Circe, Lamia or Erinya - The Image of the Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


  • Edyta Szczurek-Maksymiuk Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland



Circe, Lamia or Erinya - The Image of the Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The aim of this article is to present a variety of inspirations and reception of ancient myths that affected the shaping of the Witches in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ by C.S. Lewis. Lewis purposefully mingled different traditions, believing that the most important classical myths carry a faint shadow of divine truth falling on human imagination. The most famous witches created by him: The White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle, have a great deal of sources in the literature, but they derive above all from ancient patterns, combining the features of, among others, Venus, Ishtar, Erinyes, Lamia and Circe. A comparative analysis of the mythological witches and those created by Lewis will demonstrate not only the complexity of their characters, but also the manner of his reception of antiquity.


Primary sources

Aischylos, 1926, Eumenides, translation by H. W. Smyth, Cambridge, MA.

Apollodorus, 1921, Library, translation by J. G. Frazer, Cambridge, MA, London. DOI:

Apollonius Rhodius, 1912, Argonautica, translated by R. C. Seaton, London.

Diodorus Siculus, 1954, Library, translated by Russel M. Geer, London.

Hesiod, 1914, Theogony, [in:] The Homeric Hymns and Homerica, translated by H. G. Evelyn-White, London.

Homer, 1919, Odyssey, translated by A.T. Murray, London. DOI:

Horace, 1863, Ars Poetica, [in:] The Works of Horace, translated by C. Smart, New York 1863.

Lewis C.S., 1979, Dymer, Canto II, 18-19, [in:] Narrative poems, ed. W. Hooper, Boston.

Lewis C.S., 1991, The Four Loves, Collins, Glasgow.

Lewis C.S., 2000, The Collected Letters. Volume I, ed. W. Hooper, HarperCollins, London.

Lewis C.S., 2004, The Collected Letters. Volume II, ed. W. Hooper, HarperCollins, London.

Lewis C.S., 2005, The Chronicles of Narnia, HarperCollins.

Lycophron, 1921, Alexandra [in:] Callimachus, Hymns and Epigrams. Lycophron. Aratus, translated by Mair, A. W. & G. R., London. DOI:

Pausanias, 1918, Description of Greece, translated by W.H.S. Jones, D. Litt and H.A. Ormerod, Cambridge, MA, London. DOI:

Secondary sources

Anderson D.A., 2008, Tales Before Narnia. The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction, New York.

Bettelheim B., 1996, Cudowne i pożyteczne. O znaczeniach i wartościach baśni, przeł. D. Danek, Warszawa.

Chadwick J., Ventris M., 1974, Documents in Mycenean Greek Second Edition, Cambridge.

Colbert D., 2005, The Magical Worlds of Narnia: A Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts, New York.

Downing D.C., 2006, Wyprawa w głąb szafy. Opowieści z Narnii i ich twórca, przeł. P. Szymczak, Poznań.

Ford P.F., 2005, Pocket Companion to Narnia. A Guide to the Magical World of C.S. Lewis, New York.

Graham J.E., 2004, ‘Women, Sex and Power: Circe and Lilith in Narnia’, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 29 (1-2), pp. 32–44. DOI:

Graves R., 1968, Greek Myths and Legends, London.

Gulisano P., 2006, C.S. Lewis. Od Narnii do Ewangelii, przeł. J. Skoczylas, Poznań.

Kerenyi K., 1951, The Mythology of the Greeks, vol. 1: Gods of the Greeks, London.

Kirk E.J., 2006, Opowieści z Narnii. Tajemnice Starej Szafy. Przewodnik po Narnii, przeł. M. Hesko-Kołodzińska, Poznań.

Nesbit E., 2010, Historia Amuletu, przeł. I. Tuwim, Kraków.

Schakel P.J., 1979, Reading with the heart: The way into Narnia, Michigan.

Stabryła S., 1980, Antyk we współczesnej prozie polskiej, Wrocław.

Ward M., 2008, Planet Narnia. The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis, Oxford. DOI:




How to Cite

Szczurek-Maksymiuk, E. “Circe, Lamia or Erinya - The Image of the Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis”. Classica Cracoviensia, vol. 19, Oct. 2016, pp. 187-02, doi:10.12797/CC.19.2016.12.