Arcadia: A remote, mountainous region of Greece, in the Peloponnesus, that was popularized and idealized in literature in classical times, particularly by the Roman poet Virgil, who in his Eclogues (c. 40 B.C.) made it the ideal pastoral environment, a place where singing shepherds and shepherdesses peacefully watch over their flocks. Subsequently, in the Renaissance, poets such as Jacopo Sannazzaro, Edmund Spenser, and Sir Philip Sidney incorporated Arcadian settings and themes. Today, the word Arcadia still suggests this supposed golden age, when the virtues of simplicity and harmony reigned supreme in an unchanged and unchanging land uncorrupted by civilization.
FURTHER EXAMPLES: Sannazzaro’s L’Arcadia (1504), which mixes prose and verse; Sidney’s prose romance Arcadia (1590). Nicolas Poussin’s painting “The Arcadian Shepherds” (1647) features four Arcadians at a tomb inscribed “ET IN ARCADIA EGO.”
Tom Stoppard used the term ironically in his play Arcadia (1993). Arcadia is also a plane of existence in the popular role-playing fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons, which first came out in 1974.