locus amoenus

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‘pleasant spot’, a phrase used by modern scholars to refer to the set description of an idyllic landscape, typically containing trees and shade, a grassy meadow, running water, song‐birds, and cool breezes. The tradition goes back to Homer's descriptions of the grotto of Calypso and the garden of Alcinous; the rural setting for the dialogue in Plato's Phaedrus was much imitated. In Theocritus' and Virgil's Eclogues such landscapes form the backdrop for the songs and loves of shepherds. Horace criticizes the fashion for such descriptions. This perfect nature is also the setting for the innocence of the golden age and the blessedness of the Elysian Fields (see elysium); among real places the vale of Tempē was idealized as a locus amoenus. There was an analogous fashion for ideal landscapes in Roman wall‐painting. See gardens.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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