Conversation with Telemachus

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This is an excerpt from the book Circe by Madeline Miller.

‘And your mother? What did she think?’

’I do not claim to know what my mother thinks.’ His voices had stiffened. They had not spoken to each other all night, I remembered.

’She brought you up herself. You must have some idea.’

’There is no one who can guess what my mother is doing until it is done.’ There was not just stiffness in his voice now but bitterness. I waited. I had begun to see that silence prompted him better than words.

’There was a time we shared every confidence,’ he said. ‘We plotted each night’s strategy against the suitors together, if she should come down or not, speak haughtily or conciliate, if I should bring out the good wine, if we should stage for them some confrontation. When I was a child we were together every day. She would take me swimming, and afterwards we would sit beneath a tree and watch the people of Ithaca go about their business. Each man or woman who passed, she knew their history and would tell it to me, for she said that you must understand people if you would rule them.’

Telemachus’ gaze was fixed upon the air. The firelight picked out a crook in his nose I had not noticed before. An old break.

’Whenever I fretted for my father’s safety, she would shake her head. “Never fear for him. He is too clever to be killed, for he knows all the tricks of men’s hearts, and how to turn them to his advantage. He will survive the war and return home again.” And I was comforted, for what my mother said always came to pass.’

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Circe – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child – not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power – the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Copyright © 2018 by Madeline Miller.

More details on Goodreads can be found here.

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