Blissful Elysium & the Elysian Fields - An area of Hades, the Underworld
Elysium was the blissful, beautiful area of Hades, the Underworld where the souls of mortals who had led good lives enjoyed a life of peace and happiness. The Underworld as a whole was the domain of the god Hades and other gods and goddesses associated with the inexplicable, such as death, disease, sleep, ghosts, dreams, witchcraft and enchantments. Hades the Underworld consisted of different areas where the souls of dead mortals resided. The souls of mortals who had led good lives were sent to Elysium and resided in the area called the Elysian Fields. The souls of mortals who had led both good and evil lives on earth were sent to the Asphodel Meadows, where they were faced with endless toil. Those mortals that had led evil lives were confined in the dark depths of Tartarus, in the bowels of the earth, where no ray of sunshine ever appeared and the souls of the wicked suffered endless torture.
Definition of Elysium
Definition of Elysium: Elysium was the Ancient Greek paradise originally reserved for the heroes of Greek Mythology to whom the gods had granted immortality. According to ancient Greek mythology Elysium delighted in a perpetual spring and shady groves, with its own sun and lit by its own stars. Elysium was the land of perfect happiness was also the imagined dwelling place for those who had lived a righteous life. Some of the important gods and goddesses of death resided in Elysium living in the golden palace where Hades, the Prince of Darkness and Persephone the Queen of the Underworld presided over their royal court. Other lesser gods resided in the City of Hades which was also located in Elysium. According to mythology Persephone prepared the spirits of worthy women to enter Elysium, strewing flowers along the path she would travel.
Definition of the Elysian Fields
Definition of the Elysian Fields: The Elysian Fields was the blissful, peaceful place inhabited by those who were favored by the gods and where virtuous souls came to rest. In a secluded vale of the Elysian Fields flowed the gentle River Lethe (meaning oblivion), whose waters had the effect of dispelling care, and producing total forgetfulness of former events. In the Elysian Fields the air was always balmy and fragrant, rippling streams flowed peacefully through the golden meadows, which glowed with the colors of a thousand flowers and resounded with the beautiful songs of birds. The inhabitants of the Elysian Fields amused themselves with their favorite pastimes, free of toils and troubles.
Gaining entry into Elysium and the Elysian Fields
The imaginary domain of the Underworld, with its different provinces, including Elysium and the Elysian Fields, was believed to be located in a subterranean region, that was the world of the dead where all souls passed after their time on earth. Elysium and the Elysian Fields were lit by its own sun and stars was the least feared of all the realms as it promised everlasting happiness. However, before gaining entrance to Elysium, the Ancient Greek paradise, and everlasting life in the Elysian Fields mortals had to cross over into Hades, the Underworld and face the judgement of their mortal lives.
Elysium and the Underworld
Elysium and the Elysian Fields were a province of the Underworld. The journey to the imaginary domain of the Underworld had to be travelled by all the souls of the dead, both good and bad. The River Styx was the massive black river that encircled the whole of the Underworld, it was one of five rivers. After facing judgement those souls who had committed heroic deeds and had led a virtuous life were sent to Elysium and the Elysian Fields. The good souls of the dead had to drink from the River Lethe (meaning oblivion & forgetfulness) which made them forget all they had done and suffered when they were on earth in the land of the living.
The Journey into Elysium
The journey of the heroic and virtuous souls into Elysium was not an easy one. The realms of and the facts about the journey to Elysium and the Elysian Fields are described in the following list. The journey followed the following events:
The River Styx: The journey to Hades the underworld across the River Styx and and required payment to Charon the Ferryman. All souls, whether good or bad were required to make this journey.
The Judges of the Dead: Upon arrival in the Underworld, good and bad souls faced the Judges of the Dead, Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus, who judged whether the life of a mortal had been good or evil.
The Confessions: The good and bad souls made confessions about their life on earth and their 'Ker', or life force, was then weighed by the Keres (the Death Spirits) and virtuous souls were identified.
The Judgement: The Judges of the Dead announced that paradise awaited the good souls in Elysium and the Three Fates (Moirai) entered complete record of their mortal lives in the Archives of the Fates, on indestructible tablets of brass and iron
Crossroads of Hecate: The good and evil souls were sent to the Crossroads of Hecate and the virtuous were directed to Elysium and the Elysian Fields
Elysium and the Palace of Hades: The worthy souls proceeded to Elysium and were greeted at the golden palace where Hades and Persephone held their royal court
The Elysian Fields: The virtuous souls then journeyed to the Elysian Fields to live an everlasting life of happiness and contentment
The River Leithe: The souls were directed to drink from the River Lethe in the Elysian Fields ensuring they would forget all they had done and suffered when they were on earth
The blissful Elysian Fields: In the blissful Elysian Fields happy souls enjoyed their favorite amusements they had delighted in on earth
The Return: According to Greek mythology their was a belief that after the shades had inhabited Elysium for 1000 years they were destined to live in other bodies on earth. Before leaving Elysium and the Elysian Fields they first drank from the river Lethe, in order that they might enter upon their new lives without any remembrance of the past.