locus amoenus One of the most ancient of all nature descriptions, the locus amoenus (Latin for "beautiful place") contains all that is necessary (shade, running water, and greenness) for humans to enjoy a summer's afternoon. It is an entirely separate landscape from the sylva (wild wood) and the hortus inclusus (enclosed garden).
The locus amoenus is the traditional setting of the pastoral and of love—lost, found, or sought. Virgil embedded it in the western psyche through his Eclogues. It remained the preeminent literary landscape, until the rise of the sublime (nature as distinct from beauty) in the 18th century. Because the use of the locus amoenus become so commonplace, only the briefest shorthand description in the lyric became necessary. See also Arcadia, ekphrasis.
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