Chapters 10–12 Summary

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Last Updated on January 27, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1077

Chapter 10 

Circe and the sailors reach Crete, and Circe is taken to the room where Pasiphaë is in labor. The two sisters have a pointed exchange. Pasiphaë, in pain, demands that Daedalus cut the baby out of her womb, implying he is partly responsible for its existence. Circe is to tend to the child after the cutting is done. 

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Daedalus steadily accomplishes this, and Circe retrieves the child, handling it with utmost care just before its jaws clamp down on her hand. Circe screams in pain, and blood spurts across the room: Circe has lost a number of her fingers. The child writhes on the floor, swallows the bitten-off flesh, and hungers for more. Before Circe lies no ordinary child. It is a creature with two horns, sharp teeth, a hairy face, extraordinary strength, and an insatiable hunger. As Daedalus fetches a cage to store the creature in, Pasiphaë warns them not to harm it.

Circe turns to her sister to demand an explanation. Pasiphaë blames Daedalus, who then explains how the child came to be: The gods sent a pure white bull to bless the kingdom of Minos, but the sacred bull disliked anyone coming near it. Pasiphaë was enamored with the bull, and so Daedalus built an artificial cow, which the queen could hide inside to approach the creature. The bull eventually had intercourse with the artificial cow (with Pasiphaë inside), which impregnated Pasiphaë with the sacred bull’s child. 

Daedalus asks Circe if the creature can be killed. Circe investigates the possibility and begins by exploring Pasiphaë’s workroom. She discovers all of her sister’s rudimentary herbs, haphazardly prepared, and realizes that though her sister may be a greater goddess than she is, she is not a greater witch. Circe determines that none of the herbs will be of any help, as the monster is bound to Crete. Circe turns outside to the fields. In the distance, she catches sight of the legendary Mount Dicte. It is said to contain the rarest herbs and the cave where “Zeus himself was born and hidden from his devouring father.” It is also where Artemis roams to hunt.

Circe heads to Mount Dicte. There, she touches a pool to find answers and learns that the creature can die—however, not in its infancy, and not by Circe’s or Daedalus’s hand. It must live out its destiny, and “until then, it could only be contained.” Circe proceeds to procure herbs to assist in its containment. 

Circe returns the next day and meets the gentle Ariadne, Pasiphaë’s daughter. When Circe explains to Daedalus the spell she has come up with, which will make the creature docile for three seasons until harvest time—when it must feed—Ariadne reminds them that the creature is still her brother. Circe explains her spell to the king and queen. It is clear that their marriage is bitter, and Circe discovers that her sister desires the creature to live not for love, but for glory.

Chapter 11

The queen and king name the creature the Minotaur. As they transfer the Minotaur to a stronger cage built by Daedalus, Circe casts her spell on the creature and tames it. 

Come evening, Circe forgoes the feast and accepts Daedalus’s offer to dine with him in his room. She meets his young son, Icarus, and witnesses their loving relationship. Circe and Daedalus forge a bond of mutual respect, and Daedalus discloses his plan to trap the Minotaur in a maze-like area beneath the palace. After dinner, Circe slips into her sister’s bedroom to confront her about her presence: why must it have been Circe, and not one of their other siblings? They have a heated exchange, during which Pasiphaë reveals a deep-seated hatred for their family. Pasiphaë says that it never truly mattered to Circe’s family whether she obeyed or was good. Circe’s good behavior did not encourage any of them to do the right thing by her; if...

(The entire section contains 1077 words.)

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