Madeline Miller is my new favorite author. She makes me want to take a Classics class. I don’t even know what that class is officially called, but anything that has to do with Greek gods and I am in. From Circe I have learned the Greek gods are more like humans than we can imagine, but things like kindness and friendship is not something they are familiar with. And I hate to say this, but I think I have more in common with Circe than I’d like to admit because of who she is and what happens to her.
Getting exiled to an island due to transforming your sister into a six-headed monster is not my idea of a good time, but as a crazy writer introvert, I can relate to her life on the island in a weird way. Ever since my pre-teens I have dreamed of being on an island with no rules and being able to bring anyone on it as I like and if I had a boyfriend, do anything with him that I wanted and anything he wanted. Circe may be considered a witch, but there must be something therapeutic in working on her potions and spells and using different herbs and such like I find in writing or reading. She fell in love with the wrong man at the beginning of her journey and that caused her to not desire a commitment. I can understand that.
When men came to her island to rape her, she started turning all of them into what they are: pigs. While I cannot relate to that, I can understand why she would want to do that. In a world where women were devalued and not in control of anything, Circe was able to take control of her own life on her island and even find peace in being alone. She knew in her exile that she must still find a way to make things right with Scylla, her sister she turned into a monster, which is why she went in the end to find her. Things did not turn out the way she wanted, but she found the understanding she craved in Telemachus, Penelope’s son with Odysseus.
I admire Circe for her strength and independence. She may not do everything right, but she knew how to make the best of every situation throughout all her wild adventures. She also didn’t get everything she wanted, but she did get the understanding she desperately needed in the end. Isn’t that all we are ever asking for?