Circe (mythology)

Circe, the witch
   In Greek mythology, Circe was an enchantress who lived in the island Aeaea. She was the daughter of Helios, the sun-god. In his wanderings after the Trojan war Ulysses landed at the Aeaean Isle. Observing no sign of habitation, except a palace surrounded with trees in the center of the island, he sent a part of his crew under the leadership of Eurylochus to in­vestigate. On approaching the palace the men saw lions, tigers, and wolves that seemed very tame. Not realizing that these were men transformed by the magic of Circe, who inhabited the palace, they went on and at Circe's invitation entered the palace. Eurylochus, however, was cautious and remained outside. Circe feasted her guests, then touched each with her wand, and the whole number became swine in "head, body, voice, and bristles." Their intellects, however, were as before. The horrified Eurylochus returned to Ulys­ses and told what bad occurred. Ulysses decided to release his companions. On his way to the palace he met Mercury who gave him a sprig of moly, a plant with power to resist sorcery. Ulysses entered the palace and was feasted as his friends had been; but when Circe touched him with her wand and commanded him to become a swine, his form did not change as she expected, but, instead, Ulysses drew his sword and rushed upon her. She fell upon her knees and begged for mercy. This was granted, but Ulysses bound the sorceress by a solemn oath to release his companions, to practice no more charms upon them, and to dismiss them from her island in safety. Circe kept her word and made her home so pleasant for her guests that they remained a full year. At their departure she gave them aid and advice.