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Κίρκη). The sister of Aeëtes, king of Colchis, and daughter of the Sun and Persé, or Perseïs, one of the ocean-nymphs. Circé is celebrated for her skill in magic arts, and for her knowledge of subtle poisons. According to Homer ( Od. x. 135 foll.), she dwelt in an island (Aeaea), attended by four nymphs, and all persons who approached her dwelling were first feasted, and then, on tasting the contents of her magic cup, converted into beasts. When Odysseus had been thrown on her shores, he deputed some of his companions to explore the country; these, incautiously partaking of the banquet set before them, were, by the effect of the enchanted potion, transformed into swine. When Odysseus himself, on hearing of their misfortune from Eurylochus, set out to release them or share their fate, he was met by Hermes, who gave him a plant named moly (μῶλυ), potent against her magic, and directed him how to act. Accordingly when she handed him the medicated cup, he drank of it freely; and Circé, thinking it had produced its usual effect, striking him with her wand, bade him go join his comrades in their sty. But Odysseus, drawing his sword, threatened to slay her; and the terrified goddess bound herself by a solemn oath to do him no injury. She afterwards, at his desire, restored his companions to their pristine form, and they all abode in her dwelling for an entire year. Circé is said to have had by Odysseus a son named Telegonus (q.v.), who afterwards unwittingly slew his own father in Ithaca, whither he had wandered in search of him. See Odysseus.

Later writers took great liberties with the narratives of Homer and Hesiod. Thus, for example, Dionysius, the Cyclic poet, makes Circé the daughter of Aeëtes by Hecaté, the daughter of his brother Perses. He goes on to say that she was married to the king of the Sarmatians, whom she poisoned and seized his kingdom; but, governing tyrannically, she was expelled, and then fled to a desert isle of the ocean, or, as some said, to the headland named from her in Italy. (See Circeii.) The Latin writers thence took occasion to connect Circé with their own scanty mythology. See Cic. N. D. iii. 19, 48; and the article Scylla.

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