The Odyssey

by: Homer

Circe

Circe, like Calypso, is an immortal goddess who seeks to prevent Odysseus from returning home. Also like Calypso, Circe is described as “lustrous” and “the nymph with the lovely braids,” and is first seen weaving at her loom. Circe has magic powers, which she uses to turn some of Odysseus’s men into pigs. When Odysseus resists her magic with the help of the god Hermes, Circe invites him into her bed, then bathes him, feeds him, and releases his men from the spell she’s cast on them. Odysseus describes Circe’s home as overflowing with abundant food and luxury: “handmaids bustled through the halls[…]One draped the chairs with fine crimson covers[…]A third mulled heady, heart-warming wine[…]she eased me into a tub and bathed me.” In Circe’s home, Odysseus loses sight of the goal of returning to Ithaca, and he happily spends a year enjoying her hospitality, until his men remind him of their mission. Because Circe succeeds in distracting Odysseus from his quest, she can be seen as representing the dangers of excess comfort and pleasure. Once she agrees not to play any more tricks on Odysseus and his men, Circe turns out to be the ideal host – in fact, too ideal for any guest who wants to eventually leave.