Teh Odessy

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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Circe and Calypso are believed to be monstrous but are they really? In The Odyssey written by Homer, a man named Odysseus tries to get home after fighting at the Trojan War for nine years. Throughout this epic, all Odysseus wants is to return to his home in Ithaca where his wife, Penelope, and his son, Telemachus, are waiting for him to come back. He faces many hardships and must overcome many obstacles including Circe and Calypso. Circe is the enchantress who transform the crew of Odysseus into swine and who, when she finds that she cannot conquer Odysseus, takes him as a lover and gives him advice and supplies for his voyage home. Calypso is a sea nymph who keeps Odysseus captive for nine years after he has fought the Trojans. Both females are believed to be monstrous and they use creative and destructive tactics to trick Odysseus but represent femininity in such a marvelous way.

The journey in which Odysseus travels is not complete without encounter with these characters.

"Circe has locked your [Odysseus's] friends like swine behind the tight fence of her pens. And have you come to free them? On your own, be sure you'll never return; you'll stay together with the others in her sties" (200.) Hermes, messenger of the gods, tells Odysseus about Circe. Circe, using her creativity turns Odysseus's crew into swine, still with the minds of humans. Odysseus splits his men into group, one to search and island and the other, which he is in, to stay with the ship. Eurylochus' group goes to search the island. However Circe destroys Eurylochus's hope, and scares him, for he comes back to Odysseus saying, ""˜Odysseus, we did follow your commands: we crossed the underbrush and reached the glen. We found a sheltered house with smooth stone walls. And there, intent on her great web, a goddess or women could be heard distinctly singing. My comrades called to her; she opened wide the gleaming doors, inviting them to enter. They, unsuspecting, trailed along. But I held back; I felt this was a trap. They dropped from sight together. Though I kept close watch- I waited long- no comrade reappeared.'" (199) Odysseus knows he must try and go free his crew and asks Eurylochus to show him the way to the house but he replies. "May you, whom Zeus has nurtured, leave me here; don't force me to retrace my path" (199.) Circe destroys all his confidence. Meanwhile, Odysseus must find his way alone. On his way, Hermes, the messenger of the gods, stops him and tells him how to defeat Circe and resist her spells. Once in the house of Circe, Circe tries to defeat him but Odysseus overcomes her. She also tries to get him to sleep with her using her femininity. Odysseus is strong and makes an oath with her, that before sleeping with her, she must promise to forget any further plots and free his men. She sets his men free and they all live together in Circe's house for one year. She hurts him by turning his men into swine and destroys Eurylochus's hope for awhile. Although she turns the men that were swine back into humans she makes them stronger and younger. Also, when Odysseus asks to leave, she helps him by telling him to go to Hades, the underworld, and find Tiresias the Theban. She helps him by turning his crew back into humans "each man clasped my [Odysseus] hand. Their cries of joy were long and loud; throughout the house a clamor rose. And Circe, too, was moved" (200.) She is touched by how these men get along and helps them out of the goodness of her heart.

Soon after dawn breaks on Mount Olympus, Athena tells the consul of gods that Odysseus remains on Calypso's island. At her prompting, Zeus dispatches Hermes with a message for Calypso. Binding on his magic sandals, Hermes skims over the waves to the island paradise where the nymph has detained Odysseus. He finds her at her hearth in the midst of a forest redolent with cedar smoke and thyme. She is suprised by the visit, extends hospitality before asking its cause. Seating Hermes, she puts before him nectar and ambrosia, the sustenance of the gods. Hermes says "'Zeus ordered me to come, against my will"¦Now Zeus would have you send [Odysseus] home at once'" (98.) Calypso is furious but can do nothing about it for she can not argue with Zeus. Calypso knows where to find Odysseus. Every day for the last seven years he's sat on the same rock gazing out to sea, weeping for home and Penelope. The creative power of Calypso, the sea nymph, is put to use when she must figure out a way for Odysseus to marry her. She loves him and wishes that they are married. As stated in the book, "Calypso, held him in her hollow grottos: she wanted him as a husband" (3.) She thinks that offering him immortality will convince him to marry her. She uses her femininity to seduce him and tries to trick him into being her husband. However, she is denied, for he refuses to marry her. All he wants is to go home. This hurts Odysseus very much, for he loves his wife and his child, Telemachus. She is woeful that he must leave her island, for it was not her idea for him to leave, but that of the gods. "Even when the wheel of years drew near his destined time- the time the gods designed for his return to Ithaca" (3.) And so the next morning she leads him to a pinewood and gives him tools to build a raft. Five days later, provisioned with food and drink, he sets sail. Instructed by Calypso, he keeps Orion and its companion constellations on his left and sails for seventeen days without sight of land. Odysseus's adventure with Calypso shows his own sense of duty and responsibility, demonstrating that despite his temptation, he is as faithful to his wife, Penelope, as she is to him.

Both Calypso and Circe show their femininity and great parts to the story. The importance of these characters is essential in this epic. Homer writes about Circe to show how loyal Odysseus is to his men, for them only to die later. He goes fearlessly into the house of Circe to regain his forces of men, and stops her from harming his men anymore. She tries to kill him, however after she fails, therefore they make a deal, and this also allows Homer to tell how brave and caring Odysseus is. Calypso's Island is where Odysseus is at when the book begins. Homer writes about her, to be a counterpoint of Penelope. He could stay with her and live forever or go back to Penelope, however his love was too strong to be seduced by the sea nymph and to fall into her arms in marriage.

You can see the way femininity plays a serious part in this epic, by looking at Calypso's and Circe's femininity, creativity, and destructive tactics add so much to The Odyssey. Their characters add a glimmer of hardship and must be defeated and convinced before they help Odysseus return to Ithaca. Odysseus was able to escape their clutches and overcome them with the help of the gods. This epic is a great way to show they femininity that females can have and how they can use it to get what they want. As seen it in the epic and throughout this essay Circe and Calypso help and guide Odysseus in the right path, ultimately guiding him home.