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[135] Αἰαίη. The same word is used as an epithet of Circe, Od.5. 334.Nitzsch considers it to be connected with “αἶα”, as if in allusion to some vague distant ‘Land;’ with this we might compare “Σχερίη”, an adjective from “σχερός”. There is no notice given in the text of any specially long time spent on the voyage between the country of the Laestrygones and the Aeaean isle, from which we may infer that the distance supposed to separate them was not particularly great. This would incline us to reckon the story and the home of Circe among the wonders belonging to the land of the West.

In apparent contradiction to this is the description given in Od.12. 3, where Odysseus, on his return from the land of Hades, finds himself once more at the Aeaean isle, “ὅθι τ᾽ Ἠοῦς ἠριγενείης

οἰκία καὶ χοροί εἰσι καὶ ἀντολαὶ Ἠελίοιο”. See note there.
A mythological explanation of the difficulty suggests that in the Odyssey, as we have it, there are two forms of the story of Circe; one which connects her with the East, the other with the West, the former myth probably belonging to the Argonautic legend. The ancient name of Colchis was Aea (Hdt. 1. 2; 7. 193, 197), and the king of the country was Aeetes, his daughter being Medea, the famous sorceress. The genealogy followed in the Odyssey makes Circe sister of Aeetes, and daughter of Helios by Perse, an Oceanid. Hesiod gives the same account, only substituting Persëis for Perse, and adding that Aeetes became father of Medea by Iduia (the cunning woman). Other forms of the story make Circe daughter of Hyperion and Aërope (Orph. Arg. 1215), or of Aeetes and Hecate ( Diod. Sic. 4. 45). Another set of legends again gives Circe a home in the West. Hesiod ( Hesiod Theog.1011 foll.) represents her as having borne to Odysseus two sons, “Ἄγριος” and “Λατῖνος”, unless for “Ἄγριος” we ought to read “Γραῖκος” (see Göttl. ad loc.). There is little doubt, indeed, that the passage is spurious; it is however useful as pointing to an early transference of Circe to Italy and the cities of Magna Graecia. So Euripides ( Eur. Troad.438) speaks of “Λίγυστις Κίρκη”, see also Apoll. Rhod. 3. 200; 4. 559. Under this aspect Circe appears with new family relations. She is a wife of Zeus, and mother of Faunus (NonnusEur. Troad., 13. 300), who is himself father of Latinus ( Aen.7. 47). She bears to Odysseus a third son, Telegonus ( Hes. Theog.1014†), who is the founder of Praeneste and Tusculum ( Hom. Od.3. 25. 8; Ov. Fast.3. 92; 4. 71). Circe's home is now placed at Cape Circaeum, near Circeii (Monte Circello), “ὄρος νησίζον θαλάττῃ τε καὶ ἕλεσι . . ἔχει δὲ καὶ πολίχνιον καὶ Κίρκης ἱερὸν, δείκνυσθαι δὲ καὶ φιάλην τινές φασιν ὈδυσσέωςStrab. 5. 3. 6. p. 355. Cp. Cic. de Deor. Nat. 3. 19; Virg. Aen.3. 385; Strab.9. 395; Pausan. 5. 19. 7. It will be noticed that all the pedigrees make Circe a daughter of the Sun. Perhaps too we see in the statement that Perse or Persëis was an Oceanid the first hint of a connection between Circe and the West. This confusion between West and East would seem to have been early felt, and a story was invented to account for the transference of the scene. Circe is represented ( Diod. Sic. 4. 45) as having passed from East to West in the chariot of the Sun. The name Circe has been variously interpreted. In Suid. and Etym. M. it is referred to “κερκίς”, because she is represented as a ‘weaver,’ inf. 222. Another derivation connects the name with “κεράννυμι” (“κίρνημι”), because she ‘mixes’ the magic potion.

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hide References (16 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (16):
    • Euripides, Trojan Women, 13
    • Euripides, Trojan Women, 438
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.2
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.193
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.197
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 1011
    • Hesiod, Theogony, 1014
    • Homer, Odyssey, 12.3
    • Homer, Odyssey, 3.25
    • Homer, Odyssey, 5.334
    • Strabo, Geography, 5.3.6
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 3.385
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 7.47
    • Cicero, de Natura Deorum, 3.19
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 4.45
    • Ovid, Fasti, 3
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