The two pictures relate to Book 10 of Homer's The Odyssesy when, after fleeing from the Lstrygonians, Odysseus and his men land on the island of Aeaea, the home of the sorceress Circe. Initially thinking the island to be uninhabited, Odysseus spies smoke through the trees, and sends a group of his men, led by Eurylochus, to investigate. In the centre of a clearing they discover a palace and are met by mountain lions and wolves, human victims of Circe's enchantments, who instead of attacking, are docile and approach the men. They hear Circe singing as she weaves at her loom and intrigued, the men call out to her. On heeding the men, Circe welcomes them into her palace, but Eurylochus, fearing a trap, hides. Circe feasts the men on wine and food laced with drugs to make them forget their wish of returning to Ithaca. She uses her magic wand to change them into pigs and shuts them in her sties. Only Eurylochus escapes to return to the ship and tell Odysseus what has taken place.
The dramatic story of Odysseus' return home from the Trojan War has often inspired representation in art. There are numerous depictions of Odysseus and Circe, including another work by Wright Barker, depicting Circe on the steps of her palace surrounded by mountain lions.