Calypso and Odysseus: Hospitality on Ogygia

‘How much longer must I endure the confines of this island
still so far removed from the shores of my native dominion?
How much longer must I remain your unwilling companion
going to sleep in your arms and waking up in the morning
only to weep on the beach where my drowned companions decayed?’

‘What, my silver-tongued guest? Is my company so abhorrent?
Why then have you not yet with diligent hands built a raft
which would carry you swiftly across the glittering ocean?’

‘There you mock me again. You know that I am but mortal.
Give me water to drink on the voyage and food for survival.
And before I set sail, grant me your solemn assurance
that you are setting me free with auspicious winds and your blessings
and have no intention of sending me into misfortune.’

‘Come and pleasure me now. I will think about your request.’

Copyright (C) Ranai Pahav


Author’s note:

I wrote this a few years ago on a whim. The characters and setting are not mine of course; I just had fun putting words into their mouths and struggling with the metre.

Ogygia is the island where the hero is stuck at the beginning of Homer’s Odyssey. On his hazardous voyage back from the Trojan War, Odysseus is detained there as love slave of the nymph Calypso. The Stockholm Syndrome does not seem to work: After seven years, Odysseus still tells her he just wants to go home. Only when Hermes, sent by the Olympians, intercedes on the hero’s behalf, she lets him depart, so that the story of his adventures can continue.

Calypso apparently enjoyed her captive while she had him. Dialogues like the above may have recurred, in variations, many times in those seven years of captivity.

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