Happy Friday readers! Who else is excited for the weekend? I know I sure am! And to make it even better, the weather is beautiful and spring had finally sprung here on campus! Everything is finally blooming, and it’s just beautiful to see the blue sky and the flowers again! With all these thoughts of beauty and with the topic of gods and what not from yesterday had me thinking about mythology. And since today’s letter is E, what better direction to go in then a trip to the Elysian Fields!
That’s right, today’s topic is Elysium, or more commonly known as the Elysian Fields, which in Greek Mythology is ultimately the hero’s paradise. Throughout my studies, I have taken a few classes that have dealt in the realm of Greek Mythology, and the subject of Elysium has always fascinated me. For those of you who don’t have a background in Greek Mythology here is a definition for you:
Elysium, also called Elysian Fields or Elysian Plain, in Greek mythology, originally the paradise to which heroes on whom the gods conferred immortality were sent. It probably was retained from Minoan religion. In Homer’s writings the Elysian Plain was a land of perfect happiness at the end of the earth, on the banks of the Oceanus River. A similar description was given by Hesiod of the Isles of the Blessed. In the earlier authors, only those specially favoured [sic] by the gods entered Elysium and were made immortal. By the time of Hesiod, however, Elysium was a place for the blessed dead, and, from Pindar on, entrance was gained by a righteous life. Later writers made it a particular part of Hades, as in Virgil, Aeneid, Book VI. – Encyclopedia Britannica
Now I don’t know about you guys, but living for all eternity in a beautiful land with nothing but peace and happiness makes me believe living a righteous life would be well worth it! So now here’s the question, besides in Greek Mythology, where else can we find places such as the Elysian Fields? In my opinion there are all sorts of ways to portray an image of a perfect, “happy” place. And I don’t mean a field of green grass and a beautiful tree (yes I just referenced my image….), I’m talking about not only physical places, but even places in a character’s mind, or maybe a hobby that takes them somewhere they feel safe and happy.
Lets look at a few examples from some novels I’ve recently read. My first example will come from the book, “Hopeless” by Colleen Hoover. In Hoover’s book, her main character Sky’s main hobby is running. She loves to run on a daily basis because it not only makes her feel good about herself, but because it gives her time to herself to just think, or better yet, just escape from the world.
My second example, though much darker, comes from the book “Sometimes Never” by Cheryl McIntyre. McIntyre’s main character, Hope suffers with a bad habit of self-injury. Now, before I move on, please understand that I am in NO WAY condoning or supporting the act of self-injury. If you or someone you know suffers from the habit of self-injury, there are ways to get help. Now, back to the topic at hand. The main character Hope, suffers from the habit of self-injury and when reading her journey, it becomes clear that she does this so she can escape the world and, even if its only for a few seconds, go to her happy place where she doesn’t feel like a poison is running through her body and mind.
Would everyone read these sorts of scenarios as an equivalent to the perfection of the Elysian Fields? Many people I’m sure would disagree with me, but then again, what would literature be without a little bit of controversy! If there is nothing to disagree about, what kinds of conversation are available?
The way I see it is this, if someone can find an escape from the everyday, the norm, and the things that bring them down, then I feel like it could come pretty close to the perfection of the grand mythological fields. Besides, who is to judge where people find their individual forms of perfection and peace? I think it can come from any range of activities, and/or places. What about you? What do you guys think of the subject? Is there anything you do that brings you to a place of peace and/or perfection? Feel free to share and discuss!