In Greek mythology, Aeaea, or Aiaia, was the home of the sorceress Circe.

Though the somewhat inconsistent geography of the Odyssey is more mythic than literal, Aeaea was later identified by classical Roman writers with mount Circeo on Cape Circaeum on the western coast of Italy - circa 100 km south of Rome - which may have looked like an island due to the marshes and sea surrounding its base but it is, in fact, a small peninsula. It was already a peninsula in the days of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, according to his work. However, it may have been still an island in the days of Circe, with a long "lido" or sandy peninsula that gradually became attached to the mainland, in a common geological process.

The cave of Circe the sorceress still exists here, known today as "Grotta della Maga Circe."

Before leaving Aeaea, Odysseus was given instructions by Circe on how to travel to the underworld.

Odyssey Book 10

'Circe, who'll be the guide on such a journey?
No one ever sailed a black ship down to Hades.'

"The lovely goddess gave me a quick answer:
'Resourceful Odysseus, Laertes' son
and Zeus' child, don't concern yourself
about a pilot for your ship.  Raise the mast,
spread your white sail, and just take your seat.
Then the breath of North Wind Boreas
will take you on your way.  But once your ship
crosses flowing Oceanus, drag it ashore  
at Persephone's groves, on the level beach,
where tall poplars grow, willows shed their fruit, 
right beside deep swirling Oceanus.*
Then you must go to Hades' murky home.

Other hypothetical locations of Aeaea

  • Robert Graves (The Greek Myths) identifies the island of Lussin near mouth of the Po in the North Adriatic Sea as Aeaea.
  • Tim Severin (The Ulyssess Voyage) identifies the island of Paxos in the Ionian Sea near the Greek coast as Aeaea.
  • Iman Wilkens (Where Troy Once Stood) identifies the island of Schouwen at the delta formed by the rivers Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt as Aeaea.

Mythology Images

Retrieved from ""
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License