1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Isles of the Blest

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ISLES OF THE BLEST, or Fortunate Islands (Gr. αὶ τῶν μακάρων νῆσοι: Lat., Fortunatae Insulae), in Greek mythology, a group of islands near the edge of the Western Ocean, peopled not by the dead, but by mortals upon whom the gods had conferred immortality. Like the islands of the Phaeacians in Homer (Od. viii.) or the Celtic Avalon and St Brendan's island, the Isles of the Blest are represented as a land of perpetual summer and abundance of all good things. No reference is made to them by Homer, who speaks instead of the Elysian Plain (Od. iv. and xi.), but they are mentioned by Hesiod (Works and Days, 168) and Pindar (Ol. ii.). A very old tradition suggests that the idea of such an earthly paradise was a reminiscence of some unrecorded voyage to Madeira and the Canaries, which are sometimes named Fortunatae Insulae by medieval map-makers. (See Atlantis.)