Madeline Miller’s retelling of the story of Circe is lyrical and the voice she spun is very scintillating, hypnotizing even the readers who are least inclined to read Greek mythology. True enough, Miller did little to alter or put a different perspective into Circe’s story but it did more than enough to fascinate me as a reader (or perhaps because I love mythology so much). In most instances, characters are demonized but the case is otherwise for this novel as Circe was unmasked beyond her reputation as a wily witch.

Besides being a wonderful read, the book is also a well for some memorable lines, ranging from commentaries on the Greek gods to being a parent. Here are some of the quotes that I have rounded up from Circe. Happy reading!

If you haven’t read my review of Madeline Miller’s Circe, you may click on this link.

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“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. All that smoke and savor rising so delicately from our altars. It leaves only ash behind.”

Madeline Miller, Circe

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“Such is the commander’s lot. Such is the folly of humanity. Is it not our human tragedy that some men must be beaten like donkeys before they will see reason.”

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“I asked her how she did it once, how she understood the world so clearly. She told me that it was a matter of keeping very still and showing no emotions, leaving room for others to reveal themselves.”

~ Circe, Madeline Miller

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

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.”

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“I thought once that gods are the opposite of death, but I see now they are more dead than anything. For they are unchanging, and can hold nothing in their hands.”

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“No, I thought I was not careful. I was reckless, headlong. He was another knife, I could feel it. A different sort, but a knife still. I did not care. I thought: give me the blade. Some things are worth spilling blood for.”

Circe, Madeline Miller

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

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“That is what exile meant: no one was coming, no one ever would. There was fear in that knowledge, but after my long night of terrors it felt small and inconsequential. The worst of my cowardice had been sweated out. In its place was a giddy spark. I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.”

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“I listen to his breath, warm upon the night air, and somehow I am comforted. He does not mean that it does not hurt. He does not mean that we are not frightened. Only that we are here. This is what it means to swim in the tide, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. This is what it means to be alive.”

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“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.”

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“Each man or woman who passed, she knew their story and could tell it to me for she said that you must understand people of you would rule the,.”

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“It was so simple. If you want it, I will do it. If it would make you happy, I will go with you. Is there a moment that a heart cracks? But a cracked heart was not enough, and I had grown wise enough to know.”

Circe, Madeline Miller

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“Some walked hand in hand with those they had loved in life; some waited, secure that one day their beloved would come. And for those who had not loved, whose lives had been filled with paid and horror, there was the black river Lethe, where one might drink and forget. Some consolation.”

Circe, Madeline Miller


Dear readers, these are just some of the memorable lines from the novel. How about you, what lines struck you? You can share it to me in the comment box.

~ CLB

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