Fortunate Isles

The Fortunate Isles or Isles of the Blessed[1][2] (Greek: μακάρων νῆσοι, makárōn nêsoi) were semi-legendary islands in the Atlantic Ocean, variously treated as a simple geographical location and as a winterless earthly paradise inhabited by the heroes of Greek mythology. The related idea of Brasil and other islands in Celtic mythology are sometimes conflated with the Greek sense of islands in the western Mediterranean: Sicily, the Aeolian Islands, the Aegadian Islands or other smaller islands of Sicily. Later on the islands were said to lie in the Western Ocean near the encircling River Oceanus; Madeira, the Canary Islands, the Azores, Cape Verde, Bermuda, and the Lesser Antilles have sometimes been cited as possible matches.


According to Greek mythology, the islands were reserved for those who had chosen to be reincarnated three times, and managed to be judged as especially pure enough to gain entrance to the Elysian Fields all three times.[3] A feature of the fortunate islands is the connection with the god Cronus; the cult of Cronus had spread and connected to Sicily, in particular in the area near Agrigento where it was revered and in some areas associated with the cult of the Phoenician god Baal.


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:

...where the air was never extreme, which for rain had a little silver dew, which of itself and without labour, bore all pleasant fruits to their happy dwellers, till it seemed to him that these could be no other than the Fortunate Islands, the Elysian Fields.[4]

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.

The islands are said to be two in number separated by a very narrow strait and lie 10,000 furlongs ( 2,000 kilometers / 1,250 miles ) from Africa. They are called the Isles of the Blessed. [...]

Moreover an air that is salubrious, owing to the climate and the moderate changes in the seasons, prevails on the islands. The North and East winds which blow out from our part of the world plunge into fathomless space and, owing to the distance, dissipate themselves and lose their power before they reach the islands, while the South and West winds that envelop the islands sometimes bring in their train soft and intermittent showers, but for the most part cool them with moist breezes and gently nourish the soil. Therefore a firm belief has made its way, even to the barbarians, that here are the Elysian Fields and the abode of the Blessed of which Homer sang.

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".

The Isles are mentioned in Book II of A True History by the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata. The author makes fun of the heroes residing there by giving an account of their petty squabbles as presented to the court of the magistrate, Rhadamanthus. He goes on to describe other observations of how the residents occupy their time, using every opportunity to satirise both contemporary life and Greek mythology.

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.[5] Modern geography names these islands as Macaronesia.

Lucio Russo, in L'America dimenticata,[6] puts forward the bold hypothesis (supported by means of statistical methods) that the Fortunate Isles were actually the Lesser Antilles and that Hipparchus knew their longitude with remarkable precision.

See also


  1. ^ AncientHistoryMaps (1697), Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Ancienne - Sanson, retrieved 2018-03-17
  2. ^ Sanson, Nicolas (1697). "Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Ancienne - Sanson". Archived from the original on 2016-04-01. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  3. ^ Pindar, Olympian Ode 2. 57 ff
  4. ^ Plutarch, Life of Sertorius, ch. viii.
  5. ^ Wright, John Kirtland (1923). "Notes on the Knowledge of Latitudes and Longitudes in the Middle Ages". Isis. 5 (1): 75–98. doi:10.1086/358121. JSTOR 223599.
  6. ^ Lucio Russo, L'America dimenticata. I rapporti tra le civiltà e un errore di Tolomeo (2013)

Avalon (; Latin: Insula Avallonis, Welsh: Ynys Afallon, Ynys Afallach; literally meaning "the isle of fruit [or apple] trees"), sometimes written Avallon or Avilion, is a legendary island featured in the Arthurian legend. It first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 1136 pseudo-historical account Historia Regum Britanniae ("The History of the Kings of Britain") as the place where King Arthur's sword Excalibur was forged and later where Arthur was taken to recover from his wounds after the Battle of Camlann. Avalon was associated from an early date with mystical practices and figures such as Morgan le Fay. It is traditionally identified as the former island of Glastonbury Tor.


Coblynau are mythical gnome-like creatures that are said to haunt the mines and quarries of Wales and areas of Welsh settlement in America.

Like the Knockers of Cornish folklore they often help miners to the richest veins of ore or other treasures by their peculiar knocking sound. They appear dressed in miniature mining outfits, work constantly but never finish their task. They are said to be half a yard (1.5 ft) tall, very ugly, but often friendly and helpful.

The word Coblynau is related to the English word Goblin and may derive from a Germanic source akin to the German Kobold, via the French Gobelin.Coblynau are mentioned in the Constantine episode "The Darkness Beneath", but the description of the creatures given is closer to knockers.


The Dullahan () (also called Gan Ceann, meaning "without a head" in Irish), is a type of fairy in Irish mythology.


Elysium or the Elysian Fields (Ancient Greek: Ἠλύσιον πεδίον, Ēlýsion pedíon) is a conception of the afterlife that developed over time and was maintained by some Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults. Initially separate from the realm of Hades, admission was reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, it expanded 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 Homer, located on the western edge of the Earth by the stream of Okeanos. In the time of the Greek oral poet Hesiod, Elysium would also be known as the Fortunate Isles or the Isles (or Islands) of the Blessed, 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 poet Pindar, describing it as having shady parks, with residents indulging in athletic and musical pastimes.The ruler of Elysium varies from author to author: Pindar and Hesiod name Cronus as the ruler, while the poet Homer in the Odyssey describes fair-haired Rhadamanthus dwelling there.

Faerie (DC Comics)

Faerie, The Fair Lands or The Twilight Realm is one of two fictional otherdimensional homelands for the Faerie, as published by DC Comics. The Vertigo Comics realm of Faerie is an amalgam of the mythological realms of Álfheimr, Otherworld, the Fortunate Isles, Tír na nÓg and Avalon. This mix is heavily influenced by Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is home to the faeries and other mythical races, ruled over by the Seelie Court and King Auberon and Queen Titania. Faerie debuted in The Books of Magic #3, and was created by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess.


In Norse mythology, Gimlé (alternately Gimli as in Icelandic) is a place where the worthy survivors of Ragnarök are foretold to live. It is mentioned in the Prose Edda and the Eddic poem "Völuspá" and described as the most beautiful place in Asgard, more beautiful than the sun.

Island of the Jewel

The Island of the Jewel (Arabic: Jazīrat al-Jawhar‎) or Island of Sapphires (Arabic: Jazīrat al-Yāqūt‎) was a semi-legendary island in medieval Arabic cartography, said to lie in the Sea of Darkness near the equator, forming the eastern limit of the inhabited world.

The island does not appear in any surviving manuscript of Ptolemy's Geography nor other Greek geographers. Instead, it is first attested in the Ptolemaic-influenced Book of the Description of the Earth compiled by al-Khwārizmī around 833. Ptolemy's map ended at 180° E. of the Fortunate Isles without being able to explain what might lay on the imagined eastern shore of the Indian Ocean or beyond the lands of Sinae and Serica in Asia. Roman missions subsequently reached the Han court via Longbian (Hanoi) and Chinese Muslims traditionally credit the founding of their community to the Companion Saʿd ibn Abi Waqqas as early as the 7th century. Muslim merchants such as Soleiman established sizable expatriate communities; a large-scale massacre is recorded at Yangzhou in 760 amid the An Shi Rebellion against the Tang. These connections showed al-Khwārizmī and other Islamic geographers that the Indian Ocean was not closed as Hipparchus and Ptolemy had held but opened either narrowly or broadly.

The four chorographic maps of the AD 1037 manuscript of al-Khwārizmī—including that of the Island of the Jewel—are the oldest surviving maps from the Islamic world. Al-Khwārizmī gave the Island of the Jewel as the easternmost point of the inhabited world. His gazetteer is divided by categories but altogether he provides coordinates for its coast, three cities, its surrounding chain of mountains, and two summits on the interior. It lies in the Sea of Darkness near the equator, east of his equivalent of Ptolemy's Golden Peninsula (Malaysia) and east of the still larger phantom peninsula—now usually known as the Dragon's Tail—which replaced Ptolemy's unknown eastern shore of the Indian Ocean. Its center was given at 173° east of al-Khwārizmī's prime meridian off west Africa and 2° north of the equator.It subsequently appeared in the world map of the Book of Curiosities—where it is labelled "The Island of the Jewel, and its mountains encircle it like a basket" or "like scales"—and in other medieval Arabian and Persian texts.

It is now typically identified with one of the Indonesian islands or with Taiwan, although al-Khwārizmī's description seems to borrow from Ptolemaic and legendary accounts of Taprobane (Sri Lanka).


A kilmoulis is, in the folklore of the Anglo-Scottish border, an ugly version of the brownie who is said to haunt mills. He has an enormous nose and no mouth. This lack of an orifice forces him to inhale his food through his nose. The Kilmoulis works hard for the miller, but also delights in tricks and pranks. While his pranks may be a hindrance, he is generally enough help to offset the food he eats and the disturbances he causes. In popular culture, it was used in the Dungeons & Dragons game as a fey creature.

Lycus of Fortunate Isles

In Greek mythology, Lycus (/ˈlaɪkəs/; Ancient Greek: Λύκος Lúkos, "wolf") also called Lycaon, son of Poseidon and Celaeno, one of the Pleiades. Together with his brother Eurypylus, they ruled over the Isles of the Fortunate which their father blessed.

Mag Mell

In Irish mythology, Mag Mell (modern spelling: Magh Meall, meaning "plain of joy") was a mythical realm achievable through death and/or glory. Unlike the underworld in some mythologies, Mag Mell was a pleasurable paradise, identified as either an island far to the west of Ireland or a kingdom beneath the ocean. However, Mag Mell was similar to the fields of Elysium in Greek mythology, and like the fields of Elysium, was accessible only to a select few. Furthermore, Mag Mell, like the numerous other mystical islands said to be off the coast of Ireland, was never explicitly stated in any surviving mythological account to be an afterlife. Rather, it is usually portrayed as a paradisal location populated by deities, which is occasionally visited by some adventurous mortals. In its island guise it was visited by various Irish heroes and monks forming the basis of the Adventure Myth or "echtrae" as defined by Myles Dillon in his book Early Irish Literature. This otherworld is a place where sickness and death do not exist. It is a place of eternal youth and beauty. Here, music, strength, life and all pleasurable pursuits come together in a single place. Here happiness lasts forever, no one wants for food or drink. It is the Irish equivalent of the Greek Elysium or the Valhalla of the Norse.

Legends say its ruler is the Fomorian King Tethra, or more frequently Manannan mac Lir. Mag Mell's allure extended from the pagan era to Christian times. In later stories, the realm is less an afterlife destination than an Earthly Paradise which adventurers could reach by traveling west from Ireland, often blown off course by providential tempests while on an inspired mission. They typically explore many other fantastic islands before reaching their destination and returning home (or sailing on). Among these voyagers are St. Brendan, Bran mac Febal (see The Voyage of Bran), and Mael Dúin.


Neorxnawang (also Neorxenawang and Neorxnawong) is an Old English noun used to translate the Christian concept of 'paradise' in Anglo-Saxon literature. Scholars propose that the noun originally derives from Germanic mythology, referring to a "heavenly meadow" or place without toil or worries.


In Finnish mythology, a Näkki (Estonian: Näkk) is a Neck, a shapeshifting water spirit who usually appears in human form, that resides in murky pools, wells, docks, piers and under bridges that cross rivers.

They are principally known for pulling young children into the depths, if they lean over bridge railings, docks or otherwise look into water surfaces to see their own reflection and touch the water. Näkki is a fine example of a spirit enlisted by parents to guide children away from unsafe practices.

According to Nordic mythology, during Midsummer's night, Näkki rises from the water to dance in the middle of the celebrating people.

It is also said that although Näkki is very beautiful from the front, their backside is hairy and extremely ugly. Other stories tell that a Näkki is an ugly "fishman" which can at will turn itself into a beautiful woman who either is extremely voluptuous or has three breasts or alternatively into a silvery fish, horse or a hound, which are only ways to lure their unwary prey to the water. Näkki is also called Vetehinen or Vesihiisi (water fey, see Hiisi).

Queen Lurline

Queen Lurline is a fictional character in the Oz books by L. Frank Baum and other authors.

The name "Lurline" is a variant of Loreley, the Rhine nymph; the name has been used for ships, and has other associations.


The squasc (pronounced [ˈskwaʃ]) is a mythological being of the Eastern Lombardy region folklore.It is said to be small, hairy, tawny, similar to a squirrel without tail, but with an anthropomorphic face.

Its nature is somehow between that of a bad spirit (assimilable to the boogeyman or Blackman) and that of an elf or imp. Like the former, the squasc is summoned to frighten children, but like the latter it loves playing jokes on people, particularly young girls.

The Entertainment at Althorp

The Entertainment at Althorp, or The Althorp Entertainment, is an early Jacobean era literary work, written by Ben Jonson. It is also known by the alternative title The Satyr. The work marked a major development in Jonson's career, as the first of many entertainments and masques that he would write for the Stuart Court.

The entertainment was designed to welcome the members of the new royal family to England during their progress from Edinburgh to London. It was performed on 25 June 1603, before the new queen consort, Anne of Denmark, and her son Prince Henry, at Althorp, the Northamptonshire estate of the Spencer family. (The then-head of the family, Sir Robert Spencer, was created 1st Baron Spencer of Wormleighton less than a month later, on 21 July 1603.) The main speaker in the entertainment is a satyr, yielding the alternative title, and the cast includes fairies and elves — a blending of figures from both classical and native English folklore that Jonson would employ in future works as well (see, for example, The Fortunate Isles and Their Union of 1625). The new queen is personified as Queen Mab.

Under its full title, A Particular Entertainment of the Queen and Prince their Highness at Althorp, the work was entered into the Stationers' Register on 19 March 1604, and was published later that year in a quarto that also included Jonson's The Coronation Triumph. The quarto was printed by Valentine Simmes for the bookseller Edward Blount. The entertainment was reprinted in the first folio collection of Jonson's works in 1616, and was thereafter included in the collected works.

Jonson's attempt to win royal favor during the previous reign had not succeeded: his play Cynthia's Revels was poorly received when acted at Court in 1601, and he gained no preferment from Queen Elizabeth. Jonson fared much better in the new reign: he wrote several entertainments in the early Jacobean era, and in 1605 his first Court masque, The Masque of Blackness, was staged at Whitehall Palace. From then till Chloridia in 1631, Jonson was the most regularly employed masque writer for the Stuarts. He produced a major segment of his total literary output for their court, and received a large share of his income from those works.

The Fortunate Isles and Their Union

The Fortunate Isles and Their Union is a Jacobean era masque, written by Ben Jonson and designed by Inigo Jones, and performed on 9 January 1625. It was the last masque acted before King James I, (who died two months later on 27 March), and therefore the final masque of the Jacobean era.

The Summerland

The Summerland is the name given by Theosophists, Wiccans and some earth-based contemporary pagan religions to their conceptualization of an afterlife.


Uçmag (also spelled: Uçmag, Uçmak, Ocmah, Uçmah) (pronounced: Utchmaq) is heaven in Turk- and Altaic mythology. It is the opposite of Tamag. The souls of the righteous people dwell in heaven after death.

Afterlife locations

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.