Side-Tracked by a Seductress

Here’s a nerdy Greek mythology post:  


According to Croatian guide books, on our sail up north towards Trogir, we would be passing the alleged cave where Homer’s character Odysseus, from his epic poem “the Odyssey,” was beguiled by the nymph Calypso. 


Croatia claims this to be the actual cave from Homer’s fictitious story. Though the island country of Malta would beg to differ, as they claim they’re in possession of the real make-believe cave. This is all sorta like fighting over who has the real wall in which Humpy Dumpty may have had his great fall, but, for the sake on an epic poem, we were going along with it–especially if there is a seductress involved in the plot-line.


If you’re a bit rusty on the epic poems of Homer—and you’re still actually reading this—let me catch you up on the scandalous history of this cave. 


After fighting for ten years in the Trojan War, our hero Odysseus packs up, and sets sail for home—a trip that should have taken a month or so.  But it ends up taking Odysseus ten years. TEN. And, mind you, his wife is waiting for him back home, thinking her war hero will be back in a jiffy, and perhaps she could have him pick up a pizza on his way home since it wouldn’t take that long. She doesn’t realize it’ll be a decade before he returns.


TEN YEARS to get home—seven of which, according to Croatia’s travel bureau, Odysseus spent in the very cave we were sailing by.


What kept him so delayed you ask? (Maybe you didn’t ask but I’m going to tell you anyway.) This is where the story gets salacious. First, he and his crew run into sirens; not the emergency, blaring-lights-because-you’re-about-to-be-pulled-over kind of sirens. We’re talking about the bawdy temptress kind. This story pre-dates noise canceling headsets so poor Odysseus had to resort to stuffing his ears with beeswax so he can’t hear their tawdry attempts to lure him and his men. 


He also claims to come across a lot of other time delaying scenarios like six-headed monsters. But the bulk of his tardiness is taken up in the cave we visited.


There, the poor guy is shipwrecked and becomes the lone survivor. He swims toward this very cave and through the small entrance he finds it opens up to a larger cave—and on this brief point we can certify as true. 


His cruel hideous fate is that inside the cave was a beautiful seductress named Calypso who forces the poor guy to be her lover for the next seven years.  Imagine the horror of his awful captivity, day after lecherous day, with a bodacious woman.  After seven grueling years of being incarcerated by this femme fatale, she finally “allowed” him to leave—at least that’s how it’s explained to Odysseus’ wife. 


Let it be noted that back when I had kids in school, Odysseus–king excuse maker–was my inspiration whenever I had to write an excuse note on why my kids were late for school. It helped me write some real humdingers to the poor school secretary…”sorry my son was late, we got side-tracked on the way to school by a six-headed monster and beguiled by a brawny school crossing guard…”


We were curious to check out the cave so we put Bedouin on a mooring ball, splashed the dingy, and headed over to check it out. Of course there was no way I was letting Mark explore an alleged siren’s cave alone, if that she-devil Calypso was still in the cave beguiling men I thought I’d better go along. After all, I’m not getting any younger—and more importantly, I admit I lack the skills to single-hand this boat of ours, so I can’t afford to lose my captain.


The cave was amazing and the only sign of life was a crazy dive-bombing bat. With no sign of jezebels and some amazingly clear water, we went back to the boat for our dive fins and spent the morning free-diving the clear blue water inside the cave. 


Whether or not this was the “real” fictional cave, it was well worth the stop—though Mark was probably wishing there were more beguiling beauties inside the cave than just me. He had to settle for his wife, two grown kids, and a freakish bat. But since our little cave detour didn’t take up ten years, I’d say it was a successful adventure.

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