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Circe by Madeline Miller. Book club discussion questions

What do we remember about Circe from the Myths of Ancient Greece? Almost nothing. We remember that she was praised by Homer in his Odyssey, that she turned Odysseus' companions into pigs, and that she loved Odysseus. A great but lonely sorceress. That's it. The rest has been erased from my memory.

Circe Madeline Miller

The first thing I would like to say is: “Don't believe the cover”. It looks completely unattractive and at first sight promises nothing interesting inside. Meanwhile, “Circe” has millions of copies, and the adaptation on HBO.

Madeline Miller reworked the story in a new modern way. An intellectual Maliphisent. When we learn about the premise and motivations of the classic villain.

Circe was born into the family of Helios, the sun god and mightiest of the titans. But she is a strange child: not strong like her father, nor maliciously attractive like her mother. When she turns to the mortal world for help, she discovers that she does have powers - powers of sorcery that can turn rivals into monsters and threaten the gods themselves.

Zeus banishes her to a desert island, where she hones her occult skills, tames wild beasts, and crosses paths with many famous figures from mythology.

Circea unwittingly incurs the wrath of both men and gods. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and decide once and for all who she is: underdog or superhuman?

Circe book Madeline Miller

“Circea,” with unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and a gripping plot, is an epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, and a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world.

“Circea” has been translated into 30 languages, selling 1.1 million copies in the U.S. in 2019. A 2018 The New York Times bestseller, the most anticipated book of 2018 by Esquire and Cosmopolitan (USA) and Guardian (UK).

An HBO adaptation is coming out this year.


Book Club Questions

1) Circe struggles to find her place as a woman in a man's world. What parts of her experience resonate with contemporary issues facing women?

2) Throughout the story, we see many powerful characters abusing their position. Are power and abuse necessarily linked? Are there models of power without violence in the novel?

3) Circe's gift is transformation. How does she transform from the beginning of the novel to the end? Why does she ultimately choose the path she follows?

4) The central theme of Homer's Odyssey is the longing for nostos-the return home. How does this theme resonate with Circe's story?

5) How did Circe's encounter with Prometheus change her? How does it continue to influence her actions?

6) Throughout the novel, Circe makes a distinction between gods and mortals. How does Glaucus change when he becomes a god?

7) Circe wonders if parents will ever be able to see their children clearly. She notes that very often when we look at our children, “we see only a mirror of our own shortcomings.” What parts of herself does she see when she looks at Telegon? What are her strengths and weaknesses as a parent to him?

8) How did Odysseus influence Circe? What can you say about his character and psycho-emotional state on the island and when he returns home?

9) Circe meets several famous characters from Greek myth. Were any of their portrayals surprising?


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