When nature creates miracles, man does not stand with folded arms; he takes a brush, a pen, a stone, a wood, a camera … and creates! That’s precisely how, I sincerely believe, one of the most famous songs in the world was created; the Odyssey. The island of Mljet, that magical island in the south of Dalmatia, gathered all shades of blue and green to show God and the world its incomparable beauty of existence. Logically, this beauty becomes the inspiration for the oldest record (as a continuation of the Iliad) of Western civilization from the end of the 8th century BC.
Even then, Mljet is attracted to its beauty, according to legends; Gods, nymphs, and the famous hero Odysseus.
When you go to Croatia, bring a camera, so you can always remember it!
Many researchers believe that the immortal Homer, when describing the island of the nymph Calypso, meant Mljet because Odysseus, captured by the goddess of beauty, peace, and silence, Calypso, lived there on the beautiful Adriatic Mljet 3000 years ago.
On the Mljet island, a great and wise warrior succumbed to the irresistible goddess’s charms and the beauties of her island, about which the legend says:
“… it was the most beautiful island of all seas and oceans …”
This peculiarity of the climate, attractive bays, crystal caves, and beaches of the mythical island of Ogigija coincides with the unique beauties of Mljet, which do not resemble any other island in the Mediterranean. According to the famous Greek myth, the nymph Calypso, the daughter of Atlantis, settled on the legendary Ogygia.
When the ancient Greek hero Odysseus was returning home after many years of adventurous wandering in the seas, a powerful storm occurred. His ship sank, and the sea threw him to the enchanted island of Ogygia, the then kingdom of the beautiful villa Calypso. After the shipwreck in the waters of Scylla and Charybdis, more precisely, in our Great and Little Gate, the only survivor was Odysseus. With the last of his strength, he swam the Mljet Channel and reached Kalipsin’s island of Ogygia. The sea carried him towards the shore, in the bay of Okuklju, where he lay unconscious on the beach until he noticed the locals, whose governess was the nymph Calypso. She ordered them to bring him to her Galičnjak cave. There she provided the necessary assistance to Odysseus and lived with him for several years, preventing him from leaving her island.
She fell in love with him, and bound him to herself, assuring him that she would make him eternally young and immortal if he married her.
For seven years, she, the goddess of beauty, silence, and peace, kept Odysseus on her beautiful island. But by order of the God Zeus, she freed him. She is ordered to release him by the messenger god Hermes, who has been sent by Zeus in response to Athena‘s plea.
From that mythical connection, Odysseus and Calypso had twin sons: Nausinoa and Nausitoa.
Aristid Vučetić from Dubrovnik claimed that Mljet was Calypso’s island of Ogigija. Because Mljet is the only one among the southernmost Dalmatian islands to have a cave, which by its natural characteristics, corresponds to the residence of the nymph Calypso, in his book on Odysseus’ wanderings along Adriatic coast, Vučetić proved that Mljet is that miraculous island. As the nymph Calypso lived to very old age, the inhabitants of Mljet called her estate – ‘babina’ (an archaism, often use in the southern parts of Croatia, meaning grandma’s). Even nowadays, among the inhabitants of Mljet, there is a legend; in ancient times, the owner of the whole island was a grandmother who lived like a queen, and that is the famous Calypso … «.
Aristid Vučetić wrote: “On the open sea to the south, which the islanders call Pelag (Greek Pelagos), there is a deserted islet: the cliff/rock Ogiran, which is the only remnant of Homer’s Ogygia by its name. In the popular Indo-European languages, the word Ogiran has no meaning, so it would be logical to conclude that it originates from the forgotten and over time distorted original name of the island of Mljet – Ogigi.
The island legend also explains that Odysseus landed on the bare cliff of Ogiran, a mile away from the southern coast of Mljet, which originally means Ogygia. There, near the rock of Ogiran, there is also Odysseus’ cave on the mainland (which the people still call Jama), and to which Odysseus swam and took refuge …
The plants and birds that Homer sings about still exist today on Mljet.
After seven years, Zeus ordered Calypso to let Odysseus go home to Ithaca, where his wife and son were waiting for him. Although this was not to Calypso’s liking, she nevertheless ordered her servants to build a raft with which Odysseus would sail to Greece.
According to Vučetić, the raft was built in today’s Saplunari bay (on the southeast coast of Mljet), and its sails were made of a ditch. Calypso supplied Odysseus with enough food and wine for the journey, and sad hearts accompanied him to Saplunara. When he finally left Ogygia, Odysseus, accompanied by the mistral, sailed southeast to the land of the Feachans, and to his native Ithaca.
Another proof of his stay on Mljet, were stars; the star Orion was Odysseus’ landmark on the open sea all the way to Corfu, as was the Great Bear, always to his left. Vučetić said that the stars in the fall, when Odysseus sailed, were arranged precisely like that, and that the constellation Ursa Major was visible all night, which is not the case today.
The legend of Odysseus has always provoked numerous controversies about which of the Mediterranean islands is the mythical Ogygia where the Greek hero was imprisoned. Many scholars have struggled to discover this mysterious island, and it is most commonly interpreted to be Malta. However, no island, not even Malta, matched the description created thousands of years ago by the imagination of a blind Hellenic poet. Finally, historians agreed that only one island in the Mediterranean suits the name of the island of the nymph Calypso; that island is in the Adriatic Sea, and today we call it Mljet.