), a small island off the coast of Campania, situated between Cape Misenum (from which it is distant less than 3 miles) and the larger island of Aenaria or Ischia.
In common with the latter it is of volcanic formation, and appears to have been subject in ancient times to frequent earthquakes. Pliny and Strabo even tell us that it was a mere fragment broken off from the neighbouring island of Aenaria by one of the violent convulsions of nature to which it was subject.
But this statement certainly has no historical foundation, any more than another, also recorded by Pliny, that both islands had been thrown up by volcanic action from beneath the sea. Such an event, however true as a geological inference, must have long preceded the historical era. (Strab. i. p.60
, ii. p. 123, v. pp. 248, 258; Plin. Nat. 2.88
The same phenomena led the poets to associate Prochyta with Aenaria or Inarime, in connection with the fable of the giant Typhoeus [AENARIA
]; and Silius Italicus even assigned it a giant of its own, Mimas. (Verg. A. 9.715
; Sil. Ital. 8.542
; Ovid. Met.
Virgil's epithet of “Prochyta alta” is less appropriate than usual,--the island, though girt with perpendicular cliffs, being flat and low, as compared either with Ischia
or the neighbouring headland of Misenum.
There does not appear to have been any town on the island in ancient times. Statius (Stat. Silv. 2.276
) terms it a rugged island, and Juvenal (Sat.
3.5) speaks of it as a wretched and lonely place of residence.
At the present day, on the contrary, it is one of the most fertile and flourishing spots in the Neapolitan dominions, its whole area being cultivated like a garden and supporting a population of 4000 inhabitants.
It is distant between 2 and 3 miles from Cape Misenum, but only about a mile and a half from the nearest point of the mainland, which is now known as the Monte di Procida.