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Meaning of “A Fools’ Paradise” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

A Fools’ Paradise

“Fowele’s Parays, a well joyful place.” —St. Brandon: a 14th-century MS.

A fools’ paradise is a state of foolish, though it may appear happy, illusion.

Ancient theologians, being human, and having human limitations in outlook, divided the future state into compartments. Besides Paradise, or state of everlasting bliss, and Hades (Sheol), the pit of everlasting death, there was a “Limbo” (Latin, Limbus: a border, or edge). Dante makes Limbo a place on the confines of Hell, and is specially for those unfortunate souls, “the praise less and the blameless dead,” who have done nothing to deserve Heaven nor Hell (Inferno, Iv, 1300).

Even this state of Limbo was compartmented. There was a “Limbus Patrum,” a halfway home between Purgatory and Paradise for holy men who await Christ’s “Second Coming”; a “Limbus Puerorum,” a children’s Paradise for infants not “baptized,” and too young to have committed sin ; and a “Limbus Fatuorum,” for mental defectives and others who did stupid, but not sinful, things. This is the “Paradise of Fools.” Milton sends the priesthood here:

Then might ye see Cowls, hoods, and habits, with their wearers, tort And fluttered into rags; then relics, beads, Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls, The sport of winds ; all these up whirled aloft, Fly . . . into a limbo large and broad, since called “The Paradise of Fools.”

—Paradise Lost, Ht. 489.

These different classes of persons, in their several spheres, have apparently been consigned to states of doubtful happiness; as their case seems one of utter hopelessness. Hence, when we say that a person is “living in a fools’ paradise,” we mean that such one is entertaining unrealisable hopes, or living in anticipation of impossible good fortune.


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