Bk XIV:223-319 Ulysses and Circe.
Macareus spoke of how Aeolus ruled the Tuscan deep, Aeolus son of Hippotes, imprisoning the winds. Ulysses, the Dulichian leader, had received them from him, an amazing gift, fastened up, in a bull's hide bag. Sailing for nine days, with a favourable wind, Ulysses and his crew spied the homelands they sought, but when the tenth morning came, his comrades were conquered by greed and desire for their share: thinking the bag contained gold, they loosened the strings that tied up the winds. The ship was blown back over the waters, through which they had come, and, once more, entered King Aeolus's harbour.
"From there," Macareus said, "we came to the ancient city of Lamus, of the Laestrygonians: Antiphates was now king in that land. I was sent to him with two companions. One of my friends and myself, fleeing, barely reached safety. The third reddened the Laestrygonians' evil mouths with his blood. Antiphates chased us as we ran for it, urging his men on. They rushed us, hurling rocks and tree-trunks, drowning the men, and sinking the ships. The one which Ulysses himself, and I sailed in, escaped.
Mourning our lost companions, lamenting greatly, we came to that land you see, in the distance, (believe me the island I saw is best seen from a distance!) and I warn you, O most virtuous of Trojans, son of the goddess, (since the war is over now, I will not treat you as an enemy, Aeneas) shun the shores of Circe! We, likewise, beaching our vessel, refused to go on, remembering Antiphates, and savage Cyclops: but we were chosen by lot to explore the unknown place. I, and the loyal Polites, and also Eurylochus, and Elpenor, too fond of wine, and eighteen others of my comrades, were sent within Circe's walls.
We had no sooner arrived, and were standing on the threshold of her courts, when a thousand wolves, and mixed with the wolves, she-bears and lionesses rushed at us, filling us with terror. But there was nothing to be afraid of: none of them gave our bodies a single scratch. Why they even wagged their tails in the air with affection, and fawned on us, as they followed our footsteps, until female servants received us, and led us, through halls covered with marble, to their mistress.
She sat in a lovely inner room on her sacred throne, wearing a shining robe, covered over with a gold-embroidered veil. Nereids and nymphs were with her, who do not work wool with nimble fingers, nor, then, spin the thread: they arrange herbs, scattered without order, separating flowers and grasses of various colours, into baskets. She herself directs the work they do: she herself knows the use of each leaf, which kinds mix in harmony, examines them, and pays attention to the weighing of the herbs.
When she saw us, and words of welcome had been received, she smiled at us, and seemed to give a blessing to our desires. Without delay she ordered a drink to be blended, of malted barley, honey, strong wine, and curdled milk, to which she secretly added juices, that its sweetness would hide. We took the cup offered by her sacred hand. As soon as we had drained it, thirstily, with parched lips, the dread goddess touched the top of our hair with her wand, and then (I am ashamed, but I will tell you) I began to bristle with hair, unable to speak now, giving out hoarse grunts instead of words, and to fall forward, completely facing the ground.
I felt my mouth stiffening into a long snout, my neck swelling with brawn, and I made tracks on the ground, with the parts that had just now lifted the cup to my mouth. I was shut in a sty with the others in the same state (so much can magic drugs achieve!) We saw that only Eurylochus had escaped the transformation: the only one to avoid the proffered cup. If he had not refused, I would even now be one of the bristly herd, since Ulysses would not have heard of our plight from him, or come to Circe, as our avenger.
Peace-loving Cyllenian Mercury had given him the white flower, the gods call moly, that springs from a black root. With this, and divine warnings, he entered Circe's house in safety, and, when he was asked to drink from the fateful cup, he struck aside the wand, with which she tried to stroke his hair, and scared off the frightened goddess, with drawn sword. Then they gave their right hands to each other, as a pledge of good faith, and after being received into her bed as her husband, he asked for his friends true bodies to be restored, as a wedding gift.
We were sprinkled with the more virtuous juices of unknown herbs, our heads were stroked with the wand reversed, and the words, she had said, were pronounced, with the words said backwards. The more words she spoke, the more we stood erect, lifted from the ground. Our bristles fell away, our cloven hoofs lost their cleft, our shoulders reappeared, and below them were our upper and lower arms. Weeping we embraced him, as he wept himself, and clung to our leader's neck, and nothing was said until we had testified to our gratitude.
We stayed there for a year, and, in that length of time, I saw and heard many things. Here is one told me, in secret, by one of the four female servants, dedicated to those earlier tasks. While Circe was tarrying alone with our leader, the girl showed me the statue of a young man, carved out of snow-white marble, with a woodpecker's head on top. It stood in a holy temple, distinguished by many wreaths. I asked, as I wished to know, who it was, and why he was worshipped in a holy temple, and why he bore a bird's head. She said 'Listen, Macareus, and learn, as well, how great is my mistress's power: keep your mind on my words!' "