(The speakers in the dialogue are Odysseus,
Circe, and Gryllus.)
Odysseus. These facts,1
Circe, I believe I have
learned and shall not forget them ; yet I should be
happy to learn from you further whether there are
any Greeks among those whom you have changed
from the shape of men into wolves and lions.
Circe. Quite a few, beloved Odysseus. But what
is your reason for asking this question ?
Odysseus. It is, I swear, because it would bring
me noble glory among the Greeks if by your favour
I should restore comrades of mine to their original
humanity and not allow them to grow old in the
unnatural guise of beasts, leading an existence that
is so piteous and shameful.
Circe. Here's a lad who finds it appropriate that
not only himself and his companions, but even total
strangers should, through his stupidity, find his ambition their ruin.
Odysseus. This is a new potion2
of words that you
are stirring and drugging for me, Circe. It will certainly
transform me literally into a beast if I am to
take your word for it that changing from beast to man
Circe. Haven't you already worked a stranger
magic than this on yourself? You who refused an
ageless, immortal life at my side and would struggle
through a thousand new dangers to a woman who is
mortal and, I can assure you, no longer so very
young - and this for no object other than to make
yourself more gaped at and renowned than you
already are, pursuing an empty phantom instead of
what is truly good.
Odysseus. All right, let it be as you say, Circe.
Why must we quarrel again and again about the
same matters ? Now please just grant me the favour
of letting the men go free.
Circe. By the Black Goddess,3
it's not so simple
as that. These creatures are no run of the mill. You
must ask them first if they are willing. If they say
no, my hero, you'll have to argue with them and
convince them. And if you don't, and they win the
argument, then you must be content with having
exercised poor judgement about yourself and your
Odysseus. Dear lady, why are you making fun of
me ? How can they argue with me or I with them
so long as they are asses and hogs and lions ?
Circe. Courage, courage, my ambitious friend.
I'll see to it that you shall find them both receptive
and responsive. Or rather, one of the number will
be enough to thrust and parry for them all. Presto !
You may talk with this one.
Odysseus. And how am I to address him, Circe?
Who in the world was he?4
Circe. What's that to do with the issue ? Call
if you like. I'll retire now to avoid any
suggestion that he is arguing against his own convictions to curry favour with me.