What help does Calypso give Odysseus in The Odyssey?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Calypso helps Odysseus by first agreeing to set him free, and then by promising him a raft and provisions for his journey home.

By way of the messenger Hermes, Zeus orders Calypso to free Odysseus. Calypso rails against the male gods who take mortals for wives, but are angered when the female gods take a mortal man. Nevertheless, she obeys. When she finds the unhappy Odysseus crying as the

                     ...sweet days of his lifetime
were running out in anguish over his exile,
for long ago the nymph had ceased to please.

Calypso approaches Odysseus, telling him to calm himself:

"Here you need grieve no more.... 
                  I have pondered it,
and I shall help you go."

Then, she takes him into her cave, where she has her serving maids bring him food. Still, she tries to convince Odysseus to stay, telling him of the dangers of the sea and offering to make him immortal is he stays. Much like the jealous woman, she asks Odysseus if she is less desirable than the wife for whom he pines. Odysseus calms her by saying that she has no reason for jealousy as Penelope is but a mortal, also. Offering his main desire to leave her as wishing to return home, he says,

                             "...Yet it is true, each day
I long for home, long for the sight of home..."

Thus, able to not offend Calypso by arguing that it is his home he misses more than his wife, he is allowed to construct a raft and set sail, although she watches him depart with great sadness. Moreover, just as Calypso has warned, Odysseus finds himself on a dangerous sea because the god Poseidon has generated a storm that destroys the raft. Fortunately, however, the goddess Ino comes to his rescue, by providing Odysseus with a veil that keeps him safe after his raft is wrecked. After eighteen days at sea, having been flung farther out and against jagged rocks, Odysseus again meets with good fortune as Athena intervenes along with a sea nymph. They, then, direct his course. At last, Odysseus finds a river that flows up to the coast of the island of Scheria. There he hides himself in a pile of leaves. Exhausted by this final effort, Odysseus throws off the protective veil given him by Ino as she has instructed him, and Athena "showered sleep/ that his distress should end."