Elysium

Elysium

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Elysium is a conception of the afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

 that evolved over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects, and cults. Initially separate from Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

, admission was initially reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, expanding to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life. The Elysian Fields were, according to the poet Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

, located on the western edge of the Earth by the stream of Oceanus
Oceanus
Oceanus ; , Ōkeanós) was a pseudo-geographical feature in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the world-ocean, an enormous river encircling the world....

. In the time of the Greek oral poet Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

, Elysium would also be known as the Fortunate Isles or the Isles (or Islands) of the Blessed
Fortunate Isles
In the Fortunate Isles, also called the Isles of the Blessed , heroes and other favored mortals in Greek mythology and Celtic mythology were received by the gods into a winterless blissful paradise...

, located in the western ocean at the end of the earth. The Isles of the Blessed would be reduced to a single island by the Thebean
Thebes, Greece
Thebes is a city in Greece, situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain. It played an important role in Greek myth, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus and others...

 poet Pendar
Pendar
Pendar is a Persian word meaning "thought" or "imagination". It is used by Zoroastrians: Pendar-e-Nik is one of the three main pillars of Zoroastriansm, Iran's ancient religion....

, describing it as having shady parks, with residents indulging their athletic and musical pastimes.

The ruler of Elysium varies from author to author; Pindar and Hesiod name Cronus
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

 as the ruler. While the poet Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 in the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

describes fair-haired Rhadamanthus
Rhadamanthus
In Greek mythology, Rhadamanthus was a wise king, the son of Zeus and Europa. Later accounts even make him out to be one of the judges of the dead. His brothers were Sarpedon and Minos . Rhadamanthus was raised by Asterion. He had two sons, Gortys and Erythrus. Other sources In Greek mythology,...

 dwelling there.

Classical Literature


In Homer’s Odyssey, Elysium is described as a paradise:
The Greek oral poet Hesiod refers to the Isles of the Blessed
Fortunate Isles
In the Fortunate Isles, also called the Isles of the Blessed , heroes and other favored mortals in Greek mythology and Celtic mythology were received by the gods into a winterless blissful paradise...

 in his didactic poem Works and Days
Works and Days
Works and Days is a didactic poem of some 800 verses written by the ancient Greek poet Hesiod around 700 BC. At its center, the Works and Days is a farmer's almanac in which Hesiod instructs his brother Perses in the agricultural arts...

. In his book Greek Religion, Walter Burkert notes the connection with the motif of far-off Dilmun
Dilmun
Dilmun or Telmun is a land mentioned by Mesopotamian civilizations as a trade partner, a source of the metal copper, and an entrepôt of the Mesopotamia-to-Indus Valley Civilization trade route...

: "Thus Achilles is transported to the White Isle
Snake Island (Black Sea)
Snake Island, also known as Serpent Island, , is a Ukrainian island located in the Black Sea near the Danube Delta.The island is populated. A rural settlement of Bile was established in February 2007, which is part of the Vylkove city, Kiliya Raion, Odessa Oblast...

, which may refer to Mount Teide on Tenerife
Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands, it is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 km² and 906,854 inhabitants, 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands. About five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, the...

, whose volcano is often snowcapped and as the island was sometimes called the white isle by explorers, and becomes the Ruler of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, and Diomedes
Diomedes
Diomedes or Diomed is a hero in Greek mythology, known for his participation in the Trojan War.He was born to Tydeus and Deipyle and later became King of Argos, succeeding his maternal grandfather, Adrastus. In Homer's Iliad Diomedes is regarded alongside Ajax as one of the best warriors of all...

 becomes the divine lord of an Adriatic island".
Pindar's Odes describes the reward waiting for those living a righteous life:
In Virgil's
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

, Aeneas
Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

, like Heracles
Heracles
Heracles ,born Alcaeus or Alcides , was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus...

 and Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 before him, travels to the underworld. Virgil describes those who will travel to Elysium, and those who will travel to Tartarus
Tartarus
In classic mythology, below Uranus , Gaia , and Pontus is Tartarus, or Tartaros . It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides beneath the underworld. In the Gorgias, Plato In classic mythology, below Uranus (sky), Gaia (earth), and Pontus...

:
Virgil goes on to describe an encounter in Elysium between Aeneas and his father Anchises
Anchises
In Greek mythology, Anchises was the son of Capys and Themiste . His major claim to fame in Greek mythology is that he was a mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite . One version is that Aphrodite pretended to be a Phrygian princess and seduced him for nearly two weeks of lovemaking...

. Virgil's Elysium knows perpetual spring and shady groves, with its own sun and lit by its own stars: solemque suum, sua sidera norunt.
In the Greek historian Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

's, Life of Sertorius, Elysium is described as:

Post-Classical Literature



Elysium as a pagan expression for paradise would eventually pass into usage by early Christian writers.

In Dante's
DANTE
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

 epic The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

, Elysium is mentioned as the abode of the blessed in the lower world; mentioned in connexion with the meeting of Aeneas with the shade of Anchises in the Elysian Fields.
In the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, the heroic population of the Elysian Fields tended to outshine its formerly dreary pagan reputation; the Elysian Fields borrowed some of the bright allure of paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

. In Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, the Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strip of real estate in the world. The name is...

 retain their name of the Elysian Fields, first applied in the late 16th century to a formerly rural outlier beyond the formal parterre
Parterre
A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern. Parterres need not have any flowers at all...

 gardens behind the royal French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 palace of the Tuileries.

After the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, an even cheerier Elysium evolved for some poets. Sometimes it is imagined as a place where heroes have continued their interests from their lives. Others suppose it is a location filled with feasting, sport, song; Joy is the "daughter of Elysium" in Friedrich Schiller
Friedrich Schiller
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life , Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...

's ode "To Joy"
Ode to Joy
"Ode to Joy" is an ode written in 1785 by the German poet, playwright and historian Friedrich Schiller, enthusiastically celebrating the brotherhood and unity of all mankind...

.

When in William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's Twelfth Night shipwrecked Viola is told "This is Illyria, lady.", "And what should I do in Illyria? My brother he is in Elysium." is her answer: "Elysium" for her and her first Elizabethan hearers simply means Paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

. Similarly, in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue....

, Elysium is mentioned in Act II during Papageno's solo while he describes what it would be like if he had his dream girl: "Des Lebens als Weiser mich freun, Und wie im Elysium sein." ("Enjoy life as a wiseman, And feel like I'm in Elysium.")

In John Ford's
John Ford (dramatist)
John Ford was an English Jacobean and Caroline playwright and poet born in Ilsington in Devon in 1586.-Life and work:...

 1633 tragedy 'Tis Pity She's a Whore
'Tis Pity She's a Whore
'Tis Pity She's a Whore is a tragedy written by John Ford. It was likely first performed between 1629 and 1633, by Queen Henrietta's Men at the Cockpit Theatre. The play was first published in 1633, in a quarto printed by Nicholas Okes for the bookseller Richard Collins...

Giovanni, after sealing his requited love for his sister Annabella with twin oaths, states, "And I'de not change it for the best to come: A life of pleasure in Elyzium".

In the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series(with Greek mythology as its base in the Harry Potter schooling format), by Rick Riordan, Elysium is described as the path for some of the protagonists and antagonists of the series.

Sports


Elysian Fields is the name given to the wide fairway of the Long Par 5 14th Hole at The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland

Elysian Fields is also the name of an intermediate (blue) skiing piste at the Hellenically-themed American winter sports resort called Greek Peak.

Modern Influence


The term and concept of Elysium has had influence in modern popular culture, reference to Elysium can be found in literature, art, film, and music. Examples include in the New Orleans neighborhood of Elysian Fields in Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

' A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire (play)
A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1947 play written by American playwright Tennessee Williams for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948. The play opened on Broadway on December 3, 1947, and closed on December 17, 1949, in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The Broadway production was...

as the déclassé purgatory where Blanche Dubois lives with Stanley and Stella Kowalski. New Orleans' Elysian Fields also provides the second act setting of Elmer Rice
Elmer Rice
Elmer Rice was an American playwright. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his 1929 play, Street Scene.-Early years:...

's The Adding Machine
The Adding Machine
The Adding Machine is a 1923 play by Elmer Rice; it has been called "... a landmark of American Expressionism, reflecting the growing interest in this highly subjective and nonrealistic form of modern drama." The story focuses on Mr. Zero, an accountant at a large, faceless company. After 25 years...

. In his poem Middlesex
Middlesex
Middlesex is one of the historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time...

, John Betjeman
John Betjeman
Sir John Betjeman, CBE was an English poet, writer and broadcaster who described himself in Who's Who as a "poet and hack".He was a founding member of the Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture...

 describes how a few hedges "Keep alive our lost Elysium - rural Middlesex again". In his poem An Old Haunt, Hugh McFadden
Hugh McFadden
Hugh McFadden is an Irish poet, literary editor, executor and freelance journalist.-Early life:McFadden was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, where he lived briefly, and then moved to County Donegal, Republic of Ireland, before moving to Dublin...

 sets an Elysian scene in Dublin's St. Stephen's Green
St. Stephen's Green
St Stephen's Green is a city centre public park in Dublin, Ireland. The park is adjacent to one of Dublin's main shopping streets, Grafton Street, and to a shopping centre named for it, while on its surrounding streets are the offices of a number of public bodies and the city terminus of one of...

 park "Very slowly solitude slips round me in St. Stephen's Green. I rest: see pale salmon clouds blossom. I'm back in the fields of Elysium". In Spring and All
Spring and All
William Carlos Williams's Spring and All is a volume published in 1923 by Robert McAlmon's Contact Publishing Co. It is a hybrid work made up of alternating sections of prose and free verse...

, William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams was an American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism. He was also a pediatrician and general practitioner of medicine, having graduated from the University of Pennsylvania...

 describes a dying woman's "elysian slobber/upon/the folded handkerchief".

In David Gemmell
David Gemmell
David Andrew Gemmell was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell's works display violence, yet also explore...

's Parmennion series (Lion of Macedon and Dark Prince) and his Troy trilogy, his characters refer to Elysium as the "Hall of Heroes". In Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Loraine Sassoon CBE MC was an English poet, author and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon's...

's "Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man
Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man
Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man is a novel by Siegfried Sassoon, first published in 1928 by Faber and Faber. It won both the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, being immediately recognised as a classic of English literature...

", Sassoon writes "The air was Elysian with early summer". Its use in this context could be prolepsis
Prolepsis
Prolepsis may refer to:* Flashforward, in storytelling, an interjected scene that takes the narrative forward* Prolepsis , 1975 work by Arrogance...

, as the British countryside he is describing would become the burial ground of his dead comrades and heroes from World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

Locations named after Elysium exist in North America including Elysian Park, Los Angeles, Elysian, Minnesota, and Elysian Fields, Texas
Elysian Fields, Texas
Elysian Fields is a rural unincorporated community in Harrison County, Texas, United States. It lies 11 miles southeast of the county seat of Marshall....

. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strip of real estate in the world. The name is...

, the most prestigious avenue in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and one of the most famous streets in the world, is French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 for "Elysian Fields." The nearby Élysée Palace
Élysée Palace
The Élysée Palace is the official residence of the President of the French Republic, containing his office, and is where the Council of Ministers meets. It is located near the Champs-Élysées in Paris....

 houses the President of the French Republic
President of the French Republic
The President of the French Republic colloquially referred to in English as the President of France, is France's elected Head of State....

, for which reason "l'Élysée" frequently appears as a metonym for the French presidency. Elysium and Elysian are also used for numerous other road, hotel, apartment building, and business names all over the world.

Elysium is referenced in the Schiller poem which inspired Beethoven's Ode to Joy
Ode to Joy
"Ode to Joy" is an ode written in 1785 by the German poet, playwright and historian Friedrich Schiller, enthusiastically celebrating the brotherhood and unity of all mankind...

 (9th symphony
Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem...

, 4th movement). Elysium is also referenced in Mozart's well known Opera "Die Zauberflöte" (The Magic Flute). It is in Act II when Papageno is feeling very melancholy because he doesn't have a sweetheart or wife and he is drunk singing the song that could be called "Den Mädchen" (The Girls).

Elysium Mons
Elysium Mons
Elysium Mons is a volcano on Mars located in the Elysium Planitia, at , in the Martian eastern hemisphere. It stands about 13.9 km above the surrounding lava plains, and about 16 km above the Martian datum. Its diameter is about 240 km, with a summit caldera about 14 km across...

 is the name given to a volcanic region of Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 and one of its volcanoes. Also, Elysia
Elysia (genus)
Elysia is a genus of sea slugs, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Pleurobranchidae. These animals are colorful sea slugs, and they can superficially resemble nudibranchs, but are not very closely related to them...

is a genus of colorful sea slugs.

In the beginning of the film Gladiator the lead character addresses his troops before a battle telling them they are in Elysium. "Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!"

See also


  • Elysian Fields (band)
    Elysian Fields (band)
    Elysian Fields is a Brooklyn, New York based band founded in 1995 by co-composers Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow . Their music has been sometimes described as "noir rock", due to its sultry, dark and mysterious inflections, be it sonically or lyrically...

  • Elysium in popular culture
    Elysium in popular culture
    -Contemporary music:* Sounds of Elysium 008 - Sunny Lax 2010 Mix * Elysium is the title of Finnish power metal band Stratovarius's 2011 album....

  • The Golden Bough (mythology)
    The Golden Bough (mythology)
    The Golden Bough is one of the episodic tales written in the epic Aeneid, book VI, by ancient Roman poet Vergil , which narrates the adventures of the Trojan hero Aeneas after the Trojan War.-Story:...