Circe, Madeline Miller (2018)
Genre: Greek Mythology, Fantasy
Circe is a feminist retelling of Homer’s Odyssey. While the classic epic poem written by Homer revolves around Odysseus, the revered Greek hero of the Trojan War and his journey back to his kingdom of Ithaca during which he briefly meets the nymph goddess, Circe, Miller’s version deals with Circe as the protagonist rather than Odysseus. On one level, the book deals with the value we place on the roles of being a good daughter, wife and mother. In this episode we will center the discussion around these roles and how the domestic labour of women is often unseen and unvalued, and how housewives, despite having very little time to themselves all day, are dismissed for not being ‘productive’ members of the economy. The discussion of Circe also allows us to talk about the way women’s goals, needs and wants are often seen as less valid and uninspiring, and how women’s issues are often sidelined and given little attention by society in general.
Underlying this is the discussion that women themselves undervalue domestic work and are also guilty of judging other women for their choices. In conversations about female agency there is always that bigger issue of wanting women to rise up and be some kind of Wonder Woman, do heroic things as is defined by masculine ideals. We further explore how daily life in which women play a huge role is never considered ‘heroic’.
Content warnings (for the book): Short passages containing a few instances of sex, murder, torture, rape (none of which is graphic), minimal swearing. The violence and sex in Circe is told in a matter-of-fact manner (the narrative focuses on Circe’s emotional and physical response and does not describe the act in detail).