The Odyssey

by: Homer

Calypso

Calypso is an immortal goddess who holds Odysseus prisoner for seven years on the island where she lives and forces him to be her lover. Calypso loves Odysseus and wants to make him immortal so he can stay with her and be her husband forever, even though she understands that he doesn’t love her back and wants to return to Penelope. Throughout the poem Calypso is described as “lustrous Calypso” and “the nymph with lovely braids.” In addition to being powerful, Calypso is smart and insightful. When Zeus orders Calypso to release Odysseus, she complains about the gods’ double standard which allows male deities to take human lovers but punishes goddesses who do the same: “You unrivalled lords of jealousy—/scandalized when goddesses sleep with mortals.” Calypso’s speech draws our attention to the similar double standard which exists in the mortal world of the poem. Neither the poet nor any of the poem’s characters rebuke Odysseus for sleeping with Calypso and Circe, but Penelope is repeatedly criticized for allowing the suitors to remain in her house, even though she has little or no power to expel them.


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