Not So Delicate - A Circe Book Club

  • Posted on: 30 July 2020
  • By: Michelle Brightwell

To ancient people, myths were not pieces of fiction used as allegory. Myths were the way they explained human nature, natural phenomenon, and how to overcome difficulties in time of strife. In the 4th century AD, the Roman philosopher Sallustius wrote that “myths were things that never happened, but always are”. He wrote about the use of mythology in an age where Roman popular thinking was moving away from mysticism and mythology and towards philosophy and science. Sallustius believed that mythology shouldn’t be left behind as a relic of a bygone era, but should be taught to all as a foundation of what he called “common conceptions”, or the body of knowledge that all Romans should know and be able to draw from.

The stories have endured because they help people find their place in the world. They are designed to help us cope with the problems of the human predicament. It’s an eternal human desire to know where we came from and our purpose in the world, and mythology helps us sort through that desire. We want to be transported beyond our ordinary concerns. With the help of Mythology, we can avoid tragedy and learn from the mistakes of the gods and heroes. Myths provide knowledge and wisdom to carry with us as we embark on our own journeys. 

Like our prehistoric ancestors sharing their stories on the walls of caves, modern people need sanctuary away from the madness. I know that I need that sanctuary now as much as I ever have in my lifetime. We have spent our time since March socially distant, and in some cases isolated, from our regular lives, our regular people, and our sense of normalcy.

Next week, we will be embarking on an odyssey into Madeline Miller’s Circe. Miller, a classicist, was always fascinated by the small snippet of Circe’s life we were given in the Odyssey – the small part of Odysseus’ journey that he spent on her island, maybe falling in love with her. Miller then took her knowledge of Greek mythology and crafted a rich life for Circe, weaving in other well-known myths to Circe’s long life. Miller’s prose is beautiful, and the story is flush with insights about human nature.

There are two ways you can join in on the discussion! On Monday morning, August 3, you can find discussion questions regarding chapters 1-5 on the HMCPL Goodreads Page. Then, on Wednesday evening, August 5, at 6:30 pm, we will come together virtually via Zoom to discuss chapters 1-5. You can find the Zoom meeting details on the Facebook event page, or at the bottom of this post. All are welcome – no library card required (though we hope you consider becoming a library patron!). I hope to see you there!

Zoom meeting information:
Topic: Not So Delicate - A Circe Book Club Week 1, chapters 1-5
Time: Aug 5, 2020 06:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)Join Zoom Meeting ID: 950 1857 4053
Passcode: CIRCE
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