They arrived, after barely surviving a ferocious storm at sea, at a wooded island, filled with beeches and oaks. On the shore lions and tigers and wolves prowled but when approached they rolled over and purred. Odysseus sent some men to investigate. The beasts led the men deep into a dark forest, until they arrived at a clearing, where a feast was laid out.
At the head of the table sat pretty young woman, with long blonde hair. It was Circe, the enchantress of the isle of dawn.
“Come and eat”, she proclaimed, “all are welcome!”
The men rushed forward gorging on the delights on offer. Except for Eurylochus. He was suspicious and held back, hiding behind a tree. He watched as Circe took out a magic wand and turned all the men into pigs!
“Get into the sty, you greedy things”, the enchantress cried.
Eurylochus, in terror, went to find Odysseus. On hearing of what happened he grabbed his sword and rushed to rescue his comrades. On the way he met the god Hermes.
“Wait”, he commanded. “You will need this”. He handed him a small white flower with a black root. He told Odysseus to keep the moly flower in his pocket – if he held it there it would protect him against the magic of Circe. Odysseus thanked his kind helper.
So, Odysseus arrived at Circe’s and went through the same steps as his men. He was welcomed, ate and drank. But when Circe tried tapped him on the shoulder with her magic wand nothing happened. At first, she was perplexed, but then realised she had been out-foxed by the cunning Odysseus. He ordered her to return his men.
Circe promised no more tricks. She insisted that the men stay while their ship was being mended and replenish themselves. “I will help you get home to Ithaca she said”.
When it was time to set off Circe told Odysseus that, before returning home, he must first visit the underworld. There he would make the acquaintance of Tiresias, the greatest of all the Greek seers. She set a mist through his ship which would protect Odysseus and his men on their voyage.