Arcadia is a place that is both a real geographical location, as well as a mythological place from Ancient Greek Mythology. The real Arcadia currently exists in the country of Greece, while the idea of the fictional, mythological Arcadia is coming from the time of history when Ancient Greek mythologies were born. It was and is located in the Peloponnese, a peninsula in southern Greece.
In mythology, Arcadia was a mysterious place, full of mythical creatures living in it, such as nymphs or nature spirits, dryads or tree spirits, centaurs or half-human, half-horse warriors, and other non-human beings, including several gods and goddesses. One of them was thought to be Pan, the god of the wilderness, nature, shepherds, and flocks, but it was believed to be the home of Hermes, the god of thieves, and the messenger of other gods, as well.
Myths describe Arcadia as a true heaven on Earth: a landscape with steep mountains, lush and untouched wildernesses, forests of many kinds, mossy rocks, fresh springs and rivers, colorful flowers and abundant vegetation of various plants.
However, Arcadia also had dark and dangerous areas, especially for punishing those humans who accidentally wandered too deep into the wilderness: a frightening, bubbling land of a vast swamp, the home of the Stymphalian birds, that were man-eater vultures, according to the mythology. These birds were truly intimidating for mere mortals, as they had beaks made of bronze, sharp, metallic feathers that cut the flesh, and droppings that were poisonous, even deadly.
The real-life area of Arcadia in Greece is also a place that’s mostly separated from the rest of the land with tall, continuous ranges of mountains, which could easily serve as the base for such mystical stories to be born and be kept alive over many centuries. Throughout ancient history, Arcadia was often difficult to invade and conquer, due to its location and unique landscape.
Arcadia remained a secret place, something to search for, discover, and yearn for later on during human history, well beyond the Ancient Greek time period. For example, during the centuries of the Renaissance period in Europe, around the 15-16th century, various artists, such as painters, writers, or musicians turned towards ancient history to find inspiration and search for something that’s greater, purer, and more beautiful than human life, something that could represent a better world that’s long lost, but possibly could be found, once again.
The legends of Arcadia were such stories of inspiration to create art about a Golden Age of peace and harmony. One example of such artists is the famous English writer, William Shakespeare, who used settings in several of his works that describe the idyll and the beauties of an imagined land, strongly resembling Arcadia. Another example is the use of pan flutes in renaissance music, which is an instrument thought to be invented by the god Pan, himself, to call his flock of sheep. A pan flute is made of hollow reeds of various lengths to create different pitches of sounds with.
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