Philosophy of Joy

Ancient Happy Lands and their European Reception

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Ancient Happy Lands and their European Reception
Human immemorial desire for happiness led to the creation of numerous utopian lands reflected in the works of literature and art. Ancient Greek and Roman myths of Golden Age, Islands of Delight, Elysian Fields and Pastoral Arcadia found their permanent place in the European tradition.

A land without evil, pain, toil or labour. The period of eternal spring not subjected to the passage of time. Utopia of sensitive characters hurt with the brutality of the world. It is an artists’ dream of the place where “poetry comes from” – amongst silence and the beauty of nature without dependence and liabilities, where competition is manifested only by poetic agony. The world is shown ideally ungoverned – anarchic vision taken from the heart of absolutism and tyranny; a retreat from etiquette and social conventions to… artificial simplicity. As a rejection of culture for nature, an escape to “somewhere else”, a costume, disguise, deceit. Like a shelter for unhappy lovers looking for forgetfulness or death or a dream of a land of eternal love where nature is the law, or a mythical period of the lack of sinful covetousness. The place for contemplating God, jardin de cure, claustrum, Paradiso terrestre. „Slow life”. Ecological island of innocent naturalists living on acorns, goat milk and chanting. Eternal holidays. The land which is lost because of human sin and its aspiration for conquest and civilizing, but which also is anticipated in future according to the cyclical and moralist understanding of history, or which is deserved by the noble dead.

In my paper I will present the texts from classical poetry which founded this tradition and discuss their modern reception.

Marja Avberšek, Ljubljana

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