In Search Of The Island Of Utopia

600px-Utopia.ortelius

A utopia is an imaginary place or society where everything is perfect. It’s derived from Greek “ou” (οὐ) meaning “not” and topos (τόπος) meaning “place”, and it literally means “no place” or “nowhere”. The word was first used in Sir Thomas More’s book Utopia published in 1516 and translated to English in 1551. This political romance portrays a place which has a perfect political and social systems. More made it seems that the island of Utopia really exists. He cleverly concocted a story that Raphael Hythloday (one of the characters in Utopia) was one of the 24 people who accompanied the famous Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci in one of his real life explorations. During Hythloday’s travels in South America, he eventually found the island of Utopia.

A lot of people at the time took it seriously and thought that Utopia was a real place. So, many were excited at the prospect to explore the beautiful island. Even the educated people were fooled. Some even suggested sending missionaries to Utopia to convert the people there to Christianity. Nobody realized that Hythloday’s surname means “talker of nonsense” in Greek, which was a clue given by More to the reader that Utopia is only fictional.

As Tom Fuller remarked in Duke and Halle”s Prolusiones historicæ; or, Essays illustrative of the halle of John Halle (1837):

Among his Latin Books[,] his Utopia beareth the bell, containing the idea of a complete Commonwealth in an imaginary island, (but pretended to be lately discovered in America) and that so lively counterfeited, that many, at the reading thereof, mistook it for a real truth; insomuch that many great learned men, as Budæu and Johannes Paludanus, upon a fervent zeal, wished, that some excellent Divines might be sent thither to preach Christ’s Gospel.

It is unknown if there was ever an expedition to find Utopia.

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

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