Last Updated on January 27, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1250
Helios arrives, not because he is easily summoned but perhaps out of a morbid curiosity about his daughter’s request. She brazenly asks him to end her exile. When he refuses, Circe fights back, threatening to expose her knowledge of his and her uncle’s treasonous whispers to Zeus. Angered that she would dare to start another war between the Titans and Olympians, Helios says he can end her “with a thought.” Circe reminds him that he has no idea how deep her power goes or what lengths she has gone to protect herself, suggesting that she may even be able to make his own powers to “rebound” upon him. In the end, Helios bends to her will, though he calls her the worst of his children. Circe retorts that when he counts his children, he should leave her out.
Circe divulges to Penelope her plan to leave the island. Penelope wishes to stay on Aiaia, so Circe teaches her how to work herbs to create spells and potions for protection. Circe sets out for the boat and finds that it has been repaired. Telemachus appears and admits that he was angry with her for believing he would go with Athena. Circe explains that she misinterpreted his stories about Athena as him yearning for that kind of life—one filled with glory and adventure. He reminds her that he is not his father and expresses his wish to join Circe in leaving Aiaia. Circe warns him that it will not be safe, but he wants to go with her anyway. They depart at dawn, headed for the straits where Scylla lives. They’ve gathered the necessary supplies: potions and salves, along with the poisoned spear. Aboard the boat, Circe transforms twelve big fish into twelve fat rams and affixes a pot of potion around the neck of the fattest one. She then places a spell on Telemachus, making him appear invisible.
They arrive at the straits. The hungry Scylla snatches up the rams as expected and ingests the one with potion attached to its body. This potion is powerful, for it contains a potent blend of Trygon’s poison, rare herbs, elements from Aiaia, and Circe’s own blood. Circe advances and cries out the spell into the mist. However, before her magic can take effect, Scylla, in her bloodlust, makes out the form of Telemachus rowing hard at the oars. Circe temporarily fends her off using the spear made of Trygon’s tail.
The potion finally begins to take effect. Scylla’s heads begin to droop, her twelve enormous legs dropping one by one into the sea. The legs threaten to hit the boat, and they struggle to row away, Telemachus’s hands bleeding from the effort; each leg that falls into the sea nearly sends them to their death. In the commotion, the poisoned spear falls overboard, along with their stores for the journey. Finally, Scylla’s entire body plummets down the cliff, the impact wave sending them splashing out of the straits. Circe, dazed from the battering, looks back and sees Scylla’s form at the foot of the cliff. Her spell has turned Scylla to stone.
Circe and Telemachus recover on a faraway shore. She hesitates at first to tell him of how Scylla came to be a monster; however, she later casts aside her fear and takes the leap. He listens without judgement and tries to comfort her, suggesting that maybe it was Scylla’s destiny to be a monster. Circe rejects this, reminding Telemachus that his shame over killing the slave girls is how he knows he is different from his father; Circe explains that it is important for her, too, to hold on to her feelings of guilt and regret. Circe confesses that her past is filled with other “monsters and horrors no one wants to hear,” but Telemachus replies “I want to hear.” In this moment, Circe perceives that all her excuses as to why they cannot be together—his mother, his father, his mortality—are based in fear. Admitting to herself that...
(The entire section contains 1250 words.)
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