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OSTEO´DES (Ὀστεώδης), a small island in the Tyrrhenian sea, lying off the N. coast of Sicily, and W. of the Aeolian Islands. Diodorus tells us that it derived its name (the Bone Island) from the circumstance, of the Carthaginians having on one occasion got rid of a body of 6000 turbulent and disaffected mercenaries by landing them on this island, which was barren and uninhabited, and leaving them there to perish. (Diod. 5.11). He describes it as situated in the open sea, to the west of the Liparaean or Aeolian Islands; a description which applies only to the island now called Ustica. The difficulty is, that both Pliny and Ptolemy distinguish USTICA (Οὐστίκα) from Osteodes, as if they were two separate islands (Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14; Ptol. 3.4.17). The former writer says, “a Solunte lxxv. M. Osteodes, contraque Paropinos Ustica.” But as there is in fact but one island in the open sea W. of the Lipari Islands (all of which are clearly identified), it seems certain that this must have been the Osteodes of the Greeks, which was afterwards known to time Romans as Ustica, and that the existence of the two names led the geographers to suppose they were two distinct islands. Mela does not mention Ustica, but notices Osteodes, which he reckons one of the Aeolian group; and its name is found also (corruptly written Ostodis) in the Tabula, but in a manner that affords no real clue to its position. (Mel. 2.7.18; Tab. Peut.

Ustica is an island of volcanic origin, about 10 miles in circumference, and is situated about 40 miles N. of the Capo di Gallo near Palermo, and 60 miles W. of Alicudi, the westernmost of the Lipari Islands. It is at this day well inhabited, and existing remains show that it must have been so in the time of the Romans also. (Smyth's Sicily, p. 279.)


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.8
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 5.11
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.4
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