In Greek mythology, Karpos (//; Greek: Καρπός; Latin: Carpus, literally "fruit"), was a youth renowned for his beauty. He is the son of Zephyrus (the west wind) and Khloris (spring, or new vegetation), forming a natural metaphor — the west wind heralds the new growth of spring, which then bears fruit. Carpo, one of the Horae, is in some ways the feminine equivalent of Karpos; her dominion was autumn, ripening, and harvesting.
The story, told in Nonnus's Dionysiaca, tells about the love of two youths, Karpos and Kalamos, son of Maiandros (god of the Maeander river). Karpos drowned in the Meander river while the two were competing in a swimming contest and in his grief, Kalamos allowed himself to also drown. He was then transformed into a water reed, whose rustling in the wind was interpreted as a sigh of lamentation.
The word Karpos derives from the Proto-Indo-European language root *kerp-. Cognates can be found in many Indo-European languages including modern English in words such as "harvest" (via Germanic), "carpet", "excerpt" and "scarce" (via Latin). Coming to English directly from the Greek karpos are the following:
- the prefix "carpo-" — meaning fruit. e.g. carpophagous, "fruit-eating"
- the suffixes "-carp" and "-carpous" — also meaning fruit. e.g. ascocarp, pericarp
- Carpel — the female reproductive organ of a flower
- Carpology - the study of fruits and seeds
- Carp — a fruiting body of a fungus
- The proper name Carpophorus (lit. "fruit-bearing")
A well-known expression in Latin is carpe diem ("pluck the day") from the Latin verb carpo, cognate to the Greek karpos.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca, translated by le Comte de Marcellus in 1856. Eglinton 1964: 474.
- R. S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009, p. 149.
- The dictionary definition of Karpos at Wiktionary