Circean poison

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After the Greek mythological figure of Circe, who (in the The Odyssey) tempted men to excess before turning them into pigs.


Circean poison (uncountable)

  1. A poison or potion that changes the body but not the mind.
    • 1926, in Essays in memory of Barrett Wendell, page 77:
      And the riven Tree in the West withered; and the broken Car was changed by the Circean poison of the golden plumes into a two-natured monster, half-bird, half-beast — a mockery of the holy Griffin.
  2. Anything magically (and fatally) captivating, such as a potion or applause.
    • 1834, Thomas Carlyle, "The Death of Edward Irving," essay from Fraser's Magazine 61 (1834)[1]:
      O foulest Circean draught, thou poison of Popular Applause! madness is in thee, and death; thy end is Bedlam and the Grave.
    • 1878, John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, page 242:
      "Is not this herd," he continues, "worse than Circean poison?"
    • 1908, John Ruskin, St. Mark's Rest: The History of Venice Written for the Help of the Few ..., page 236:
      So soon the worm that dies not is also upon him—in its fang Circean poison to make the victim one with his plague...