Over the past month or so I have been a little obsessed with the children of Odysseus. We’ve looked at the children attributed to him from Penelope (yes, there’s more than one) and Kirkê. There’s a range of additional children—a handful from various princesses, and a pair from Kalypso.
Hesiod names the sons of Kalypso at the end of the Theogony:
“Kalypso the shining goddess gave birth as well to Nausithoos
And Nausinoos after having lovely sex with Odysseus.”
The Byzantine scholar Eustathius records this genealogical information alongside other fantastic bits, calling them “extraordinary and empty titillation” (περιττὰ ταῦτα καὶ κενὴ μοχθηρία, Commentarii ad Homeri Od 2.117). Apart from Hesiod and Eustathius’ citation of the Theogony, there is no other mention of Nausinoos in extant Greek literature.
Both names are ‘speaking names’ for sea people (“Swift-Ship” and “Ship-Minded”) which are echoed in the name of the Phaeacian Princess Nausikaa. It seems entirely possible that the pair are simply ancient place-holders for children rather than indicating actual mythical traditions. And yet, Homer has Phaeacian Nausithoos in the Odyssey.
Odysseus is said to have heard a prophecy that he would be killed by his son. So, according to some (Dictys, Hyginus) he sent Telemachus away. But what Odysseus didn’t know, allegedly, is that it had more than one son. How many? That depends on whom you believe.
I got a bit obsessive about this a few weeks ago and came up with a list of the named sons of Odysseus. Obviously, the full number I have is a little mess up: some names point to the same ‘individuals’. But here’s the list, 17 names for sons (for, I think, 13 individuals) and a daughter:
Telemakhos and Arkesilaos/Ptoliporthes (Penelope) [Eustathius/Pausanias]
Agrios, Latinus and Telegonos (Kirke [Hesiod]) or Auson [Lykophron]
Rhomos, Antias, Ardeas (Kirke) [Dionysus of Halicarnassos]
Nausithoos and Nausinoos (Kalypso) [Hesiod]
Leontophron or Dorukles or Euryalos (Euippê, Epirote Princess) [Eustathius]
Polypoitês (Kallidikê, Thesprotian Princess) [Proklos]
Leontophronos (Daughter of Thoas, Aitolian Princess) [Apollodoros]