Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses 1891


Date: 1891
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 149 x 92 cm
Location: Gallery Oldham, Oldham, UK

This painting from the Greek myth of Circe, The Crystal Ball, is an example of a classical scene reinterpreted by John William Waterhouse. It shows Circe in a temple, with a cup raised to her. Waterhouse employed the same technique in Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses. The story of Circe and Ulysses is depicted in the painting. Waterhouse uses an open temple to tell the story. The cup that Circe holds up is the Hermes' herb, which is then offered to Ulysses.


In Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysesse by John William Waterhouse, the sorceress Circe offers Odysseus a potion in exchange for the cup of life. Before offering the cup, Circe has already possessed Ulysses' crew and is ready to offer the cup to her beloved. A mirror behind her throne shows Ulysses' reflection, which adds a little bit of mystery to the situation.

The composition of Waterhouse's Circe painting is highly symbolic. The wand and cup are held high, and Circe has a seated position on a throne. She is surrounded by purple flowers. Her throne has a golden seat and arms. The throne, the mirror, and the acanthus border add to the image of Circe's superiority.


Hermes and Circe Offering the Cup to the King of Athens, 1891 by John William Waterhouse is a famous painting in the classical Greek mythology. Circe, a goddess of love and war, is seen in the foreground holding a cup, while her rival Scylla is depicted in the background. The woman has a fearful expression, while Ulysses stands in the periphery of the frame, bent slightly.

This masterpiece was painted in an Art Nouveau style. It was a popular movement in the late 1800s that incorporated the natural forms of flowers and plants into architecture. The emergence of mass-production of designable consumer goods increased the importance of design. Waterhouse's painting is one of the most popular examples of this movement. The artist Karoly Jozsa, born in Budapest, studied in Munich, Paris, and Vienna. He worked in oil, pastel, and woodcut.

Seven sirens

This painting depicts Circe offering a cup to Ulysses. The woman in the painting has a milky white chest and dark features. Her posture suggests that she is powerful, as she leans forward to look up. She is sitting in a golden throne and is surrounded by purple flowers. The lions on her arms and throne are a reminder that Circe is the queen. In the background, a mirror, a throne, and armrests of her chair and wand give her a more opulent appearance.

In the background of the painting, Egyptian architecture serves as a background. The main figure is a dark-haired sorceress who chants while marking the circle around the cauldron. She also holds a druidical boline. The scene is reminiscent of a passage from Homer's Odyssey. Waterhouse used the same technique as Dante Rossetti to paint the Astarte Syriaca 1878.

Hermes' herb

“Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses” is a beautiful and haunting poem about the Greek goddess. It depicts the legendary encounter between ODYSSEUS and the famous sorceress CIRCE. CIRCE is a powerful woman who can change humans into animals. Hermes' herb is the key to avoiding the deadly spell cast by CIRCE.

Inspired by the story of Homer's Odyssey, Waterhouse created two paintings of Circe. The second painting depicts Circe offering a cup to Ulysses. This depiction of the sorceress is a powerful representation of the dangers of excess pleasure. The story of Circe's role in the Odyssey is very famous.

Hermes' position

Hermes' position in the engraving, “Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses,” is one of the most interesting aspects of the work. The image shows the nymph Circe in an open temple holding a cup, which she offers to Ulysses. This image is often compared to the depiction of the gods in the famous Homer's Odyssey.

Hermes, in the myth, had two alternatives to take Odysseus to Ithaca. One route was through the Wandering Rocks, the pumiceous Lipari Islands, where King Aeolus reigned. Odysseus was a father to three sons, Telegonus, Agrius, and Latinus. Although the names of Odysseus' children are unknown, they are all descendants of the aegean Sea.

Hermes' control

A famous example of a painting by John William Waterhouse is the Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysesse. It depicts the scene in which Circe poisons Ulysses and his crew. Circe is seated on a golden throne, with two lions resting on her arms. She is wearing a see-through turquoise dress, and she raises her arms in the air. Her large wand and cup are on her right hand, while a large round mirror at her side is used to show Ulysses approaching the Circe.

The painting was originally labeled Destiny. However, Waterhouse repainted the image as Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses in 1891, renaming it to honor the Greek mythological figure. While this work is not directly related to Circe, the story shows that Hermes has control over her in many ways. Her gaze, the bowl of liquid, and the open book with special knowledge are all reminiscent of Circe.