Arcadia (utopia)

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Arcadia (Greek: Ἀρκαδία) refers to an ancient civilization of pastoralism and harmony with nature. The Greek province of the same name is the term's origin. Arcadia has developed into a poetic byword for a noble and peaceful wilderness. Arcadia is a poetic place associated with bountiful natural splendor and harmony.[1] The 'Garden' is often inhabited by shepherds. The place is also mentioned in Renaissance mythology.

The inhabitants were often regarded as having continued to live after the manner of the Golden Age.[2] It is also sometimes referred to in English poetry as Arcady. The inhabitants of this region are regarded as living close to nature, peaceful, and virtuous.

Arcadia in antiquity[edit]

According to Greek mythology, Arcadia of Peloponnesus was the domain of Pan, a virgin wilderness home to the god of the forest and his court of dryads, nymphs and other spirits of nature. It was one version of paradise, though only in the sense of being the abode of supernatural entities, not an afterlife for deceased mortals.

Greek mythology inspired the Roman poet Virgil to write his Eclogues, a series of poems set in Arcadia.

Arcadia in the Renaissance[edit]

Thomas Eakins' Arcadia

Arcadia has remained a popular artistic subject since antiquity, both in visual arts and literature. Images of beautiful nymphs frolicking in lush forests have been a frequent source of inspiration for painters and sculptors. As a result of the influence of Virgil in medieval European literature (see, for example, Divine Comedy), Arcadia became a symbol of pastoral peacefulness.

Modern usage[edit]

Further information: Arcadia (disambiguation)

Arcadia has been a popular setting for writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, including W. S. Gilbert (in Happy Arcadia and Iolanthe). One of the most popular Edwardian musical comedies is The Arcadians.[3] In 1945, Evelyn Waugh sub-titled the first part of his novel Brideshead Revisited "Et in Arcadia ego". In Gabriel García Márquez's novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, the founder and patriarch of the Macondo community bears the name José Arcadio Buendía. Over the course of the novel, Arcadio becomes a multigenerational patronym that resonates with many of the other utopian tropes explored elsewhere in the text. In the novel Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, the character of Judge Holden names his rifle "Et in Arcadia ego". In 1993, Tom Stoppard wrote Arcadia (originally to have been titled Et in Arcadia ego), a play involving themes of classical beauty and order in nature. The metal opera Angel of Babylon by Tobias Sammet's Avantasia ends with "Journey to Arcadia". Arcadia (2016) is the title of a new novel by author Iain Pears.

Arcadia were a spin-off musical group formed in 1985 by three members of the band Duran Duran. Rock band The Libertines have referenced Arcadia as the destination their imaginary ship Albion sails towards. Canadian music producer Deadmau5 has a song called Arcadia. The Kite String Tangle also have a song titled Arcadia.

In fantasy literature, Arcadia has been used as a magical realm, respective to the fictional universe in which the story occurs. Arcadia Darell is the name of a character in Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov. In the anime series Captain Harlock, the ship in which he travels is known as the Arcadia. He calls it the place "to fight and live for our freedom [and dreams]". In the recent movie Resident Evil: Extinction, the characters seek to travel to Arcadia, Alaska, which is promised to be free of zombies. In Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D, it is revealed that Arcadia refers to the USS Arcadia, a ship that collects survivors for experimentation.

A number of role-playing games have also adopted the idea, either using it as a separate realm within the multiverse (à la the Arcadia of the Dungeons & Dragons universe), or even using it as the central focus of an entire game system (as in White Wolf's Changeling: The Dreaming game). In Changeling: The Lost, Arcadia is presented as a hellish realm, where humans abducted by the True Fae are subject to unimaginable torment and torture, in sharp contrast to its usual utopian description. Dragonhaven, a young adult fantasy novel by Robin McKinley, ends with the phrase "Arcadiae vias peregrinentur," which the author has stated roughly translates to "May they walk in Arcadia". According to the best-selling PC-game The Longest Journey, Arcadia was divided from the primordial original world, and represents fantasy, dreams and magic, while our world, Stark, is the world of science and technology. In the game Bioshock, Arcadia is a level in which the protagonist has to navigate through an artificial forest. Arcadia was created by Dr. Julie Langford. This forest provides the oxygen for the rest of the underwater city of Rapture, and was used as a peaceful retreat for the citizens. Arcadia is the name of the world in the Sega Dreamcast game Skies of Arcadia in which the inhabitants live on floating islands and continents, and fly through the skies in airships. "Neo Arcadia" is the name given to the now center-of-the-world paradise city in the post-apocalyptic world of the Mega Man Zero series, as a place where humans and reploids live together side by side, though the Neo Arcadian government proves to be overbearing & ruthless in the fight against mavericks, going so far as to unjustly condemn innocent reploids to retirement(i.e. death). As such, they are the main antagonistic force throughout the majority of the "Zero" series.

The name has recently been connected with the pseudo-history of the Freemasons - in particular the Latin motto "Et in Arcadia ego" ("Even here, I [Death] exist.") The phrase is used frequently in conspiracy fiction and lore, such as the pseudo-historical work Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the novel The Da Vinci Code, where it is interpreted as an anagram of I! Tego Arcana Dei ("Begone! I know the secrets of God").

Arcadia is now the name of many cities and towns around the world. Arcadia University is a college located in Glenside, Pennsylvania, USA. The plotlands of Wales and England have been referred to by media and local Government as Arcadia.

Arcadia is also the name given to the second-city of the Time Lord's home-planet Gallifrey in the British sci-fi TV series Doctor Who. The Gods of Arcadia is a sci-mythology series by Andrea Stehle. It is a world in mankind's future controlled by the gods of ancient Greece.

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