Tradition identifies the island with mythical Ogygia, Calypso's isle. In the Acts of the Apostles it is referred to as Claude: "the island of Claudos in which is the town of Claude". It was here St Paul ran aground when he was being taken to Rome to be tried, during one of the persecutions of Christians by the Roman emperors.

The Venetians called it Gotzo. In the Odyssey Homer tells how the wilky Odysseus was shipwrecked in one version of the myth Calypso was the daughter of Atlas and Pleione and in another, of Helios and Perseis.

statue from GavdosCalypso welcomed the handsome Achaean and kept him with her for many years. She offered him immortality to persuade him to stay with her, but not even this inducement by the lovely nymph did the king of Ithaca accept. His great yearning to see his homeland and family again would not allow him become immortal. The nymph lived in a large cave, which you may visit, although it has lost something of its original size and beauty over the years.

Today it is just a cave beside the sea. And nowadays, of course, you will find neither the sacred grove around the cave nor the flower gardens with the pretty flowers, fair fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.

Here Calypso lived in the company of her serving maids, who were also nymphs, amid these dreamlike surroundings: why, therefore, holding the blond Achaean's hand in this divine garden, should the nymph not offer him immortality in exchange for forgetting his homeland and his faithful Penelope?

Odysseus' nostalgic longing to return home was so great that it became known on Olympus. First the goddess Athena, guardian of the family hearth, took pity on his homesickness and begged Zeus, father of gods and men, to order Calypso to let Odysseus return to his country.

Zeus summoned his herald, Hermes, and sent him to Calypso to order her to let Odysseus leave and to assist him on his way. With great sorrow Calypso allowed him to depart. First she helped him to make a raft of wood from the sacred grove, and taught to steer and to navigate by the sun, moon and stars.

Then, when he had loaded a plentiful supply of provisions, Odysseus sailed from the island, leaving the nymph full of grief. Later accounts relate that Odysseus and the nymph had a child, Latinos; one version speaks of two children, Nausithoos and Nausinoos, and another Mentios only one son, Auson.