Goddesses in the Dirt: Calypso

Goddesses in the Dirt - Issue # 14: Calypso

Calypso is a nymph who falls in love with the hero Odysseus, who, after fighting the Trojan War for 10 years, is trying to get back home to his wife and son on Ithaka. Sailing back from Troy, Odysseus has blinded the Cyclops, known as Polyphemus, and to pay for this outrage Odysseus must endure the wrath of the giant's father, Poseidon. As god of the sea, Poseidon makes sure that Odysseus' ship encounters huge waves, winds and throws him off course to Ogygia, the island of Calypso. 

Upon seeing Odysseus, Calypso falls in love with him. In her desire to make him her husband, Calypso detains him on her island for a number of years - some accounts say seven, some eight. She offers him the ultimate reward of eternal life if he would stay with her on Ogygia. However Odysseus misses his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, who wait patiently for him at home on Ithaka, where all the while Penelope is fending off the increasingly bold suitors who vie for her hand in marriage.
Odysseus and Calypso. Hendrik van Balen, Jan Brueghel the Elder and Joos de Momper the Elde

As beautiful as Calypso is, and as tempting her offer of eternal youth and life, Odysseus cannot accept such a deal. He eventually appeals to the goddess Athena to find a way to escape from Calypso's grip. Athena asks Zeus to release Odysseus and Calypso does, albeit reluctantly. She complains that a relationship between a goddess and a mortal is doomed to fail. In spite of her unhappiness in having to let Odysseus go, she helps him build a raft and supplies him with wine and food for his journey.  
Calypso receiving Telemachus and Mentor in the Grotto by William Hamilton

The origin of the name Calypso is from the Greek word calypto, which means to conceal, or hide.
Greek Vase Painting, 5th century B.C.E. 

I love The Odyssey, the story of an eternal yearning to return to the island of Ithaka - beloved to both Odysseus and myself. Calypso also happens to be the name of the place I stay on Ithaka - to be featured in an upcoming post ~

All photos courtesy of Google images


  1. i laugh. i can't imagine being so patient a wife. i swear, only the great stories hold such patience and enduring love...perhaps))

    you've quite a life!


  2. I truly, truly love the Odyssey. There is always something new to be discovered in it. However, I agree with Erin! Penelope was BEYOND patient, but I guess that what true love requires.

  3. so intriguing...you are in unfamiliar territory for me...i have some reading to do.....i love following your trail.........

  4. honestly amanda, thank you for such a great way to learn my mythology and a great work. ay calypso...


  5. I like knowing the root of the name, 'Calypso.' The story itself is a bit troubling-- that of a goddess attempting to steal a husband and father for herself.

    Your post had me enraptured from first to last word.

  6. I always love your stories of strong women, Amanda. An interesting character, calypso. She couldn't have him, so she helped him. Such love!
    BTW, when did she start making music and dancing in the West Indies?

  7. I forgot about this myth, so thank ypu for remindning. I always felt sorry for his wife:)

  8. wonderful series - i am loving learning about all the godesses; Calypso - how did that become a West Indian music style? x

  9. I remember reading all the Greek myths and the Ilias and Odyssey at age 12 - totally rapt in them, and never forgotten. Thank you for reminding me!
    Although Greece is not well spoken of in Europe at the moment, I also still love the wisdom of its past.

  10. Calypso - the eternal enchantress. I read the Greek myths for the first time when I was about 10 and was totally hooked for years.

  11. I didnt know much about this story but it's wonderful. So much depth in the outline you've written.

  12. And a belated Bon Anniversaire to you! Us 10th Julyers are the very best people in the world! Fact.

  13. One must be careful when traveling on a long journey, that they don't end up like Odysseus. I suppose he became a Calypto-maniac for awhile. You should write a book about all this,, or have you already...thanks, glenn

  14. Glnroz, that is very funny!

    Like Rob-Bear, I am far more impressed by the selfless act bestowed by a very powerful goddess for the sake of the one she loves.

    This is an inspiring illustration of the compassionate use of power, Amanda. Thank you for yet another fascinating piece to the puzzle of Greek mythology.


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