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Calypso (mythology)

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Calypso receiving Telemachus and Mentor in the Grotto detail
Detail from Calypso receiving Telemachus and Mentor in the Grotto by William Hamilton.
Abode Ogygia
Symbol Dolphin
Consort Odysseus
Parents Atlas
Children By some accounts Latinus, by others Nausithous and Nausinous

Calypso (pronounced: /kəˈlɪpsoʊ/; Greek: Καλυψώ, Kalupsō) was a nymph in Greek mythology, who lived on the island of Ogygia, where she detained Odysseus for several years. She is generally said to be the daughter of the Titan Atlas.[1]

Hesiod mentions either different Calypsos or the same Calypso as one of the Oceanid daughters of Tethys and Oceanus,[2] and Pseudo-Apollodorus as one of the Nereid daughters of Nereus and Doris.[3]

The Odyssey

Calypso is remembered most for her role in Homer's Odyssey, in which she keeps the fabled Greek hero Odysseus on her island so she could make him her immortal husband. According to Homer, Calypso kept Odysseus hostage at Ogygia for seven years,[4] while Pseudo-Apollodorus says five years[5] and Hyginus says one.[6] Calypso enchants Odysseus with her singing as she strolls to and fro across her weaving loom, with a golden shuttle. During this time they sleep together, although Odysseus soon comes to wish for circumstances to change.

Odysseus cannot be away from his wife Penelope any longer and wants to go to Calypso to tell her. His patron goddess Athena asks Zeus to order the release of Odysseus from the island, and Zeus sends the messenger Hermes, to tell Calypso to set Odysseus free, for it was not his destiny to live with her forever. She angrily comments on how the gods hate goddesses having relationships with mortals. Then being worried for her not-meant-to-be love Odysseus, Calypso sends him on his way with a boat, wine, and bread. Odysseus tells her he knows she is more beautiful than his wife, but he wants to get home for other reasons.

Homer does not mention any children by Calypso. By some accounts, which come after the Odyssey, Calypso bore Odysseus a son, Latinus,[7] though Circe is usually given as Latinus's mother.[8] In other accounts Calypso bore Odysseus two children, Nausithous and Nausinous.[9]


The etymology of Calypso's name is from καλύπτω (kalyptō), meaning "to cover", "to conceal", "to hide".[10] According to Etymologicum Magnum her name means καλύπτουσα το διανοούμενον, i.e. "concealing the knowledge", which combined with the Homeric epithet δολόεσσα, meaning subtle or wily, justifies the hermetic character of Calypso and her island.

The spelling of "Calypso music" reflects a later folk-etymological assimilation with the mythological name[11] and is not otherwise related to the character in the Odyssey.

In popular culture

Jacques-Yves Cousteau named his research ship after Calypso.

Musically, Jean Michel Jarre's seventh studio album "Waiting for Cousteau" (dedicated to Jacques Cousteau) featured a three-part ambient work entitled "Calypso". John Denver's song "Calypso" is also a tribute to Cousteau and his work. The Suzanne Vega song "Calypso" from the album Solitude Standing is based on the Odyssey, namely the part in which Calypso is forced to let Odysseus go. A song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds called More News from Nowhere, which is loosely based on the Odyssey, contains a lyric briefly summarizing the story of Odysseus and Calypso. In literature, Calypso appears in Fénelon's novel Les Aventures de Télémaque (1699) and tries to seduce Telemachus. She also appears in the "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" series. In the fourth book, The Battle of the Labyrinth, she has been exiled and trapped on an island because she helped her father, Atlas; she is freed by Percy in the fifth book, The Last Olympian. Calypso also appears in Tad Williams' Otherland series.

On screen, Calypso was a nickname given to Dr. Mariah Crawford, Kraven's fiancee, in the 1990s animated television series Spiderman. Andrey Konchalovskiy's 1997 made-for-tv miniseries adaptation, The Odyssey, depicts Calypso (portrayed by Vanessa Lynn Williams) similarly based on the mythical character in the epic poem. In the movie series Pirates of the Caribbean, Calypso (portrayed by Naomie Harris) is a goddess who was once in love with Davy Jones. She becomes trapped in human form and assumes the name Tia Dalma.

In video games, Calypso is the name of one of the major characters of the Twisted Metal series where he is shown as the host of the titular contest. He grants the winner of the contest one wish, but these wishes tend to backfire on the winner.


  1. Homer, Odyssey, 1.14, 1.50; Apollodorus, Library [1]. She is sometimes referred to as Atlantis (Ατλαντίς), which means the daughter of Atlas, see the entry Ατλαντίς in Liddell & Scott, and also Hesiod, Theogony, 938.
  2. Hesiod, Theogony 359
  3. Apollodorus, Library 1.2.7
  4. Homer, Odyssey 7.259
  5. Apollodorus, Epitome 7.24
  6. Hyginus, Fabulae 125
  7. Apollodorus, Epitome 7.24
  8. Hesiod, Theogony 1011
  9. See Hesiod, Theogony 1019, Sir James George Frazer in his notes to Apollodorus, Epitome 7.24, says that these verses "are probably not by Hesiod but have been interpolated by a later poet of the Roman era in order to provide the Latins with a distinguished Greek ancestry".
  10. Entry καλύπτω at LSJ
  11. Wiktionary: calypso


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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Calypso (mythology). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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