Odysseus and Calypso in the caves of Ogygia.
Painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder 1568–1625
Ogygia /oʊˈdʒɪdʒiə/; Ancient Greek: Ὠγυγίη
Ōgygíē [ɔːɡyɡíɛː], or Ὠγυγία Ōgygia [ɔːɡyɡíaː]
is an island mentioned in Homer's Odyssey,
Book V, as the home of the nymph Calypso,
the daughter of the Titan Atlas, also known
as Atlantis Ατλαντίς in ancient Greek.
In Homer's Odyssey, Calypso detained Odysseus
on Ogygia for seven years and kept him
from returning to his home of Ithaca,
wanting to marry him. Athena complained
about Calypso's actions to Zeus, who sent
the messenger Hermes to Ogygia to order
Calypso to release Odysseus. Hermes
is Odysseus's great grandfather on his mother's
side, through Autolycos. Calypso finally,
though reluctantly, instructed Odysseus
to build a small raft, gave him food and wine,
and let him depart the island. The Odyssey
describes Ogygia as follows: ...and he Hermes
found her within. A great fire was burning
in the hearth, and from afar over the isle there
was a fragrance of cleft cedar and juniper
as they burned. But she within was singing
with a sweet voice as she went to and fro
before the loom, weaving with a golden shuttle.
Round about the cave grew a luxuriant wood,
alder and poplar and sweet-smelling cypress,
wherein birds long of wing were wont to nest,
owls and falcons and sea-crows with chattering
tongues, who ply their business on the sea.
And right there about the hollow cave ran
trailing a garden vine, in pride of its prime,
richly laden with clusters. And fountains four
in a row were flowing with bright water hard
by one another, turned one this way, one that.
And round about soft meadows of violets
and parsley were blooming... Calypso's Cave
in Xagħra, Gozo. According to Maltese tradition
this was the cave of Calypso and Odysseus.
Ogygia or Phaeacia have been associated
with the putative sunken Atlantis. A long-standing
tradition begun by Euhemerus in the late 4th
century BC and supported by Callimachus,
endorsed by modern Maltese tradition, identifies
Ogygia with the island of Gozo, the second
largest island in the Maltese archipelago.
Aeschylus calls the Nile Ogygian, and Eustathius
the Byzantine grammarian said that Ogygia
was the earliest name for Egypt, while other
locations for Ogygia include the Ionian Sea.
Many modern scholars are reluctant to place
Ogygia or indeed any of the locations Homer
describes in any existing geography,
and the literary tale is acknowledged
as a work of fictional mythical intent.
Geographical account by Strabo,
Approximately seven centuries after Homer,
the Alexandrian geographer Strabo criticized
Polybius on the geography of the Odyssey.
Strabo proposed that Scheria and Ogygia
were located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
At another instance he Polybius suppresses
statements. For Homer says also, 'Now after
the ship had left the river-stream of Oceanus',
and, 'In the island of Ogygia, where is the navel
of the sea', where the daughter of Atlas lives;
and again, regarding the Phaiakians, 'Far apart
we live in the wash of the waves, the farthermost
of men, and no other mortals are conversant
with us.'All these clearly suggest that he composed
them to take place in the Atlantic Ocean."
Geographical accounts by Plutarch also give
an account of the location of Ogygia: First I
will tell you the author of the piece, if there
is no objection, who begins after Homer’s
fashion with an isle Ogygian lying far out at sea,
distant five days’ sail from Britain, going
westwards, and three others equally distant
from it, and from each other, are more
opposite to the summer visits of the sun;
in one of which is the barbarians' fable that
Cronus is imprisoned by Zeus, whilst his
son lies by his side, as though keeping
guard over those islands and the sea,
which they call ‘the Sea of Cronus.’
The great continent by which the great
sea is surrounded on all sides, they say,
lies less distant from the others, but
about five thousand stadia from Ogygia,
for one sailing in a rowing-galley;
for the sea is difficult of passage
and muddy through the great number
of currents, and these currents issue
out of the great land, and shoals are
formed by them, and the sea becomes
clogged and full of earth, by which it
has the appearance of being solid.
The passage of Plutarch has created
some controversy. W. Hamilton indicated
the similarities of Plutarch's account
on "the great continent" and Plato's
location of Atlantis in Timaeus 24E – 25A.
Kepler in his Kepleri Astronomi Opera
Omnia estimated that “the great continent”
was America and attempted to locate Ogygia
and the surrounding islands. Ruaidhrí Ó
Flaithbheartaigh used Ogygia as a synonym
for Ireland in the title of his Irish history,
Ogygia: Seu Rerum Hibernicarum Chronologia
"Ogygia: Or a Chronological Account of Irish Events"
Ogygia is associated with the Ogygian deluge and with the mythological figure Ogyges, in the sense that the word Ogygian means "primeval", "primal", and "at earliest dawn", which would suggest that Homer's Ogygia was a primeval island. However, Ogyges as a primeval, aboriginal ruler was usually sited in Boeotia, where he founded Thebes there, naming it Ogygia at the time. In another account of Ogyges, he brought his people to the area first known as Acte. That land was subsequently called Ogygia in his honor but ultimately known as Attica.