BRAY, Salomon de
(b. 1597, Amsterdam, d. 1664, Haarlem)

Odysseus and Circe

1650-55
Oil on canvas, 11 x 92 cm
Private collection

De Bray based his picture directly on Homer's Odyssey. Circe is a sorceress whom Odysseus encountered on his wanderings. The Greek hero and his companions came to Circe's island on their journey home after the Trojan war. It was her way with travellers to feast them on viands containing a magic potion which turned them into pigs. This was the fate of some of Odysseus' companions. But he himself, forewarned by Mercury, touches neither food nor drink. This is the scene Salomon de Bray depicted.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 13 minutes):
Claudio Monteverdi: Il ritorno d'Ulisse, Act I, Duet of Odysseus and Pallas Athene