Odysseus survived the journey past the Sirens. But he can't forget Circe.
|I have not written in this ship's log for many days because of the perils that I, Odysseus, have been bringing my sailors through. While must wait here on Thrinacia for a good wind, I will resume the log.
My men are resting, but I need to be watchful that they do not kill and eat any of the sheep or cows we see wandering in the meadows of this fair isle. Circe warned me that the flocks and herds belong to Helios Hyperion, and we dare not bring on ourselves any more miseries by angering him. I myself am unable to rest, for my mind is much troubled. By Circe first of all.
Oh Circe, fairest goddess, you captured my heart!
My troubles have been many. I left Troy with a fleet of twelve good ships, of them I am left with only one. Now I and my men are grieving for the loss of my six best sailors, snatched from my ship as we passed between the crags of Scylla and Charybdis.
Circe, beloved goddess, I spent a year enthralled in your company. I gladly went to Hades as you instructed me, and I would do it again if it meant I could return to you forever. But the wind we are waiting for will take us further from you.
Now, while the South Wind is preventing us from leaving this island, we may renew our minds and bodies, drinking the sweet stream water and eating the food Circe gave us.
Circe! I only need to close my eyes and I see you, lying down next to me in the darkness as I sat in your meadow. I related to you all that we had seen in Hades, and how we returned to your house to bury the young sailor. You lay with your hair glinting in the starlight as it was spread on the grass, and your eyes were closed as you listened. Then you spoke to me of what we had yet to encounter, and I heeded your words. And your voice sounded in my ears as sweet music, and it soaked through my body and ensnared my heart. But you sent me away at dawn.
As Circe advised, when we approached the flowery meadow of the Sirens, I softened wax by kneading it in my hands, and with it I blocked the ears of my men so they would not be able to hear the sweet musical voices of the Sirens. I instructed my men, as sweet Circe told me, to tie me to the mast so I could not respond to the lure of the Sirens' songs. As the wind dropped, we lowered the sail, and the sailors rowed past the meadows where two fair maidens sat. When they saw the ship passing, they sang hymns of beauty, and their voices floated across the water and did so entice me that I desired to leap out of the ship and swim to them, although they were surrounded by the mouldy bones of many men. When I frowned at my men, indicating that they should untie me, they would not look at my face full of longing, but some tied me more, and the rest kept on rowing. So as I tried to pull the ropes off myself, the voices grew fainter and died away. My men saw me weeping for my loss, saw that we had rounded the headland, and so they untied me and unstopped their ears.
Oh Circe, you kept me and my men in your house against our wills. When my men urged me to go home, you let us go, on condition that we consult the oracle in Hades. How could you ever send me away, and how did I consent to leave you the second time?
Then we drew closer to Charybdis and Scylla, and the Sirens' voices were forgotten in that terrible passage. If only I had not donned my shining armour and so drawn attention to my black ship! We sailed as close as I dared by Scylla's grim cliffs. No sign of her did we see until my six sailors were snatched screaming out of my ship and devoured by the heads of that foul dog of the clouded cliffs!
And had we sailed further from Scylla's cliffs, we would have come too close to Charybdis' roaring whirlpools of salty sea on the other side, and the whole ship would have perished. The sea was drawn down so low we could see the sand below, then it spouted upwards, dousing the ancient olive tree hanging over it. But with great fear we escaped without further loss.
We rowed into calm, wide water, and the wind came and brought us to Thrinacia. I was able to forget the terrible sounds of the seas we had passed through, and to forget the sweet songs of the Sirens. But in the peace, another voice came back to me - Circe's.
Beautiful Circe! She told me how to sail safely between Scilla and Charybdis. She warned me against the Sirens, told me how to pass them without being lured to them, but she did not warn me against herself!
Oh goddess Circe! You are the real Siren! I listened to your voice and you have put your hooks in my heart like Scylla catching my men, and I can't escape. I am drawn deeper into the memory of your eyes as if into Charybdis' vortex. I would, if I could, sail back past all the dangers we have come through, to see and hear you again!
All I can do is wait for the wind to change and sail home to Ithaca, further and further away from her. When I am working my land, out of sight of the sea, perhaps her voice will fade from my mind. Only then will my heart be free from the snares of that beautiful siren Circe.