“Circe” by Madeline Miller

I had a little pride, as I have said, and that was good. More would have been fatal.

Each spell was a mountain to be climbed anew. All I could carry with me from last time was the knowledge that it could be done.

“Tell me,” he said, “who gives better offerings, a miserable man or a happy one?”

“A happy one, of course.”

“Wrong,” he said. “A happy man is too occupied with his life. He thinks he is beholden to no one. But make him shiver, kill his wife, cripple his child, then you will hear from him. He will starve his family for a month to buy you a pure-white yearling calf. If he can afford it, he will buy you a hundred.

“Can no one stop her?”

“Zeus could, or your father, if they wished to. But why would they? Monsters are a boon to gods. Imagine all the prayers.

Did he know how much those words cost me? I do not think he could. It is youth’s gift not to feel its debts.

Those who fight against prophecy only draw it more tightly around their throats.

But perhaps no parent can truly see their child. When we look we see only the mirror of our faults.

I remembered what Odysseus had said about her once. That she never went astray, never made an error. I had been jealous then. Now I thought: what a burden. What an ugly weight upon your back.