previous next

[563] Ἠλύσιον πεδίον perhaps is equivalent to “ἠλύθ-τιον”, as the place ‘where men go.’ Gladstone (Hom. Synchron. 266) quotes from Lauth the Egyptian word Aalu, a field peopled by ‘spirits of light,’ in the East. It represents the sedes discretae piorum, not in Hades, but on the actual surface of the earth, though in the far west. The serene climate of Elysium bears an analogy to the perpetual calm in which the Hyperboreans, according to Hdt. , lived, beyond the cold and storms of the north wind. Homer does not describe the place as an island or as a continent, but Hesiod, Opp. et Di. 168, and Pindar, Ol.2, with later poets, speak of the “μακάρων νῆσοι”. Favoured heroes, such as Rhadamanthus the son of Zeus, Il.14. 322, or Menelaus, his son-in-law, are transported alive to Elysium, (compare the words οὐ θανέειν and βιοτή), and are found there with their actual bodies, not as mere “εἴδωλα καμόντων” like the inhabitants of Hades. The idea is still further worked out by Hesiod, Opp. et Di. 159 foll., where he assigns to the “ἀνδρῶν ἡρώων θεῖον γένος οἳ καλέονται

ἡμίθεοι”, or at least to some of them, such an abode, “τοῖς δὲ δίχ᾽ ἀνθρώπων βίοτον καὶ ἤθἐ ὀπάσσας
Ζεὺς Κρονίδης κατένασσε πατὴρ ἐς πείρατα γαίης”.
. . “καὶ τοὶ μὲν ναίουσιν ἀκηδέα θυμὸν ἔχοντες
ἐν μακάρων νήσοισι παρ᾽ Ὠκεανὸν βαθυδίνην”. Cp. Hor. Epod.16. 63‘Iuppiter ille piae secrevit littora genti
ut inquinavit aere tempus aureum.’ See also Eurip. Hel.1676καὶ τῷ πλανήτῃ Μενέλεῳ θεῶν πάρα
μακάρων κατοικεῖν νῆσόν ἐστι μόρσιμον:
τοὺς εὐγενεῖς γὰρ οὐ στυγοῦσι δαίμονες”,
τῶν δ᾽ ἀναριθμήτων μᾶλλόν εἰσιν οἱ πόνοι”.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
    • Euripides, Helen, 1676
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 159
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 168
    • Homer, Iliad, 14.322
    • Pindar, Olympian, 2
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: