Who are Calypso and Circe in The Odyssey and what instructions do they give Odysseus?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Calypso and Circe are two beautiful women who entrap Odysseus's emotions for a while and distract him from his mission of getting home to Penelope.

After Odysseus has lost all his men and shipwrecks, Calypso takes him in.  She becomes enamored with him and offers him immortality if he will stay with her, but she is ordered through Hermes to release Odysseus and send him home.  Odysseus makes the right choice and heads toward home.

Circe appears later in the epic poem, but Odysseus actually meets her first.  Even though Odysseus does not fall prey to Circe's magic and turn into a pig, he and his men do linger at her palace for a year, wasting valuable time.

Both women further illustrate Odysseus's struggle with pride.  He enjoys having desirable women desire him and allows them to sidetrack him from seeing Penelope and Telemachus sooner, but in the end, he does obey Zeus and makes it home.