In my book, Minotaur’s Lair, Evan and his companions are drugged to forget their quest on the Isle of Hephaistos (today known as Lesvos), by the queen of the Amazons. I was inspired by the scene in Homer’s Odyssey where Odysseos and his crew land on an island ruled by Circe (Kirke). She was a skillful sorceress and could transform people into animals, create illusions and communicate with the dead. Her name means “hoop around”, which refers her magical ability to bind power over mortals and all living creatures.
It was what she did to Odysseos’ men that germinated the idea for a pivotal scene in Book 2 The Labyrinthine Journey, the drama beginning towards the end of the book. When Odysseos and his crew arrived at Circe’s island, they had just escaped from being eaten by the Kyklop (Cyclop), who happened to be Poseidon’s son. Whom, BTW, was not happy with Odysseos for blinding the giant. That’s a story for another time. The intrepid warriors were tired and hungry when they landed and the last of Odysseos’ ships that wasn’t destroyed after leaving Troy.
In the glades they found the palace of Kirke (Circe), built of smooth stones on open ground. Outside, there were lions and mountain wolves that she had herself bewitched by giving them magic drugs. The beasts did not set upon my men; they reared up, instead, and fawned on them with their long tails.Homer, Odyssey 10. 135-12. 156
Odysseos split the crew in two to search for food and one group finds Circe’s palace. She invites them in, except one warrior didn’t enter, being a cautious fellow. Those who did follow her ate their fill of cheese, barley-meal coated in honey and wine. Lulled into a food and drunken stupor, Circe then turns them into pigs. (Quite the metaphor)
The one crew member who didn’t enter the palace hastened back to the beach and told Odysseos what happened. The king of Ithaka sets off to rescue his men and on his way Hermes stops him and gives him a potent herb called moly. This plant protects Odysseos from falling to the same fate as his men, stumping Circe as to why her poison didn’t work on him.
This is where in my story the use of moly departs from the how it worked for Odysseos and his crew. The description of the plant is same, however the effects of the drug is quite different “… its root was black, its flower milk-white. Its name among the gods is moly.” (Homer, Odyssey). In the case of Odysseos, he becomes impervious to the poison Circe offers him to drink. The application of moly on my main character affects Evan and his companions’ memories, making them forget their quest. They are kept drugged while enslaved by the Amazonian queen. In Minotaur’s Lair, the impact of the moly is further explored and has lasting effects.
Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey helped shape my stories and continue to inspire my writing. What inspires you to write or create?
Thank you for your continued support and as always, I look forward to your comments and will respond.
Resources and further reading:
Atsma, A.J. (2017). Kirke. Theoi.com. https://www.theoi.com/Titan/Kirke.html
Greek Legends and Myths. (n.d.). Circe in Greek Mythology. Greeklegendsandmyths.com. https://www.greeklegendsandmyths.com/circe.html
GreekMythology.com. (2018, June 1). Circe. GreekMythology.com. https://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Circe/circe.html
Miate, L. (2022, November 8). Circe. Worldhistory.com. https://www.worldhistory.org/Circe/