Ogygia is the home of Calypso, referred to by Homer in Book V of his Odyssey. It is accepted by some as an island in the Mediterranean that was destroyed by an earthquake before the Bronze Age. The Greek writers Euhemerus in the 4th century BC and Callimachus who flourished in the 3rd century BC, identified the Maltese archipelago as Ogygia. Others have more specifically named the Maltese island of Gozo as Ogygia. Anton Mifsud has pointed out that Herodotus, Hesiod and Diodorus Siculus have all identified the Maltese Islands with Ogygia.
John Vella has added his support to the idea of a Maltese Ogygia in a paper published in the Athens Journal of History (Vol.3 Issue 1) in which he noted that “The conclusions that have emerged from this study are that Homer’s Ogygia is not an imaginary but a reference to and a record of ancient Gozo-Malta.”
Adding to the confusion, Aeschylus, the tragedian (523-456 BC) calls the Nile, Ogygian, and Eustathius, a Byzantine grammarian (1115-1195), claimed that Ogygia was the earliest name for Egypt(j).
Isaac Newton wrote a number of important works including The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended , in which he discussed a range of mythological links to Atlantis, including a possible connection with Homer’s Ogygia. There is now evidence that he concurred(c) with the idea of a Maltese Ogygia in The Original of Monarchies(d).
Strabo referred to “Eleusis and Athens on the Triton River [in Boiotia]. These cities, it is said, were founded by Kekrops (Cecrops), when he ruled over Boiotia (Boeotia), then called Ogygia, but were later wiped out by inundations.”(i) However, Strabo also declared that Ogygia was to be found in the ‘World Ocean’ or Atlantic (j). To say the least, these two conflicting statements require explanation.
Richard Hennig opted for Madeira following the opinion of von Humboldt. Spanuth argued strongly against either Madeira or the Canaries[0017.149] and gave his support to the Azores as the most likely location of Calypso’s Island.. Not unexpectedly the Azores, in the mid-Atlantic, have also been nominated as Ogygia by other 20th century researchers such as Sykes(e) and Mertz. In a 2019 paper(f), Gerard Janssen also placed Ogygia in the Azores, specifically naming the island of Saõ Miguel, which both Iman Wilkens [610.239] and Spanuth [015.226] also claimed. Spanuth added that until the 18th-century Saõ Miguel was known as umbilicus maris, which is equivalent to the Greek term, omphalos thallasses, used by Homer to describe Ogygia in chapter eight of the Odyssey!
Homer in his Odyssey identifies Ogygia as the home of Calypso. The Roman poet Catullus writing in the 1st century BC linked Ogygia with Calypso in Malta(g). However, Gozo’s claim is challenged by those supporting Gavdos in Crete(k). This opinion has been expounded more fully by Katerina Kopaka in a paper published in the journal Cretica Chronica(l), where her starting point is the claim that Gavdos had been previously known as Gozo!>Another Greek claimant is Lipsi(o) in the Dodecanese. We must also add Mljet in Croatia to the list of contenders claiming(p) to have been the home of Calypso. Mljet is also competing with Malta as the place where St. Paul was shipwrecked!
Mifsud quotes another Roman of the same period, Albius Tibullus, who also identified Atlantis with Calypso. Other Maltese writers have seen all this as strong evidence for the existence of Atlantis in their region. Delisle de Sales considered Ogygia to be between Italy and Carthage, but opted for Sardinia as the remains of Calypso’s island.
Other researchers such as Geoffrey Ashe and Andrew Collins have opted for the Caribbean as the home of Ogygia. Another site supports Mesoamerica as the location of Ogygia, which the author believes can be equated with Atlantis(h). An even more extreme suggestion by Ed Ziomek places Ogygia in the Pacific(b)!
In the Calabria region of southern Italy lies Capo Collone (Cape of Columns). 18th century maps(m) show two or more islands off the cape with one named Ogygia offering echoes of Homer’s tale. Respected atlases as late as 1860 continued to show a non-existent island there. It seems that these were added originally by Ortelius, inspired by Pseudo-Skylax and Pliny(n) . Additionally, there is a temple to Hera Lacinia at Capo Colonne, which is reputed to have been founded by Hercules!
By way of complete contrast, both Felice Vinci and John Esse Larsen have proposed that the Faeroe Islands included Ogygia. In the same region, Iceland was nominated by Gilbert Pillot as the location of Ogygia and Calypso’s home. Ilias D. Mariolakos, a Greek professor of Geology also makes a strong case(a) for identifying Iceland with Ogygia based primarily on the writings of Plutarch. He also supports the idea of Minoans in North America.
A more recent suggestion has come from Manolis Koutlis , who, after a forensic examination of various versions of Plutarch’s work, in both Latin and Greek, also placed Ogygia in North America, specifically on what is now the tiny island of St. Paul at the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada, a gulf that has also been proposed as the location of Atlantis.
Jean-Silvain Bailly also used the writings of Plutarch to sustain his theory of Ogygia, which he equated with Atlantis having an Arctic location[0926.2.299], specifically identifying Iceland as Ogygia/Atlantis with the islands of Greenland, Nova Zembla and Spitzbergen as the three islands equally distant from it and each other.
>The novelist Samuel Butler (1835-1902) identified Pantelleria as Calypso’s Island, but the idea received little support(q).<
However, Ireland has been linked with Ogygia by mainly Irish writers. In the 17th century historian, Roderick O’Flaherty(1629-1718), wrote a history of Ireland entitled Ogygia, while in the 19th century, Margaret Anne Cusack (1832-1899) also wrote a history in which she claimed a more explicit connection. This was followed in 1911 by a book by Marion McMurrough Mulhall in which she also quotes Plutarch to support the linking of Ireland and Ogygia. More recently, in The Origin of Culture Thomas Dietrich promotes the same view, but offers little hard evidence to support it.
This matter would appear to be far from a resolution.
(c) See: Archive 3439
(e) ‘Where Calypso may have Lived’ (Atlantis, 5, 1953, pp 136-137)
(g) Lib. iv, Eleg. 1
(i) Strabo, Geography 9. 2. 18
(n) See: Note 5 in Armin Wolf’s Wayback Machine (archive.org)
Mljet is a Croatian island in the Adriatic nearly opposite Dubrovnik. It is one of the many locations claimed as Homer’s Ogygia, which in turn has been identified by some as Atlantis. This is not the only controversial matter associated with the island, Mljet in Greek is Melite a name it shares with Malta. For centuries there has been a strong tradition on Mljet that St. Paul was in fact shipwrecked on their island. The evidence(a)(b) is quite strong and worthy of investigation.
The claim was expounded in a 1730 monograph by Ignjat Durdevic (Ignazio Giorgi)(1675-1737) who hailed from Dubrovnik. A refutation by the Maltese poet Giovanni Antonio Ciantar (1696-1778) followed a few years later.
Recently, new information in The Geography of Ananias of Širak, written between 592-636 AD, confirms that Saint Paul stayed in Dalmatia following a shipwreck that happened on the Adriatic island of Melita (Mljet)(a).
A 2012 paper, from archaeologist Marija Buzov, adds further support to the claim of Mljet as the site of St. Paul’s shipwreck(g). Interestingly she recounts that there is also the legend of Paul being bitten by a snake according to the traditions of Mljet. However, the idea that he banished snakes from either Mljet or Malta is belied by the existence of snakes on both islands today. It brings to mind the ancient story that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, which, for different reasons, is also untrue as there were never snakes in Ireland.
An extensive and more recent contribution from Fr. Noel Muscat brings the debate up to date (2018). As a native of Malta it was no surprise that he concluded that Malta rather than Mljet was the location of St. Paul’s shipwreck. His essay can now be read online(f).
According to Heinz Warnecke, another serious contender for the location of Paul’s shipwreck is Argostoli near the island of Cephalonia(c). At the other end of the spectrum, Kenneth Humphreys offers evidence, which demonstrates that the entire Pauline story is a concoction(e).
Further rivalry concerns the origin of the name of the toy dog breed, the Maltese. Callimachus around 350 BC attributing the honour to Mljet, while John Caius, physician to Queen Elizabeth I, maintained that he was referring to Melita in the Sicilian Strait.