The Sons of Odysseus, Part 5: Kalypso’s Brood

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.”

Ναυσίθοον δ’ ᾿Οδυσῆι Καλυψὼ δῖα θεάων
γείνατο Ναυσίνοόν τε μιγεῖσ’ ἐρατῇ φιλότητι.

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.

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