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IRIS, the daughter of Thaumas and Electra, was the messenger of the gods. She is identified with the rainbow, and is frequently drawn as such, overshadowing the chariot of Juno, whose especial attendant she was.
Iris usually administered the sacred water of the Styx, by which the oaths of the gods were proved. Ovid connects her with the deluge, and represents her as furnishing water for the destruction of the world. One of her various offices was to release the soul when struggling to quit the perishing body. Iris is sometimes known by the name of Thaumantia.
Swift-footed Iris, nymph of Thaumas born,
Abundant from the sacred river head,
Through shades of blackest night the Stygian horn
Of ocean flows: a tenth of all the streams
To the dread oath allotted.
The god that gilds the day,
And various Iris, wing their airy way;
Swift as the wind to Ida's hills they came,
The Thunderer spoke: the goddess winged her flight
Swift as the rattling hail, or fleecy snows,
Drive through the skies when Boreas fiercely blows;
Iliad, book 15.
CALYPSO, occasionally styled the goddess of silence, is by some writers thought to have been a daughter of Atlas; by others, one of the Oceanides. She reigned in the island of Ogygia, said to have been situated opposite the promontory of Lacenium, in Magna Græcia, although Homer speaks of it as in the far Atlantic.'
When Ulysses, during his wanderings, was shipwrecked on her coasts, Calypso kindly entertained him, offered him a share of her dominion, and promised to bestow on him immortality, if he would consent to fix his residence there, and abandon his friends and native country. Ulysses was deaf to her entreaties, and it having been decreed, in a council of the gods, that he
should return to his beloved Ithaca, Mercury was sent to apprise Calypso of the loss that awaited her: at first she was inconsolable, but hearing that the fiat had gone forth, and that resistance to the power of Jove would be unavailing, she consented to suffer Ulysses to depart, after having detained him by her wiles upwards of seven years. She then assisted him in building and rigging his ship, supplied him with sails from her own loom, and invoked prosperous gales, to speed the vessel on its homeward course. Fenelon has introduced Calypso into
his beautiful production, the Adventures of Telemachus; but her love for that prince, and, indeed, the entire structure of the poem, are drawn from his own exquisite imagination only.
Homer describes the appearance of Calypso's cave, and the surrounding scenery, when Mercury descended at the command of Jupiter.
Large was the grot in which the nymph he found,
Flamed on the hearth, and wide perfumed the isle;
Without the grot, a various sylvan scene
every fountain pours a several rill,
In mazy windings wandering down the hill;
Where blooming meads with vivid greens were crowned,
A scene, where if a god should cast his sight,
Joy touched the messenger of heaven: he stayed
Odyssey, book 5.