Friday, February 22, 2013

Circe, Odysseus, Telegonus, Penelope, Telemachus

For Mario ~
Having murdered her husband, the prince of Colchis, she was expelled by her subjects and placed by her father on the solitary island of Aeaea
A not atypical intro to Circe, daughter of Helios and Perse, or of Hecate. She is prominent in Metamorphoses 13 - 14, using her power to disrupt the love of Glaucus for Scylla, and of Picus for Canens, as well as to turn Macareus and Odysseus's other men into boars. 

But her involvement with Odysseus goes much further, according to some ancient sources:

Towards the end of Hesiod's Theogony (1011f), it is stated that Circe bore Odysseus three sons: Ardeas or Agrius (otherwise unknown); Latinus; and Telegonus, who ruled over the Tyrsenoi, that is the Etruscans. The Telegony (Τηλεγόνεια), an epic now lost, relates the later history of the last of these. Circe eventually informed him who his absent father was and, when he set out to find Odysseus, gave him a poisoned spear. With this he killed his father unknowingly. Telegonus then brought back his father's corpse, together with Penelope and Odysseus' other son Telemachus, to Aeaea. After burying Odysseus, Circe made the others immortal. According to Lycophron's Alexandra (808) and John Tzetzes' scholia on the poem.

Even that's not enough:

Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1.72.5) cites Xenagoras, the second century BC historian, as claiming that Odysseus and Circe had three sons: Romus, Anteias, and Ardeias, who respectively founded three cities called by their names: Rome, Antium, and Ardea.

The stories link Circe to Odysseus and to Rome, one way or another.

Apollonius Rhodius tells of Jason and Medea seeking purification from Circe for the murder of Medea's brother, Absyrtus. Medea was the witch of the East responsible for the utter destruction of Jason, his children, his new wife, and father in law, King Creon. Her aunt, Circe is the witch of the West, who apparently meets her match in Odysseus. Thanks to Macareus, Aeneas never meets her at all.

The union of Circe and Odysseus bred Telegonus, who according to some stories killed his father and married his mother. Pseudo-Hyginus claims that from these unions came Italus and Latinus:
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 127 :
"Telegonus, son of Ulysses [Odysseus] and Circe, sent by his mother to find his father, by a storm was carried to Ithaca . . . Telegonus with Telemachus and Penelope returned to his home on the island of Aeaea by Minerva’s [Athena's] instructions. They brought the body of Ulysses to Circe, and buried it there. By the advise of Minerva [Athena] again, Telegonus married Penelope, and Telemachus married Circe. From Circe and Telemachus Latinus was born, who gave his name to the Latin language."
From Circe and Telemachus Latinus was born, who gave his name to the Latin language; from Penelope and Telegonus Italus was born, who called the country Italy from his own name.
The tale of Telgonus, Odysseus, Penelope, Telemachus and Circe apparently was the subject of the Telegony.

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