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C O U R S E 
Greek and Roman Mythology
Dr. Peter Struck, University of Pennsylvania
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Odysseus and Circe
Notes taken on October 2, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
Aeolus [Αἴολος]
foreign kind who has control of all the winds
has all the winds stuffed into a single bag
his sons and daughters marry one another
even in Greek mythology, brother and sister marriages count as prohibited
so Aeolus is being represented even by Homer as a bit strange and exotic
again, the curiosity of Odysseus' men leads to a problem
they can't wait to see what's in that bag
meet the Laestrygonians who are a tribe of giant cannibals from ancient Greek mythology
the revulsion of this carries forward through the episodes
another a wash-up on an unknown shore
search party goes out
Odysseus stays behind
hears of problems
then he goes out to set things right
in Circe's village
things are quite profoundly wrong there
Odysseus' men get turned into pigs
humanity is taken away from them
but not just turned into animals but animals which humans consume as food
so men have become edible creatures of food chain
adds to the horrific natures of this shape-shifting
men wonder how women can turn men into pigs
perhaps this was a fear that men had at some point
Circe is not the first female character we have seen who has a witching power
in this case Circe has the power to literally unman men
erotic dimension of Circe
after Odysseus wins her over she carries over with an erotic relationship with Odysseus which lasts over a year
theme: dangerous women who have magical powers who can do shape-shifting with men and who have an erotic draw on male creatures
a standard piece of ancient myth
Odysseus' way of overcoming Circe
he pulls his sword on her
he also has a special magical potion which he gets from Hermes
this gives him a power to resist her magic
she mixes up her herbs, gives the drink to other men, they turn into pigs, but not Odysseus is impervious because of his counter magic
he rushes at her with his sword
she falls for him
Circe wanted all along for Odysseus to love her
has a long tryst with Odysseus which lasts a year
Odysseus' men have to talk him out of this one
his men finally get him ready to go
Circe gives him clues for how to find his way home
she says he will need to find the smartest man around, Tiresias [Τειρεσίας]
but he just happens to be dead
so Odysseus will have to make his way to the underworld
Circe shows him how to do this, lay out a trench and an attractive bait for the shades to come out of the underworld, so he can interview them and find his way to Tiresias
loose end that doesn't get tied up
Elpenor [Ἐλπήνωρ]
not especially notable for his intelligence or strength
became drunk and climbed onto the roof of Circe's palace to sleep
falls off the roof and dies
completely alone
the other men don't realize that he is dead