Question 2 Sample Answer.pdf

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Jonathan Tracy

Question 2 Sample Answer Chosen Name: Circe Circe is the divine enchantress on the island of Aeaea who, in Book 10 of the Odyssey, magically turns Odysseus’ men into swine, and then tries to do the same to Odysseus himself; he escapes the trap with divine aid and forces Circe to become instead a helper and refuge for himself and his men on their journey back to Ithaca. She entertains them for a year and gives Odysseus useful advice about various perils and adventures (his visit to the Underworld, Scylla and Charbydis, and so on). The Circe story illustrates the key heroic value of self-restraint in the Odyssey. Odysseus’ men are incapable of resisting the allure of Circe’s beautiful form and voice and her exotic potion; this lack of self-restraint (a quality that elevates humans above animals), with regard to food (Circe’s potion) and sex (Circe herself), results in the crewmen being physically reduced to animals. Lack of self-restraint will then doom the crew on the island of Thrinacia (Book 12), when they consume the forbidden cattle of the Sun-God, just as it doomed them in Book 9 during the clash with the Cicones (when Odysseus begged them to leave before being attacked, but they were too caught up in their feasting to listen). Odysseus himself escapes Circe’s wiles through the display of classic heroic qualities: he plans ahead (he consumes the magic herb to protect himself), as he does when plotting the suitors’ downfall through the contest of the bow or plotting his escape from the Cyclops’ cave; he conceals his invulnerability and power from Circe until the right moment (as with humble beggar’s disguise that he dons to infiltrate the suitors); and he follows the gods’ advice, in the form of Hermes’ instructions (unlike the suitors, who ignore repeated warnings about the gods’ will). Odysseus also demonstrates sexual self-restraint in refusing to enter Circe’s bed until he obtains an oath from her that she will do him no harm; this is in contrast to the lack of sexual self-restraint displayed by the suitors and Aegisthus, who are all (in the end) destroyed by their illicit wooing of a forbidden female. Odys
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