Highlighting Madeline Miller’s Circe: Chapter 1

Apparently, Wonder Woman fought Circe once. Let’s learn more about her illustrious foe by reading Madeline Miller’s Circe!

  • Circe, narration (3): In our language, it means not just goddess, but bride.
  • Perse (5): It is marriage or nothing. And if it is marriage, be sure: you may have what girls you like in the field, but you will bring none home, for only I will hold sway in your halls.
  • Circe first narrating, speaking, then narrating again (6-7): I grew quickly. My infancy was the work of hours, my toddlerhood a few moments beyond that. An aunt stayed on hoping to curry favor with my mother and named me Hawk, Circe, for my yellow eyes, and the strange, thin sound of my crying. But when she realized that my mother no more noticed her service than the ground at her feet, she vanished.

    “Mother,” I said. “Aunt is gone.”

    My mother didn’t answer. My father had already departed for his chariot in the sky, and she was winding her hair with flowers, preparing to leave through the secret ways of water, to join her sisters on their grassy riverbanks. I might have followed, but then I would have had to sit all day at my aunts’ feet while they gossiped of things I did not care for and could not understand. So I stayed.
  • Circe, narration (7): My father has never been able to imagine the world without himself in it.
  • Circe, narration (7-8): At my father’s feet, the whole world was made of gold. The light came from everywhere at once, his yellow skin, his lambent eyes, the bronze flashing of his hair. His flesh was as hot as a brazier, and I pressed as close as he would let me, like a lizard to noonday rocks.
  • Circe and Helios (8): “What would happen,” I said, “if a mortal saw you in your fullest glory?”

    “He would be burned to ash in a second.”

    “What if a mortal saw me?”

    My father smiled. I listened to the daught pieces moving, the familiar rasp of marble against wood. “The mortal would count himself fortunate.”

    “I would not burn him?”

    “Of course not,” he said.

    “But my eyes are like yours.”

    “No,” he said. “Look.” He gaze fell upon a log at the fireplace’s side. It glowed, then flamed, then fell as ash to the ground. “And that is the least of my powers. Can you do as much?”

    All night I stared at those logs. I could not.
  • Circe, narrating (10): I had never seen a cow before, of any kind, but it did not matter, the animals were so obviously beautiful that I needed no comparison. Their coats were pure as lily petals and their eyes gentle and long-lashed. Their horns were gilded―that was my sister’s doing―and when they bent to crop the grass, their necks dipped like dancers. In the sunset light, their backs gleamed glossy-soft.
  • Circe, narrating (13): Such were my days then. I would like to say that all the while I waited to break out, but the truth is, I’m afraid I might have floated on, believing those dull miseries were all there was, until the end of days.
moodboard featuring fire, a hawk, water, ash, and a flower growing out of a marble statue. captioned "Madeline Miller: Circe Chapter 1". Quote 1, near the fire: It glowed, then flamed, then fell as ash to the ground. "And that is the least of my powers. Can you do as much?" Quote 2, by the hawk: "Mother," I said. "Aunt is gone." Quote 3, over the water and flower-holding statue: It is marriage or nothing. And if it is marriage, be sure: you may have what girls you like in the field, but you will bring none home, for only I will hold sway in your halls.
Pexels collection for I used in the moodboard.

Got any songs you recommend for my Circe playlist? Let me know in the comments!


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