Imaginary Islands in the Hellenistic Era Utopia on the Geographical Map

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Accounts of idyllic islands, both real and imaginary, are incorporated in various Hellenistic literary works. Similar motifs may be detected in descriptions of existent isles, such as Lipara and Lesbos, and legendary isles, notably Euhemerus’ Panchaea and Iambulus’ Island of the Sun. This study concentrates on the geographical facet of the accounts of the imaginary, utopian, islands. While the original descriptions of these islands are lost, most are preserved by Diodorus of Sicily, and references may be traced in other Hellenistic authors’ works. Inspecting these accounts and comparing them to descriptions of real islands as well as to descriptions of utopian (and dystopian) places found in other authors, this study demonstrates that the Hellenistic writers, inspired by the events of their day, regarded the utopian isles as part of the oikoumenē. The impression left by the geographical developments following Alexander’s campaign and the impact of Caesar’s deeds are evident.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMyths on the Map
Subtitle of host publicationThe Storied Landscapes of Ancient Greece
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780198744771
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Greta Hawes and Oxford University Press 2017.


  • Alexander
  • Caesar
  • Diodorus
  • Dystopia
  • Euhemerus
  • Hellenistic
  • Iambulus
  • Island
  • Utopia


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