Odyssey 5: Is Calypso trying to kill Odysseus?

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Bart
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Odyssey 5: Is Calypso trying to kill Odysseus?

Post by Bart » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:42 am

After leaving Ogygia, Odysseus is shipwrecked by a storm unleashed by Poseidon. He nearly drowns when he falls off his self made raft (or boat) because the clothes Calypso gave him only 50 lines earlier pull him down (Odyssey 5, 319-321) )

τὸν δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ὑπόβρυχα θῆκε πολὺν χρόνον, οὐδ᾽ ἐδυνάσθη
αἶψα μάλ᾽ ἀνσχεθέειν μεγάλου ὑπὸ κύματος ὁρμῆς:
εἵματα γάρ ῥ᾽ ἐβάρυνε, τά οἱ πόρε δῖα Καλυψώ.

is this a) coincidence, b) irony or c) a deliberate attempt by a deceitful Calypso, whose motives Odysseus feared earlier in the book (lines 173-180). Or am I d) just reading way too much into this?
Last edited by Bart on Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

Hylander
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Re: Odyssey 5: Is Calypso trying to kill Odysseus?

Post by Hylander » Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:46 pm

I think you're reading too much into it. I think it would be explicit if Calypso had deliberately tried to drown Odysseus. There's no suggestion that she anticipated the storm that shipwrecked Odysseus. And any clothes, whether or not given by Calypso, would have weighed Odysseus down the same way. Odysseus's abandonment of his clothes prepares for the comic scene with Nausicaa on Scheria and his transformation from a naked shipwrecked sailor into a handsome, imposing figure at the court of Alcinous, and this prefigures Odysseus' transformation from beggar to anax in his own domain.
Last edited by Hylander on Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Paul Derouda
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Re: Odyssey 5: Is Calypso trying to kill Odysseus?

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:05 pm

I agree: probably d). Beside preparing for the Nausicaa scene, it’s also a realistic touch so typical of Homer that makes this whole episode more vivid. It’s difficult to swin even in modern clothes, not to mention the rectangular pieces of cloth they wore at the time. You can almost feel the taste of salt water in your mouth when you read about Odysseus’ shipwreck.

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Re: Odyssey 5: Is Calypso trying to kill Odysseus?

Post by Bart » Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:11 pm

You two are probably right.

The shipwreck piece is vivid and realistic, as you say. The similes in this passage are striking too:

394-399, Od. 5
ὡς δ᾽ ὅτ᾽ ἂν ἀσπάσιος βίοτος παίδεσσι φανήῃ
πατρός, ὃς ἐν νούσῳ κεῖται κρατέρ᾽ ἄλγεα πάσχων,
δηρὸν τηκόμενος, στυγερὸς δέ οἱ ἔχραε δαίμων,
ἀσπάσιον δ᾽ ἄρα τόν γε θεοὶ κακότητος ἔλυσαν,
ὣς Ὀδυσεῖ ἀσπαστὸν ἐείσατο γαῖα καὶ ὕλη,
νῆχε δ᾽ ἐπειγόμενος ποσὶν ἠπείρου ἐπιβῆναι.

and

432-435
ὡς δ᾽ ὅτε πουλύποδος θαλάμης ἐξελκομένοιο
πρὸς κοτυληδονόφιν πυκιναὶ λάιγγες ἔχονται,
ὣς τοῦ πρὸς πέτρῃσι θρασειάων ἀπὸ χειρῶν
ῥινοὶ ἀπέδρυφθεν: τὸν δὲ μέγα κῦμα κάλυψεν.

Both metaphors seem to fit the thing compared to more by association than by any literal similarity. Or to say it more negatively, they're a bit confused, especially the second one. To me the image of Odysseus clinging stubbornly to a rock in the same way as an octopus would cling on comes to mind. However, when read literally it seems to be the pebbles clinging on to the octopus tentacles' that are compared to Odysseus' skin clinging on to the rock. Or is it?
In the first simile the two situations are in fact very dissimilar except for the sense of relief that accompanies them both.

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