonconformist parents, he was originally destined for a theological career, but instead was articled to a solicitor. In his spare time he taught himself classics, and when he entered University College...

    ; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
    Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
    The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology is an encyclopedia/biographical dictionary.- Characteristic :...

    , London (1873). "Circe"

External links

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