Elysium

When people think of the Greek afterlife, they often picture the misty underworld ruled by Hades, or the fiery Tartarus where the Titans were imprisoned. There was, however, a paradise set aside for demigods, heroes and anyone deemed worthy by the Olympians. It was called Elysium.

Elysium – alternatively known as the Elysian Fields or the Fortunate Isles – was a beautiful land said to exist on the western edge of the world. The weather was always fair there, and its denizens were free to wander exotic gardens or bath in its pleasant rivers. It was a concept that eventually helped develop how Christians perceive Heaven.

Olympus

In Ancient Greek mythology, the heavenly abode and political centre for the Twelve Olympian gods was said to be Mount Olympus – from which they took their name – an actual mountain in Greece. Olympus is made up of several peaks, and the citadel of the gods could be found on the tallest, Mytikas, which was known during that period as Pantheon. The Olympians would hold their quarrelsome councils in Zeus’ palace at the heart of the acropolis (highest city), while in the surrounding gorges stood their own splendid homes of gold and marble. As well as his court, Zeus boasted his own isolated peak, Thronos Dios (or Stefani in the modern day), for he alone could be counted as leader of the gods. It was believed that when lightning struck, Zeus was hurling thunderbolts from here, unleashing his divine wrath upon the mortal world.

However, Mount Olympus was not the original home of the Olympians, but rather a stronghold from which they waged war against the tyrannical Titans. Following their victory, they enlisted the god and master smith Hephaestus to build them a beautiful city above the clouds, with courtyards and stables, and a golden gateway through which visitors must enter. It was thought to be so high that it existed above the firmament in a mystical atmosphere known as the Aether. While the mountain’s main occupants were the Twelve Olympians, other deities were sometimes called to assembly there, though mortals were forbidden. Throughout the ages of men, the Olympians would observe the world from their lofty dwellings, interfering as they saw fit, but preferred to spend their time in Olympus debating and feasting.