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Circe

Circe

A Novel

Book - 2018
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Quotes (35)

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ArapahoeTina Nov 03, 2019

Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.

ArapahoeTina Nov 03, 2019

He showed me his scars, and in return he Let me pretend that I had none.

a
ambdizzle
Sep 26, 2019

But most of all my father’s voice, speaking those words like trash he dropped. Such as you. Any other day in all my years of life I would have curled upon myself and wept. But that day his scorn was like a spark falling on dry tinder.

t
tamun
Sep 06, 2019

“Witches are not so delicate.”

t
tamun
Sep 06, 2019

“You have always been the worst of my children,” he said. “Be sure to not dishonor me.”
“I have a better idea. I will do as I please, and when you count your children, leave me out.”

t
tamun
Sep 06, 2019

“Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.”

t
tamun
Sep 06, 2019

“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”

m
m0mmyl00
Aug 12, 2019

Pg. 273 of the hardcover, “It is youth’s gift not to feel its debts.”
Pg. 311 of the hardcover, “But perhaps no parent can truly see their child. When we look we see only the mirror of our own faults.”

q
queensthief
Feb 12, 2019

But perhaps no parent can truly see their child. When we look we see only the mirror of our own faults.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

WHEN I WAS BORN, the name for what I was did not exist. They called me nymph, assuming I would be like my mother and aunts and thousand cousins. Least of the lesser goddesses, our powers were so modest they could scarcely ensure our eternities. We spoke to fish and nurtured flowers, coaxed drops from the clouds or salt from the waves. That word, nymph, paced out the length and breadth of our futures. In our language, it means not just goddess, but bride.
===
See her arrange her dress so it drapes just so over her shoulders. I see her dab her fingers, glinting, in the water. I have seen her do a thousand such tricks a thousand times. My father always fell for them. He believed the world’s natural order was to please him.
===

Once when I was young I asked what mortals looked like. My father said, “You may say they are shaped like us, but only as the worm is shaped like the whale.” My mother had been simpler: like savage bags of rotten flesh.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

“It is not fair,” I said. “It cannot be.” “Those are two different things , ” my grandmother said .
===
The slender dryads flowed out of their forests, and the stony reads ran down from their crags. My mother was there with her naiad sisters; the horse-shouldered river-gods crowded in beside the fish-White Sea-nymphs and their lords of salt. Even the great Titans came: my father, of course, and Oceanus, but also shape-shifting Proteus and Nares of the Sea; my aunt Selene, who drives her silver horses across the night sky; and the four Winds led by my icy uncle Boreas.
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Her cruelty springs fast as weeds and must any moment be cut again.
===
Circe is dull as a rock. Circe has less wit than bare ground. Circe’s hair is matted like a dog’s. If I have to hear that broken voice of hers once more. Of all our children, why must it be she who is left? No one else will have her.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

What could make a god afraid? I knew that answer too. A power greater than their own.
===
Helios flattered himself that all women went eager to his bed, slave girls and divinities alike. His altars smoked with the proof, offerings from big-bellied mothers and happy by-blows.
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“Circe,” he said, when he saw me. Just that, as if you might say: foot.
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All I knew was that I hated her. For I was like any dull ass who has ever loved someone who loved another.
===

===

“Pharmacies,” I said. Witch.
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“Sorcery cannot be taught. You find it yourself, or you do not. ”
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Even the most beautiful nymph is largely useless, and an ugly one would be nothing, less than nothing.
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Too late for all the things I should have known. I had made so many mistakes that I could not find my way back through their tangle to the first one.
===
Watching Zeus and Helios negotiate is always good entertainment. Like two volcanoes trying to decide if they should blow.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

“Tell me,” he said, “who gives better offerings, a miserable man or a happy one?” “A happy one, of course.” “Wrong,” he said. “A happy man is too occupied with his life. He thinks he is beholden to no one. But make him shiver, kill his wife, cripple his child, then you will hear from him. He will starve his family for a month to buy you a pure - white yearling calf. If he can afford it, he will buy you a hundred. ” “But surely,” I said, “you have to reward him eventually. Otherwise, he will stop offering. ” “Oh, you would be surprised how long he will go on. But yes, in the end, it’s best to give him something. Then he will be happy again. And you can start over. ”
===
Most gods and mortals have lives that are tied to nothing; they tangle and wend now here, now there, according to no set plan. But then there are those who wear their destinies like nooses, whose lives run straight as planks, however they try to twist. It is these that our prophets may see.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

This was how mortals found fame, I thought. Through practice and diligence, tending their skills like gardens until they glowed beneath the sun. But gods are born of ichor and nectar, their excellences already bursting from their fingertips. So they find their fame by proving what they can mar: destroying cities, starting wars, breeding plagues and monsters.
===

You see what a honeycomb the palace is beneath. There are a hundred storerooms that go unused, for all the wealth of Crete is in gold these days, not grain. I think I may make them into a sort of maze. Close it at both ends and let the creature roam. It is all dug in the bedrock, so there will be nowhere to break
===

For once in your twisting life, speak the truth. You brought me here to make me your fool. ” “Oh, that requires no effort from me,” she said. “ You are a fool on your own. ” But it was reflexive, not a real answer. I waited.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.
===
I pressed as close as he would let me, like a lizard to noonday rocks.
===
Rage and grief, thwarted desire, lust, self-pity: these are emotions gods know well. But guilt and shame, remorse, ambivalence, those are foreign countries to our kind, which must be learned stone by stone.
===

Every moment mortals died, by shipwreck and sword, by wild beasts and wild men, by illness, neglect, and age. It was their fate, as Prometheus had told me, the story that they all shared. No matter how vivid they were in life, no matter how brilliant, no matter the wonders they made, they came to dust and smoke.
===

Each of her features alone was nothing, her nose too sharp, and her chin over - strong. Yet together they made a whole like the heart of a flame.
===
How many of us would be granted pardon if our true hearts were known?

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

A man wants a wife like new grass, fresh and green. ”
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“A witch,” I said. “With unbound power. Who need answer to none but herself? ”
===
Sons were not punished.
===
After so long amid only the smooth sameness of nymphs, each imperfection was a pleasure: the lines around their eyes, the scabs on their legs, the fingers broken off at the knuckle. I drank in their threadbare clothes, their worn faces. These were not heroes, or the crew of a king. They must scrabble for their livelihoods as Glaucous once did: hauling nets, carrying odd cargo, hunting down whatever dinner they could find. I felt a warmth run through me. My fingers itched as if for needle and thread. Here was something torn that I could mend.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

Maybe the true surprise, I thought, was that it had not happened sooner. My uncles’ eyes used to crawl over me as I poured their wine. Their hands found their way to my flesh. A pinch, a stroke, a hand slipping under the sleeve of my dress. They all had wives, it was not marriage they thought of. One of them would have come for me in the end and paid my father well. Honor on all sides.
===

Give me the honest asp, who strikes me if I trouble him and not before.
===
You should appreciate a pig’s advantages. Mud - slick and swift, they are hard to catch. Low to the ground, they cannot easily be knocked over. They are not like dogs, they do not need your love. They can thrive anywhere, on anything, scraps and trash. They look witless and dull, which lulls their enemies, but they are clever. They will remember your face. They never listened. The truth is, men make terrible pigs.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

“Your wife sounds like a clever woman.” “She is. I cannot account for the fact that she married me, but since it is to my benefit, I try not to bring it to her attention. ”
===
He had already noted for himself that there was no man’s cloak hanging by the door, no hunter’s bow, and no shepherd’s staff. No sign of brothers or fathers or sons, no vengeance that would follow after. If I were valuable to anyone, I would not be allowed to live alone.
===

“War has always seemed to me a foolish choice for men. Whatever they win from it, they will have only a handful of years to enjoy before they die. More likely they will perish trying. ” “Well, there is the matter of glory. But I wish you could’ve spoken to our general. You might have saved us all a lot of trouble. ” “What was the fight over?” “Let me see if I can remember the list.” He ticked his fingers. “Vengeance. Lust. Hubris. Greed. Power. What have I forgotten? Ah yes, vanity, and pique. ”

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.
===

Would I be skimmed milk or a harpy? A foolish gull or a villainous monster? Those could not still be the only choices.
===

“Imagine such a happiness. Like drinking wine your whole life, instead of water. Like having Achilles to run your errands. ”
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Even the best iron grows brittle with too much beating.
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It was a trick of his, to set a sentence out like a plate on a table and see what you would put on it.
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Every moment of my peace was a lie, for it came only at the gods’ pleasure. No matter what I did, how long I lived, at a whim they would be able to reach down and do with me what they wished.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

“The generals take the credit, of course, and indeed they provide the gold. But they are always calling you into their tent and asking for reports of what you’re doing instead of letting you go do it. The songs say it is heroes. They are another piece. When Achilles puts on his helmet and cleaves his red path through the field, the hearts of common men swell in their chests. They think of the stories that will be told, and they long to be in them. ... Those soldiers, of course, are yet another piece, for though they are weak and unsteady, when they are harnessed together they will carry you to victory. But there is a hand that must gather all those pieces and make them whole. A mind to guide the purpose, and not flinch from war’s necessities. ”
===

Living with him was like standing beside the sea. Each day a different color, a different foam - capped height, but always the same restless intensity pulling towards the horizon.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

I took them to war before they could do any of those things that steady a man. They were unmarried when they left. They had no children. They had no years of lean harvest, when they must scrape the bottom of their stores, and no good years either, that they might learn to save. They have not seen their parents grow old and begin to fail. They have not seen them die. I fear I have robbed them not only of their youth but their age as well. ”
===

I would never marry, because my hands were dirty, and I liked my work too much. But this was a man with his own dirty hands.
===

It is a son’s highest duty to avenge his father.
===

His words carried no malice. Though perhaps that was what malice sounded like in those perfect tones.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

Odysseus, son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks and a thousand ways. He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.
===
I did not go easy to motherhood. I faced it as soldiers face their enemies, girded and braced, sword up against the coming blows. Yet all my preparations were not enough.
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Is it not wiser to give him to me now, when he is barely set into the world, when his flesh and your affections are still half formed? ” Her voice softened. “ Imagine how much worse it will be for you in a year, or two, or ten, when your love is full - grown. Better to send him easy to the house of souls now. Better to bear another child and begin to forget with new joys. No mother should have to see her child’s death. And yet, if such must come, if there is no other way, still

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

I was used to unhappiness, formless and opaque, stretching out to every horizon. But this had shores, depths, a purpose and a shape. There was hope in it, for it would end, and bring me my child. My son. For whether by witchcraft or prophetic blood, that is what I knew he was. He grew, and his fragility grew with him. I had never been so glad of my immortal flesh, layered like armor around him. I was giddy feeling his first kicks and I spoke to him every moment, as I crushed my herbs, as I cut clothes for his body, wove his cradle out of rushes. I imagined him walking beside me, the child and boy and man that he would be. I would show him all the wonders I had gathered for him, this island and its sky, the fruits and sheep, the waves and lions. The perfect solitude that would never be loneliness again. I touched my hand to my belly. Your father said once that he wanted more children, but that is not why you live. You are for me.

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

I made a list of all the things I would do for him. Scald off my skin. Tear out my eyes. Walk my feet to bones, if only he would be happy and well.
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Her only love was reason. And that has never been the same as wisdom. Children are not sacks of grain, to be substituted one for the other.
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A thousand years I had lived, but they did not feel as long as Telegonous’ childhood. I had prayed that he would speak early, but then I was sorry for it, since it only gave voice to his storms. No, no, no, he cried, wrenching away from me. And then, a moment later, he would climb over my lap, shouting Mother until my ears ached.
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“You want me to treat you like a man, but you act like a child.
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She is reasonable, but no woman is happy with her husband’s by - blow at her feet

j
jimg2000
Jan 26, 2019

There is no must to the life of a mortal, except death.
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I thought: I cannot bear this world a moment longer. Then, child, make another.
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Three hundred years and more had passed since I had come. The oak that creaked over my head I had known as a sapling. The beach ebbed and flowed, its curves changing with every winter season. Even the cliffs were different, carved by the rain and wind, by the claws of countless scrabbling lizards, by the seeds that stuck and sprouted in their cracks. Everything was united by the steady rise and fall of nature’s breath.
===

The Fates were laughing at me, at Athena, at all of us. It was their favorite bitter joke: those who fight against prophecy only draw it more tightly around their throats.


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