Circe by Madeline Miller: Book Cover Designs

Circe‘ was published in 2018, and before this, accolades had abundantly flowed in Madeline Miller’s way for ‘The Song of Achilles’. The metallic bronze of the headgear on the cover of ‘The Song of Achilles’ worked wonders and the same shade spreads across the whole of Circe’s cover.

The book cover of ‘Circe’ simply stands out. Wherever you see the book, you are sure to be mesmerized by this enticing cover.

A bit about ‘Circe

Circe is a retelling of this vilified character from ‘The Odyssey’ by Homer. Madeline Miller turns around Circe’s character a complete 360 degrees and makes her more humane and loving. And, the most important underlying theme in the book is feminism. You cannot ignore how ‘Circe’ is built brick by brick into a strong character, withstanding her ignored childhood, banished adulthood and life as a single parent.

A birth in the palace of the Gods doesn’t guarantee Circe a berth among the privileged Gods. She is born of a nymph, heeding her powerless as compared to the pure Gods. Circe’s name means ‘Hawk’ as she possesses yellow eyes and a human voice (that none of the Gods ever wanted to hear). She grows up lonely, neglected and mocked by her siblings for her physical attributes and disadvantages.

Circe’s first solace comes in the form of Aeetes, her brother who later leaves her. Then it is Glaucus, a fisherman for whom Circe goes a great deal. And, yet, she receives nothing but treachery. It is the love for Glaucus, a mortal that leads Circe on the path of ‘pharmaka’ – using magical herbs and spells to master sorcery.

The exile in Aiaia Island is the turning point in Circe’s life, she becomes herself, the Goddess wielding the power to control beasts, cast magical spells and foresee prophecy.

Book Cover of My Copy

My copy of ‘Circe’ has the rich copper central portion with forest elements done in black on either side. At the first look, this seems like a floral or leaf pattern. But a closer look and you see the details of it. It is Circe on two sides of the text on the cover with the wild creatures spread across this desolate island. In ‘The Odyssey’ by Homer, Circe’s character is limited to the time Ulysses and his men take refuge in Aiaia Island. Circe poses a threat to Ulysses as she relishes the joy of turning men into pigs and taming them as her pets in Homer’s narration. Perhaps the two identical figurines mean the two opposite interpretations of Circe’s character.

The UK edition cover is devoid of any reference to Circe in illustration, it presents entwined leaves, branches and white flowers against the copper background.

In the US edition of the book, the cover has the face of ‘Circe’, the Greek Goddess sketched in black against the copper background. This cover was selected as one of the New York Times’ 12 Best Book Covers of 2018.

Interestingly, none of the three covers bring in the characters that were otherwise thought to be more important than Circe in ‘The Odyssey’. Should one have tried putting Ulysses in bliss with Circe on Aiaia Island? Or, maybe Circe with her wild pigs working on the loom or taming Minotaur?

You may like the Book Review of Circe by Madeline Miller

23 thoughts on “Circe by Madeline Miller: Book Cover Designs

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