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The Theme of Hospitality on the Island of Ogygia with Calypso Essay

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Updated: Oct 21st, 2021

The ‘Iliad’ is one of the most admired and well-known poems worldwide. Its main idea covers several essential themes, one of which is hospitality. This leading concept runs throughout the story, and its prominent motifs are present in virtually every paragraph. There is a mild explanation for this, as hospitality is one of Greek mythology’s most crucial communication conditions. Friendly and generous reception, entertaining guests, and, conversely, respecting the host was significant to the Gods and Goddesses. Fundamental was the principle of reciprocity, and the visitor should be as respectful to the owner as he was to him. Violation of this belief had negative consequences and sometimes even caused force. However, if all the conditions were satisfied, it had a positive effect on interpersonal communications. Nevertheless, hospitality did not always help achieve the desired, and the relationship between Odysseus and Calypso is a striking example of this.

The protagonist spent a long seven years in captivity on the island. His stay there was contradictory, as he suffered a lot on the one hand, but on the other hand, the place and its owner were awe-inspiring. Ogygia could be associated with the heart of the universe, which extends everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. ‘Even a god, who lives forever, coming there, would be amazed to gaze at it, and his heart would fill with pleasure’ (Homer 26). Odysseus got there for a reason; he was helped by a nymph who was strikingly gorgeous.

Calypso was the daughter of the Gods; she was as impressive as her island and resided in a cavern. ‘A garden vine, fully ripe and loaded with rich grapes, trailed through the hollow cave. From four fountains, close to each other in a row, clear water streamed out in various directions, and all-around soft meadows spread out in full bloom with fresh violets and parsley’(Homer 26). Calypso was the true embodiment of hospitality and generosity. Her encounter with Odysseus is an illustration of this. The nymph not only gave him comfortable clothes but also fed and sprayed him to his ability.

Moreover, when she recognized him better, she fell in love with him with all her courage and offered to stay with her endlessly and become her spouse. Every day, the ideal mermaid surrounded Odysseus with unimaginable richness, sang with her ‘ringing-pleasant’ voice, and contributed the most precious to man and God – immortality and everlasting youth. Her main features were kindness and generosity; she spared absolutely nothing, and all her actions were filled with warmth and sincerity. Calypso was ready to give everything to the last, aspiring only one thing, to keep the beloved at herself. However, Odysseus’ heart remained oblivious to her appeals, senses, charm, and unimaginable nature nearby. He did not distinguish himself as loved but instead felt similar to the captive. He went daily to the seashore, sat there for hours, gazing at it, longing and weeping for Penelope (Homer 26). That lasted until the Olympian Gods took pity on him and decided it was time to bring him back to the homeland.

However, even after Calypso was forced to let her beloved go, she gave Odysseus the tools he needed to build a raft and provided him with bread, wine, and water for the journey. Moreover, ‘the nymph set out all kinds of food to eat and drink, the sort of things 120 mortal human beings consume’ (Homer 28). Nevertheless, it is essential to say that Odysseus also treated the nymph with respect. ‘Mighty goddess, do not be angry with me over this. I myself know very well Penelope, although intelligent, is not your match to look at, not in stature or in beauty’ (Homer 28). It works as good evidence of the fact of reciprocity in the matter of hospitality.

It is important to note that nostalgia is also a significant component of conviviality and its pursuit. Homesickness is the eternal engine of Odysseus’ wanderings; he makes a new attempt to encounter such accommodation at various new contacts. Each time the scene fails, none of these meetings can be a perfect model. He is displeased by the lavish gifts, riches, and prospects. Furthermore, the same thing is repeated with each new encounter: the reception can only be fleeting and incomplete. The pattern on which the nostalgia for hospitality is based is Ithaca, the goal and end of the wanderings, the place that can quench homesickness.

To sum up, part five of the Iliad is devoted to Odysseus’ stay on the island of Ogygia. Much concentration is given to the theme of generosity, and it can be concluded that the Goddess’s behavior reflects the understanding of the host’s role in Greek mythicism. Calypso is ready to give everything she has and spares no gifts and entertainments for her chosen one. On the other hand, Odysseus also treats the mistress of the island well, but neither her luggage nor her unearthly beauty replaces his beloved and native home.

Work Cited

Homer, Homer. The Odyssey. Xist Publishing, 2015.

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