Circe by Madeline Miller – a Chance For Philosophical Discussion
Omiros, in his famous book Odyssey, referred to the myth of Circe, a weird woman who had the ability to change the shape of anything she found on her way and convert its form and future. She could turn a human being into a pig or a dog into a statue with no ability to move. Until Circe changed her mind, any living creature would have to live according to Circe’s choices. Circe was something like a witch and was presented as a character that was not eager to help people. A recent version of this myth written by Madeline Miller presents Circe as a powerful woman with feminist beliefs. According to the writer, Circe is not resentful, but she is neither willing to give up on her well-being. In any case, the phenomenon gained a lot of attention, and the idea of a person with superficial powers that is able to change others is attractive.
If we had this possibility, it would be a great source of knowledge for us. Consider the opportunity to be able to talk with a dog as if it was a human. Can you imagine how many interesting and valuable things you could find out after such a conversation?
Now let’s think how things would be if they happened the other way round, meaning that we could turn to be dogs and live among their herd. We would be the outsiders thinking we are wiser. However, dogs would not think about it that way, and perhaps they would not be wrong.
While this is fiction, it can provide a unique way of thinking. Try to transfer this vision we pictured into a more realistic scenario. For instance, picture yourself being in another country in the company of total strangers that have nothing in common with you. At first, everything they do will look weird to you. However, according to them, it makes perfect sense, and no matter how strongly we believe we are right about something, there is not only one way to see things. Different perspectives exist to remind us that truth is the creature of our character and thoughts.
Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, said that the fate of someone is their character, and this could be closer to a universal truth. Everyone creates a different environment in their minds, and they live their lives based on that. This is actually inevitable since we all grow in different environments and with different genes. Therefore, there is nothing that we have that could possibly be the same as what someone else has.
Having an ability like that comes with great responsibility. Just like we mentioned before, being able to do such a thing sounds like something only God would be able to do. People have turned to God long before writing, or other achievements appeared. The reason for that was that the particular concept would serve them nicely. Praying would secure the crops and therefore living. As the ages passed by, the powerful creature they had invented could do other things as well. God can forgive, but God can also punish. According to people, therefore, God was able to do good, but he was also capable of being ”bad” and hurting people when they did not deserve his love. At least, this is how most ancient religions conceived God. Therefore, the idea of Circe did not come out all of a sudden. Most Gods in ancient Greece looked much like people. They, of course, had superpowers, but they would get angry, sad, and generally experience anything an average person can experience.
We may not be Gods, but we have power, and we have an impact on the world or at least our close family. We can, therefore, use our power to help and heal, or we can use it to harm and destroy. We do not have to be Circe to have an impact; we are powerful already; it is just that sometimes we have no awareness of how much we can influence other people’s lives. When Circe decided to change the shape and form of a person, that person could suffer, spending their life as an animal or whatever. If you were Circe, what would you do? Would you change things for the best, or would you try to take revenge for certain situations? Often having power comes with the price of having great responsibilities. Perhaps, visualizing how things would be if we were more powerful is not as wise as we believe.
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