Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Daily Hump: Elysium

In Monday's post I mentioned the asphodel, a flower which is said to bloom in abundance across the pastures of Elysium. The Elysium fields were a sort of Greek Valhalla, serving as an abode for dead heroes and similarly blessed folks. Figuratively, Elysium can be used to describe any place or state of ideal happiness (yet despite its namesake the Champs-Élysées always struck me as rather hellish).

The etymology of Elysium is up for debate (as Wikipedia notes the spelling Elysium is a Latinization of the Greek word Elysion). Depending on who you talk to it's either:

1) "...[A] mysterious name that evolved from a designation of a place or person struck by lightning, enelysion, enelysios."

2) "...[Elysion] may...derive from the Egyptian term ialu (older iaru), meaning "reeds," with specific reference to the "Reed fields" (Egyptian: sekhet iaru / ialu), a paradisiacal land of plenty where the dead hoped to spend eternity."

3) "Biblical scholars have suggested that Elysion may derive from Elisha, who was, according to Genesis, a son of Yawan (Iouan, forefather of the Ionians) and one of the ancestors of the Greeks. Elisha may be worshipped as a god by his earliest descendents."

IMHO, Theory #2 is rather dull. And although I immensely appreciate and admire the fact that the Greeks had a term for people or places struck by lightning (why don't we do that?) it's Theory #3 that I like the most. Why? Simple...Elisha. Not to be confused with Another Bad Creation's pop hit "Ayesha", Elisha was a bald-headed Hebrew prophet with a temper problem. After 42 children mocked Elisha's receding hairline he summoned two she-bears from the woods who proceeded to maul the kids to pieces (II Kings 2:23-24). Awesome!

Elysium [Wikipedia]

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:: posted by David, 8:42 AM


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