Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

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What is Odysseus' usual activity during the day on Calypso's island?

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At the beginning of book 5, Athena is attempting to intercede with Zeus on Odysseus's behalf because Odysseus has essentially been Calypso's captive on Ogygia for seven years. Athena describes Odysseus's condition:

Yet now he lies in great grief on an island in the house of Calypso, who holds him captive. The man has been forced to stay there for many years because he doesn't have ships or comrades to take him . . . back to his own country (ll. 13–16).

Zeus responds to this plea by reminding Athena that she is the one who orchestrated Odysseus's current situation in order to keep him safe and allow Odysseus's son, Telemachus, to grow to manhood. It is not a coincidence that the name "Calypso" in Greek means "to cover or conceal." Odysseus may be miserable, but he has been kept from harm for a long time. Considering that he has lost all his ships and men to various misfortunes so far, he is lucky to be alive.

Athena, who has been watching over Odysseus during the entire voyage from Troy to Ithaca, which lasts for about ten years, has been watching Odysseus become increasingly depressed and desperate to find a way to escape from Ogygia:

She [Calypso] found him sitting and weeping on the shore; his sweet life was ebbing away as he mourned for Ithaca. No longer did the nymph please him (ll. 131–132).

As a warrior-king, Odysseus should be struggling mightily to return home to Ithaca—his natural state is to fight, to lead and to endure—but his seven years of ease with Calypso have blunted his natural abilities. He is, quite literally, in desperate shape.

What Athena does not mention to Zeus, of course, is that Calypso has treated Odysseus very well, providing him with the finest food, wine, and companionship for seven years. Athena also fails to mention that Odysseus and Calypso have extended their companionship to making love:

As they were speaking, the sun set and darkness came on. And they moved farther into the cave, and they made love with great pleasure, and then they slept in each other's arms (ll. 198–200).

In Greek Bronze Age warrior society, Odysseus's behavior here would not be frowned upon as long as he did not sleep with a married woman of another family. Sleeping with Calypso would not have been seen as compromising his marriage bond with Penelope. Penelope's view on this would be interesting.

After slowly deteriorating for seven years—and after Zeus orders Calypso (through Hermes) to let Odysseus go—Calypso provides Odysseus with the tools to build his own ship, a bronze axe with a "beautiful olive-wood haft tightly fixed to its head" (ll. 208–210), and leads him to a grove at the tip of the island with the finest and driest trees. Odysseus works with a vengeance and finishes his boat on the fourth day, and on the fifth day, Calypso sends him off to sea.

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What we know of Odysseus` time on the island of Ogygia appears mainly in...

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Book 5 of theOdyssey. Calypso was a nymph, daughter of Atlas, the Titan who bore the weight of the world on his shoulders. She was an immortal and wanted Odysseus as a husband, although Odysseus wanted to return to his wife, Penelope. He is described as spending his days on the island sitting by the shore on the rocks and weeping, looking out over the see, and wishing he could leave and go home. Homer also describes him as spending his nights in bed with the Calypso, and implies a sexual relationship.

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What is Odysseus's usual activity during the day on Calypso's island?

Odysseus's usual activity during the day on Calypso's island is not as much fun as a person ought to have on a beach on a beautiful island.  Instead of having fun, he typically sits there all day, looking out to sea and crying.  He does this because he wants to leave the island and make his way home, but he cannot.

You can find this in Book V.  It is in the part after Mercury comes and tells Calypso that she has to let Odysseus go (Zeus has said she has to).  She goes to tell Odysseus the news and finds him crying like usual.

As for the day time, hespent it on the rocks and on the sea shore, weeping, cryingaloud for his despair, and always looking out upon the sea.
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