The Power of Moly

The Power of Moly

How Homer teaches us to embrace the unknown
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My very first article concerned the way Homer invited his audience to feel sympathy for the cyclops Polyphemus in The Odyssey. In the Circe episode, the mysterious substance called 'moly' offers Odysseus a chance to make peace with the unknown, unlike the encounter with Polyphemus.

While on Circe’s island, Odysseus needs protection from her magic after it is reported that she has transformed some of his men into pigs. Conveniently, the god Hermes appears at just the right time, before Odysseus goes to confront Circe personally. Hermes gives him an herb called moly that will allow Odysseus to resist Circe’s magic, telling him only that it is “dangerous for a mortal man to pluck from the soil but not for deathless gods. All lies within their power” (line 339-41). It’s unclear if Odysseus had to eat it, mix it in a drink, or if he just had to stick it in a pocket (assuming he had pockets), nor do we know how Circe missed the fact that he had the magical root on him. The important thing is that it works, canceling out the effect of the potion that would have changed him into a pig. As mentioned before, Circe is unaware of the presence of moly and exclaims that Odysseus has “a mind… no magic can enchant” (line 365). It could be that moly just had a placebo effect on Odysseus, that it only had an effect on him because Hermes, a god, said so. Who was Odysseus to argue with him? It could also be the fact that Hermes prophesied to Circe that Odysseus would come to her one day, and whatever the gods say will happen usually comes to pass in these stories.

Hermes giving Odysseus the moly

Readers get a basic idea of how moly is used, but there is no definition that adequately captures the symbolic nature of the word. The Oxford English Dictionary, usually an authoritative text in such cases, only defines it in literal terms as “a fabulous herb with magic powers”, as “a mythical herb white flowers and black roots”, and “a southern European plant related to the onion. These definitions bring us back to the symbolic meaning of moly. Odysseus would rather not use violence against a woman, and Circe’s magic isn’t working on him, so they are forced to try and find an understanding. This prompts Circe to invite Odysseus to “mount [her] bed and mix in the magic work love – we’ll breed deep trust between us” (lines 371-2). It should go without saying that they have chosen to make love and not war. Homer could have been making the point that violence is not always a viable solution in encounters with the strange and foreign, as it was in the case of Polyphemus, with whom humans could find no understanding. In the case of Circe, the unknown is dangerous, but a person can learn to embrace it, and even love it.

The Odyssey turns into a commercial for Axe body spray

Cover Image Credit: theoi.com

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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