World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Fortunate Isles

Article Id: WHEBN0000875795
Reproduction Date:

Title: Fortunate Isles  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Elysium, Prime meridian, Heaven, Macaronesia, Mag Mell
Collection: Conceptions of Heaven, Death in Greek Mythology, Locations in Celtic Mythology, Locations in Greek Mythology, Mythological Islands
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Fortunate Isles

In the Fortunate Isles, also called the Isles (or Islands) of the Blessed (occasionally rendered as Isles of the Blest) (μακάρων νῆσοι makárôn nêsoi), heroes and other favored mortals in Greek mythology and Celtic mythology were received by the gods into a winterless blissful paradise. According to Greek mythology, the islands were reserved for those who had chosen to be reincarnated thrice, and managed to be judged as especially pure enough to gain entrance to the Elysian Fields all three times. These islands were thought to lie in the Western Ocean near the encircling River Oceanus; Madeira, Canary Islands, Azores, Cape Verde and Bermuda have sometimes been cited as possible matches.

Flavius Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana (v.2) says, "And they also say that the Islands of the Blessed are to be fixed by the limits of Libya where they rise towards the uninhabited promontory." In this geography Libya was considered to extend westwards through Mauretania "as far as the mouth of the river Salex, some nine hundred stadia, and beyond that point a further distance which no one can compute, because when you have passed this river Libya is a desert which no longer supports a population."

Plutarch, who refers to the "fortunate isles" several times in his writings, locates them firmly in the Atlantic in his vita of Sertorius. Sertorius, when struggling against a chaotic civil war in the closing years of the Roman Republic, had tidings from mariners of certain islands a few days' sail from Hispania:

It was from these men that Sertorius learned facts so beguiling that he made it his life's ambition to find the islands and retire there.

Pliny the Elder's Natural History adds to the obligate description— that they "abound in fruit and birds of every kind"— the unexpected detail "These islands, however, are greatly annoyed by the putrefying bodies of monsters, which are constantly thrown up by the sea".

Ptolemy used these islands as the reference for the measurement of geographical longitude, and they continued to play the role of defining the prime meridian through the Middle Ages.[2] Modern geography names these islands as Macaronesia.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Plutarch, Life of Sertorius, ch. viii.
  2. ^ Wright, John Kirtland (1923). "Notes on the Knowledge of Latitudes and Longitudes in the Middle Ages".  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.