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Calypso – Myths & Legends of the Sea


My name having become So/Sobee/SobeSan and anything close to that during the years, I have lovingly adopted the nick 'Calypso' over time as a screen name or on my dive gear. CalypSo not just fits part of my own name but it is also the name the research vessel of one of my idols, the legendary Jaques Cousteau.

The sea is source of many legends and myths, some scary and brutal, some more gentle and loving. I'll write many a post on the large array of sea stories and creatures because they are just facinating … well at least to me. So let's have a look at Calypso, what/who was she and why is she known by us sea lovers?

Calypso or Kalypso has root in Greek mythology and the epic tale of Homer's Odyssey. For those of you not familiar with that there is of course also the Pirates of the Caribbean character that fell in love with Davy Jones and got double crossed by her lover. Calypso appears throughout ancient history as offspring of different named Gods, but let's go with the most known ones being Homers tale and the Disney version.

img: Original Print by James Wu

Homeric Calypso is the daughter of Atlas, a goddess of strange power and beauty that inhabits the mythical island of Ogygia. Odysseus shipwrecked on the shores of this island after the epic war at Troy, and that is where the two met. Ogygia is described as an island of strange beauty with natural springs, peculiar wild life, caverns and lush green growth. A perfect place for a godess to linger i'd say.

Nymph Calypso falls in love with Odysseus and promises him eternal youth and immortality if he stays with her. She takes care of him and longs for him to be her husband. Odysseus however is moaning and pining away at the shores daily and want nothing more than to go home. She then goes on to keep him on the island against his will basically, thinking he'll change his mind, until the Gods send her a messenger demanding that Odysseus is let go so he can journey home.

Calypso is not happy about this at all and shows her resentment for Zeus. “When he struck this mans' ship with his thunderbolt and took all his crew, I saved him and I took care of him, now Zeus decides there is another purpose for this mortal man” (freely interpreted). Eventually Calypso agrees, as what is demanded by the Gods has to be done. And so Odysseus is on his way back home after having spent 7 years with Calypso on her lush island.

img: Luma Pictures

Calypso from Pirates of the Caribbean is depicted as a ruler of the seas, 'the goddess herself bound in human form'. In Disney's movie she is molded into a hypnotizing flirty character with exotic beauty. Disney's Calypso and young sailor Davy Jones fall in love and she gives him an incredible ship (The Flying Dutchman) and the sacred task of collecting the poor souls that died at sea in return for his love. “A woman, he fell in love”. “No, I heard it was the sea he fell in love with”. “same story, different versions, and all are true”.

Davy Jones agrees to set foot on land once every 10 year, and if the love was true his task would be complete and a new captain for the Flying Dutchman would be found. However, every time Jones comes ashore Calypso is nowhere to be seen. Of course Davy gets annoyed by this, wants to take all her sea ruling powers away and plots with the Pirate Bethren to trick Calypso and imprison her into the body of a mortal woman.

Davy Jones has a conscious though and soon he is so taken with guilt he rips out his own heart and locks it in a box and returns to the seas. Now he can't feel a thing and is feared by all.

When the spell is lifted (go watch the movie please) Calypso's wrath is huge and she gathers the waters into a massive maelstrom. At the midst of which is Davy Jones' heart. It gets pierced and he dies, he's returned to the seas for ever. Aaaah she still loved him right?

Ok so it seems both versions of Calypso are women with issues, I'd like to think that the only parallel between them and me is just the two letters of our names, olive tan skin, and that I consider myself a water nymph at times 🙂

Both Calypso's though are also women that like to be in control. Homer's version shows a Goddess that basically says to the male Gods 'hey, why only you dudes can enchant & take mortal lovers? What you do, I can do as well', Disney's version shows a woman that deeply loves a man but in the end doesn't stand for the crap he pulled.... however she was a bit b*tchy though, not being on land once every 10 years and all. Well.... that's women for ya 😉

When I think of Calypso I picture her as a hybrid of both stories; a strong willed woman that knows her way around the water and is determined in what she wants. She is free, she is wild, she can't really be contained. She is tanned by the sun and her dark but sun kissed hair has no split ends! Yeah … that's a lady i'd like to hang out with.

What's a mythical figure you'd like to meet or maybe even identify with? Let me know in the comments, maybe the next post on the subject can be about yours!

Keep Loving the Sea Everybody!

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