Circe is the daughter of Helius and Perse and the sister of Aeetes.  She lived on the island of Aeaea.  Her island was visited by both the Argonauts and Odysseus.

After Jason and the Argonauts treacherously murdered Apsyrtus, they were driven to Aeaea by Hera so that she could purify them of the murder.  Circe purified Jason and Medea for their crime, but when she found out what they had done, she ordered them to leave.

After the Trojan War, when Odysseus arrived at the island on his voyage home, the Greeks were scared to leave their ships.  Despite their protests, Odysseus drew lots to see which of the crew would investigate the home.  Twenty-two of the men, led by Eurylochus, were chosen and climbed up the hill.  Several hours later, only Eurylochus returned to the ships. 

He said that as they neared the house, they encountered wild animals, which did not attack them.  When they arrived at the house, a woman appeared and invited them to come inside.  The rest entered, but Eurylochus became afraid and stayed behind.  After several hours with no sign of his companions, Eurylochus decided to return to the beach.

Odysseus ordered Eurylochus to lead him back to the house, but he refused.  Odysseus then headed alone up towards the house.  On the way, he met Hermes disguised as a boy.  Hermes warned him about Circe, and gave him a plant to eat, which would counteract the witch's spells.

Upon entering the house, Circe gave Odysseus a poisoned drink, which he readily drank.  She then touched him with her wand, but nothing happened.  The plant had protected Odysseus, just as Hermes had said.  Odysseus then drew his sword and threatened her until she swore not to harm him.  The two then became lovers.

Circe undid her spell upon the Greeks, and the Greeks still on the shore came to the house as well.  The Greeks then enjoyed Circe's hospitality.  After a year, Odysseus's crew became restless, and they urged him to leave.  Circe advised Odysseus to seek the seer Tiresias in the underworld, for he would know the way to Ithaca.


  1. Apollonius RhodiusArgonautica.

  2. HomerOdyssey.