Chapters 4–6 Summary

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Last Reviewed on January 27, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1331

Chapter 4

Circe greets the mortal on the boat and eagerly comes aboard. The man’s obvious anxiety around her is something Circe finds familiar: it’s how she feels in the presence of her father and grandfather. She comforts him by admitting her minimal divine powers and, thus, her harmlessness. When he tries to thank her for a good catch, Circe clarifies that this is not her doing. Nevertheless, the man remains in awe of her, and Circe feels a warmth she has never felt before.

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The mortal, Glaucos, spends more time with Circe, telling her of his family and the hardships that greet them daily—all of which are novel to a goddess. Her fondness for him grows as she watches him overcome the ordeals of mortal life with human resilience, as opposed to the shrewd ease of gods. Circe decides to open up to him about her uncle Prometheus; however, this turns out to be a mistake, as Glaucos is unsettled and seems repulsed by the idea that Circe is generations older than him. She hurriedly takes it back, dismissing it as a joke.

One day, Glaucos arrives with a bruised face, having taken a beating from his father for not working hard enough at the nets. Circe tries to take care of him, but he sharply dismisses her with a reminder of her powerlessness and leaves her.  

Circe runs to Tethys, her grandmother, and begs her to fill Glaucos’s nets. When it is done, Glaucos comes rushing back, thanking Circe profusely and singing her praise. He pays no attention when she explains it was her grandmother’s doing—not hers. He is so overcome with joy that he wishes out loud that he could be a god so he may repay her. Circe desires nothing more than to fulfill his wish, and she asks Helios about turning a mortal into a god. He reprimands her, telling her this is impossible. She turns to her grandmother, asks her the same, and, in desperation, mentions pharmaka—something she had heard of from Aeëtes “when he spoke of herbs with wondrous powers, sprung from the fallen blood of gods.” Tethys is clearly alarmed by this. She rises from her throne and orders Circe never to speak of this again. 

Circe remains interested in pharmaka. She employs the wiles she had seen her mother use and beautifies herself before heading to where her uncles are gathered. Circe fawns over each one, extracting information about where the bloodiest battles of the gods took place, until she learns of one not far away.

Chapter 5

Circe coaxes a wearied Glaucos toward this battle site. As he is always exhausted from work, he soon falls asleep. Circe proceeds to pluck the flowers surrounding him and lets them drop onto his chest, their scent and pollen enveloping him.

Despite her efforts, Glaucos remains asleep—and very much a mortal. Frustrated, Circe seizes the flowers and tears them, ripping them to a pulp. In her frenzy, she suddenly recalls “that the strength of those flowers lay in their sap, which could transform any creature to its truest self.” Seeing Glaucos’s mouth gaping open, Circe judiciously squeezes the sap into his parted lips. 

Glaucos transforms into a god. He wakes up refreshed and eagerly asks Circe to take him to the gods. In the halls, Circe’s relatives gather around Glaucos, asking him over and over to tell the tale of his fateful transformation. Circe watches with love as he radiates pride in his newfound form. Granted his own palace, Glaucos is never without guests. He boasts to them of how he killed his father by smashing his boat and blessed his mother, who built him an altar. Glaucos displays even more “godly” behavior in the coming days: he guffaws like Circe’s uncles, polishes off his drink in golden goblets, and rescues entire ships. He also asks about Scylla, an alluring yet malicious nymph who seems to have caught his eye. 

Circe notices Scylla more and more;...

(The entire section contains 1331 words.)

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