Authentic Calypso

Seeing as how I finished the Odyssey this week, I figured my mythology post should be related to the epic poem. I’ve actually already touched on much of it, but even though I’ve previously discussed nymphs in general, I haven’t said a whole lot about Calypso in particular.

She is the nymph who keeps Odysseus as a prisoner for seven years, promising to make him immortal if he’ll stay with her. He refuses, however, saying he wants to get back to his wife and family. That apparently doesn’t stop him from sleeping with her, though, any more than it did with Circe. I guess the latter could have been considered self-preservation, though, as you generally wouldn’t say no to someone who’s just turned your entire crew into pigs. Notice how every hot female recluse in the Mediterranean wants to sex up Odysseus? The whole thing almost feels like it was written by Piers Anthony. {g} Anyway, while Hesiod gave the name Calypso the one of the Oceanids, this was presumably not the same nymph, as Odysseus’ Calypso is identified as a daughter of Atlas. Her home island is called Ogygia, the location of which is unclear.


While the derivation of Calypso’s name isn’t known for sure, it’s commonly thought that it comes from the word Καλύπτειν, meaning “to cover.” With this in mind, there has been speculation that she might have originally been a death goddess, which is kind of odd when the main thing we know about the nymph is that she offered to make him NOT die. It’s also possible, based on descriptions of Ogygia, that she might have been a fertility goddess before her demotion to nymph. And no, calypso music is not named after her, although the English term might have been spelled that way as an association with the mythological character (who, after all, did live on an island and sing). Jacques Cousteau did, however, name his ship after Calypso.

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3 Responses to Authentic Calypso

  1. vilajunkie says:

    And Calypso is the sea goddess in the Caribbean (and looks Jamaican or Haitian as well as speaking with a Jamaican dialect of English) in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies! No idea why she’d force Davy Jones of all people to be her consort, but it appears as if “Davy Jones” is *SPOILER* the nickname or personal name of the most recent incarnation of her consort. Maybe she chooses mortal sailors/pirates to fill in the role until they die or get their humanity restored. *END SPOILER* There’s talk of a fourth film in the series, so who knows if she’ll be involved in the new storyline.

  2. Ozaline says:

    Also the Queen of the Morlocks in X-men.

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