This article is about the mythical Greek land. For the fictional continent in Clark Ashton Smith's fiction, see Hyperborean cycle.
In Greek mythology, according to tradition, the Hyperboreans were a mythical people who lived to the far north of Greece. Their land, called Hyperborea, or Hyperboria ("beyond the Boreas (north wind)"), was perfect, with the Sun shining twenty-four hours a day.
The Greeks thought that Boreas, the god of the north wind, lived in Thrace, and therefore Hyperborei was an unspecified nation in the northern parts of Europe and Asia. Alone among the Twelve Olympians, Apollo was venerated among the Hyperboreans: he spent his winter amongst them. For their part the Hyperboreans sent mysterious gifts, packed in straw that came first to Dodona and then were passed from people to people until they came to Apollo's temple on Delos (Pausanias). Theseus and Perseus also visited the Hyperboreans.
In Greek maps from the time of Alexander the Great, Hyperborea, shown variously as a peninsula or island, is located beyond France and has a greater latitudinal than longitudinal extent. Apparently Hyperborea is a combined notion of present day Britain and Norway/Sweden. Other description put in the general area of the Ural Mountains.
What is remarkable about Hyperborea is that it was one of several terrae incognitae to the Greeks and Romans, where Pliny and Herodotus, as well as Virgil and Cicero, reported that people lived to the age of one thousand and enjoyed lives of complete happiness. According to Herodotus (4.13) the Hyperboreans lived beyond the Arimaspians and were visited by Aristeas, who is said to have written a hexameter poem (now lost) dealing with them. Hesiod mentioned the Hyperboreans, Herodotus reported, "and Homer also in the Epigoni, if that be really a work of his". Also, the sun was supposed to rise and set only once a year in Hyperborei. Large quantities of gold were here, guarded by griffins.