MAKING PAGANISM SEXY – TOP 10 CLASSICAL BAD GIRLS: (6) CIRCE & CALYPSO (SIRENS)
And now for the bad girl goddesses of the Odyssey, Circe and Calypso (tied in sixth place, but if I had to choose between them, I’d place Circe). Circe was daughter of Helios, god of the sun, and divine enchantress on the poetically named island of Aeaea. She used her magic to transform men into animals, changing Odysseus’ crew into pigs (no surprise there really). Fortunately, Odysseus was made of stronger stuff as he set out to rescue his men with a little help from the gods – he resists her magic and has her swear him no harm by the gods. She changed his crew back and they stayed on Aeaea for a year, while she and Odysseus became lovers (so much for Penelope, although in fairness to Odysseus, it is dangerous to get on the wrong side of a goddess). At the end of the year, she helped him with advice for his quest back home (through the underworld). She has continued to be a model femme fatale for Western art and literature, not least as the immortal adversary of DC Comics’ Wonder Woman…
On the other hand, Calypso was a nereid or sea-nymph on the island of Ogygia, who kept Odysseus ‘captive’ as her lover even longer on her island – for seven years (the large majority of the ten years of his odyssey to return home). Again, so much for Penelope, but these goddesses are tricky, and in fairness to Odysseus, she wanted to make him her immortal husband but he pined for his mortal life with Penelope – “now he’s left to pine on an island, wracked with grief”. Again it takes the intervention of the gods to release him, and she sorrowfully sends him back on his way home.
Close runners-up are those other bad girl goddesses of the Odyssey – the Sirens, who lured men to death with their beautiful voices or siren song. Forewarned, Odysseus ordered his crew to deafen themselves by placing wax in their ears – although he had himself tied to the mast to hear their song. Interestingly, Homer depicted them as horrific bird-women in appearance. (“It is strange and beautiful that Homer should make the Sirens appeal to the spirit, not the flesh”). Subsequently, however, they were depicted as beautiful women or mermaids, whose bodies were as seductive as their voices, so much so that the word has passed into common usage for seductive females, especially in cinema (directly invoked as the singing sirens in the Coen Brothers adaptation of the Odyssey, O Brother Where Art Thou?).
TOP 10 CLASSICAL BAD GIRLS
LIKE THIS? CHECK OUT MY TOP 10 BIBLICAL BAD GIRLS