Paradise was an old European name for the ideally beautiful place of peace and bliss which was Humankind's natural and original home. In Christianity, the word was also associated with the realm of God and the Angels where the faithful could enjoy a non-corporeal afterlife. In both senses, the word makes a good metaphor for any very pleasant spot, especially one which is secluded or remote, like a planet.
In the 17th century John Milton, an English Christian, anti-monarchist, and Cambridge-educated Latin and Greek linguist, wrote the epic poems Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
In 2267, Khan Noonien Singh, assuring James T. Kirk that he could tame Ceti Alpha V, asked if he had read Milton. Kirk clarified this reference for Montgomery Scott, telling him that when Milton's Lucifer fell into the Pit he stated "It is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven." (TOS: "Space Seed")
That same year, Greek god Apollo demanded loyalty, tribute, and worship from the crew of the USS Enterprise, and in exchange he would grant them life in paradise as simple and as pleasureful as it was thousands of years before on Earth. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
Later that year, Spock expressed his concern that the humanoids of Gamma Trianguli VI had been "driven out of paradise" by Kirk's actions there. The two then discussed the mythic role of Satan. (TOS: "The Apple")
Also in 2267, the planet Nimbus III, near the Romulan Neutral Zone, was settled by the United Federation of Planets (UFP). The capital was named Paradise City. Twenty years later, graffiti at the city's entrance quoted Milton. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
Late in 2370, Benjamin Sisko led a party from Deep Space 9 to an M-class planet in the Gamma Quadrant. It had vegetation, fish, and insects but no large animals or predators, leading Sisko to describe it as Paradise. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar")
The word "paradise" comes down to us thanks to Xenophon, a Greek historian and contemporary of Plato. In the 4th century BC he wrote up his adventures as a mercenary late in the previous century under a Persian prince. He recorded the particular custom of that country's gentry, recommended to them by their Zoroastrian religion, of maintaining arbors, or private tree parks. Xenophon gave these arbors the name paradeisos – a use of metonymy, since the word in its original Persian context meant only the perimeter walls that enclosed the arbors. The historian's borrowing with its altered meaning thus entered the mass of Greek literature and language. This and many other aspects of Greek culture were later propagated all around the eastern Mediterranean by the conquering immortal Flint, known to Humans of the period as Alexander. (TOS: "Requiem for Methuselah")
In Egypt a hundred years further on, scholars translating the sacred book of "Genesis" into Greek settled on paradeisos as a way to represent Eden, the home of the first Humans in the Jewish creation myth. The sojourning Sahndarans, if they had not already felt "the death of the Greek culture which they idolized," would soon do so and depart the planet to settle on Platonius. In the 1st millennium AD the Greek version of Genesis became part of Christian canon. The word was borrowed again for the subsequent Latin Genesis and so spread throughout the Roman Empire. In the 13th century the word "paradise" was first borrowed into written English. (TOS: "Plato's Stepchildren")
With its twin meanings, paradise is a powerful idea within and without the Star Trek universe. The word crops up in several episode titles:
- TOS: "This Side of Paradise"
- TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome"
- DS9: "Paradise"
- DS9: "Paradise Lost" - a reference to the poem of the same title by John Milton