Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses (1891) by John William Waterhouse
Exhibited at the New Gallery in 1891 (No. 153). Illustrated in the accompanying catalogue:
"Gauzy blue drapery. On the pavement at her feet violets are strewn. Behind her Ulysses advances, and his galleys are seen between the pillars."
On his return from the Trojan War, Ulysses sailed to the fantastic island of Aeaea inhabited by Circe, a beautiful but powerful sorceress. The land was crawling with swine, the metamorphosed forms of men seduced by her potent herbal brews.
Ulysses lost his entire crew to her charms, but armed with moly, a herb given to him by Hermes, he was able to withstand her spells and force her to release his men from their bestial shape.