No matter how much you like or dislike stories of Greek mythology, the story of Circe is a roller coaster ride of base emotions, like jealousy, love, anger, betrayal, and revenge. Circe is a well-known goddess linked to sorcery, herbology, witchcraft, and femininity. Madeline Miller’s book is a brief overview of this goddess’s story told from Circe’s perspective. It touches on many of the famous stories involving Circe, but not all of them. The reader will meet Helios, Scylla, the Minotaur, Tygon, Hermes, and Odysseus, as well as many other Titans and deities of Olympia. This book is a wonderful representation of Circe and provides readers with reasons for some of her vengeful acts and glimpses into her compassionate side.
Madeline Miller is creative in her take on Circe. Even though many mythology stories are left out of this novel, the author is clearly well versed and knowledgeable in Greek mythology, Circe specifically. She managed to shed light on Circe’s wicked side. For instance, Circe’s relationship with her family is loveless, which explains her frigid relationships with others. It’s hard to express love appropriately if you haven’t been loved. Also, Circe doesn’t turn visitors to her island to pigs until one ship’s captain rapes her. Being isolated on the island with zero help from her family, Circe has to defend herself using what she knows best, witchcraft. Thank goodness Odysseus is kind and wise, or else his crew would have remained swine.
I suppose the story of Circe, which was probably created by a man, is meant to portray strong-willed, intelligent, and independent women as unattractive and unworthy of love from their family as well as men. However, we know this to not be true. Circe is a symbol of many things, one being female power. She used trial and error to learn botany and employed witchcraft to protect her home and strike at those who cross her.
There are many lessons to be learned from stories in mythology, and Circe is no exception.