eternal punishmentinfernoinfernal
C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce (1945) borrows its title from William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793) and its inspiration from the Divine Comedy as the narrator is likewise guided through Hell and Heaven. Hell is portrayed here as an endless, desolate twilight city upon which night is imperceptibly sinking. The night is actually the Apocalypse, and it heralds the arrival of the demons after their judgment. Before the night comes, anyone can escape Hell if they leave behind their former selves and accept Heaven's offer, and a journey to Heaven reveals that Hell is infinitely small; it is nothing more or less than what happens to a soul that turns away from God and into itself.

Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy describes Dante's journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso); he is first guided by the Roman poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, the subject of his love (and of another of his works, La Vita Nuova). While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for most modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and knowledge to appreciate.


purgatorialpurgationForsaken Soul
In his Divine Comedy story Purgatorio, Mount Purgatory is split into different terraces for those being made to be ready for heaven. At the top of Mount Purgatory is the Garden of Eden. In the 1991 film Defending Your Life, "purgatory is like Paradise City" in which "souls hang around awaiting the verdict of their hearings." The TV series Sleepy Hollow uses purgatory as the world of the dead and undead, with characters often forced to travel to purgatory to find key items or rescue important allies. The movie Gabriel takes place in purgatory, which the Fallen Angels have transformed into a Dark City.

The Great Divorce

The Great Divorce is a theological dream vision by C. S. Lewis, in which he reflects on the Christian conceptions of Heaven and Hell. The working title was Who Goes Home? but the final name was changed at the publisher's insistence. The title refers to William Blake's poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. The Great Divorce was first printed as a serial in an Anglican newspaper called The Guardian in 1944 and 1945, and soon thereafter in book form. Lewis's diverse sources for this work include the works of St.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Proverbs of Hell
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is probably the most influential of Blake's works. Its vision of a dynamic relationship between a stable "Heaven" and an energized "Hell" has fascinated theologians, aestheticians and psychologists. Aldous Huxley took the name of one of his most famous works, The Doors of Perception, from this work, which in turn also inspired the name of the American rock band The Doors. Huxley's contemporary C. S. Lewis wrote The Great Divorce about the divorce of Heaven and Hell, in response to Blake's Marriage. According to Michel Surya, the writer Georges Bataille threw pages of Blake's book into the casket of his friend and lover Colette Peignot on her death in 1938.

The Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's ProgressChristianBeulah
C. S. Lewis wrote a book inspired by The Pilgrim's Progress, called The Pilgrim's Regress, in which a character named John follows a vision to escape from The Landlord, a less friendly version of The Owner in The Pilgrim's Regress. It is an allegory of C. S. Lewis' own journey from a religious childhood to a pagan adulthood in which he rediscovers his Christian God. Henry Williamson's The Patriot's Progress references the title of The Pilgrim's Progress and the symbolic nature of John Bunyan's work. The protagonist of the semi-autobiographical novel is John Bullock, the quintessential English soldier during World War I.

Paradise Lost

epic poemsame nameAwake, arise, or be forever fall'n.
In a similar vein, critic and writer C.S. Lewis argued that there was no contradiction in Milton's position in the poem since "Milton believed that God was his 'natural superior' and that Charles Stuart was not." Lewis interpreted the poem as a genuine Christian morality tale. Other critics, like William Empson, view it as a more ambiguous work, with Milton's complex characterization of Satan playing a large part in that perceived ambiguity. Empson argued that "Milton deserves credit for making God wicked, since the God of Christianity is 'a wicked God.'" Leonard places Empson's interpretation "in the [Romantic interpretive] tradition of William Blake and Percy Bysshe Shelley."

River Lethe in popular culture

C. S. Lewis refers to Lethe in The Great Divorce when he writes, “‘It is up there in the mountains, very cold and clear, between two green hills. A little like Lethe. When you have drunk of it you forget forever all proprietorship in your own works". The Spirit who talks about the fountain is describing Heaven to an artist, telling him that soon he will forget all ownership of his work.

Christian mythology

ChristianBiblical mythologyChristian folklore
John Milton's Paradise Lost, which describes Satan's revolution against God and the Fall of Man, and his Paradise Regained, which describes Satan's temptation of Christ. Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, a literary allegory that describes a visit to Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. John Bunyan's ''Pilgrim's Progress, a Christian spiritual allegory. C.S. Lewis's The Pilgrim's Regress, a more modern Christian spiritual allegory. According to some interpretations, C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe allegorically represents Christ's death and resurrection (although Lewis denies that the story is a direct allegory; see section on "Mythopoeia" above).

Paradiso (Dante)

ParadisoParadiseParadiso'' (Dante)
The Paradiso begins at the top of Mount Purgatory, called the Earthly Paradise (i.e. the Garden of Eden), at noon on Wednesday, March 30 (or April 13), 1300, following Easter Sunday. Dante's journey through Paradise takes approximately twenty-four hours, which indicates that the entire journey of the Divine Comedy has taken one week, Thursday evening (Inferno I and II) to Thursday evening. After ascending through the sphere of fire believed to exist in the earth's upper atmosphere (Canto I), Beatrice guides Dante through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven, to the Empyrean, which is the abode of God.

Garden of Eden

Much of Milton's Paradise Lost occurs in the Garden of Eden. Michelangelo depicted a at the Garden of Eden in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. In the Divine Comedy, Dante places the Garden at the top of Mt. Purgatory. For many medieval writers, the image of the Garden of Eden also creates a location for human love and sexuality, often associated with the classic and medieval trope of the locus amoenus. One of oldest depictions of Garden of Eden is made in Byzantine style in Ravenna, while the city was still under Byzantine control. A preserved blue mosaic is part of the mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Circular motifs represent flowers of the garden of Eden. * Translated by Willard R.


life after deathhereafterafterlives
After the resurrection, spirits are assigned "permanently" to three degrees of heavenly glory, determined by how they lived – Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial. (1 Cor 15:44–42; Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76) Sons of Perdition, or those who have known and seen God and deny it, will be sent to the realm of Satan, which is called Outer Darkness, where they shall live in misery and agony forever. The Celestial Kingdom is believed to be a place where we can live eternally with our families. Progression does not end once one has entered the Celestial Kingdom, but it extends eternally.

Inferno (Dante)

InfernoDante's InfernoDante's ''Inferno
Inferno (Italian for "Hell") is the first part of Italian writer Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso. The Inferno tells the journey of Dante through Hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine concentric circles of torment located within the Earth; it is the "realm ... of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen". As an allegory, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul toward God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin.

Narrative poetry

narrative poemnarrative poemsnarrative
The Divine Comedy by Dante, Italian epic. Don Juan by Lord Byron. The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats. Cantar de mio Cid, (anonymous) medieval Spanish epic. The Elder Edda (anonymous). The Iliad and the Odyssey attributed to Homer. The Epic of Gilgamesh, (anonymous) ancient Babylonian/Sumerian epic. The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll. The Kalevala, Finnish national epic. Lamia by John Keats. "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien. Os Lusíadas (Portugal's national epic) by Luís de Camões. The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. Virgil's Aeneid, the Roman national epic. Metamorphoses by Ovid.

Catholic Church

CatholicRoman CatholicRoman Catholicism
Heaven is a state of unending union with the divine nature of God, not ontologically, but by grace. It is an eternal life, in which the soul contemplates God in ceaseless beatitude. Purgatory is a temporary condition for the purification of souls who, although destined for Heaven, are not fully detached from sin and thus cannot enter Heaven immediately. In Purgatory, the soul suffers, and is purged and perfected. Souls in purgatory may be aided in reaching heaven by the prayers of the faithful on earth and by the intercession of saints.

Courtly love

In 1936 C. S. Lewis wrote The Allegory of Love further solidifying courtly love as a "love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, Adultery, and the Religion of Love". Later, historians such as D. W. Robertson, Jr., in the 1960s and John C. Moore and E. Talbot Donaldson in the 1970s, were critical of the term as being a modern invention, Donaldson calling it "The Myth of Courtly Love", because it is not supported in medieval texts.

William Blake

BlakeBlakeanBlake, William
A Song of Liberty (edited 1792, published in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). The Four Zoas* (written 1797–1807, unfinished). Tiriel* (written c. 1789, edited 1874). Mary Wollstonecraft, Original Stories from Real Life (1791). John Gay, Fables by John Gay with a Life of the Author, John Stockdale, Picadilly (1793). Gottfried August Bürger, Leonora (not engraved by him) (1796). Edward Young, Night-Thoughts (1797). Robert Blair, The Grave (1805–1808). John Milton, Paradise Lost (1808). John Varley, Visionary Heads (1819–1820). Robert John Thornton, Virgil (1821). The Book of Job (1823–1826). John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress (1824–1827, unfinished). Dante, Divine Comedy (1825–1827).

The Screwtape Letters

Screwtape Letters
The Screwtape Letters is a Christian apologetic novel by C. S. Lewis and dedicated to J. R. R. Tolkien. It is written in a satirical, epistolary style and while it is fictional in format, the plot and characters are used to address Christian theological issues, primarily those to do with temptation and resistance to it. First published in February 1942, the story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter. The uncle's mentorship pertains to the nephew's responsibility in securing the damnation of a British man known only as "the Patient".


The narrative describes Dante's travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise or Heaven, while allegorically the poem represents the soul's journey towards God. Dante draws on medieval Christian theology and philosophy, especially Thomistic philosophy and the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. Consequently, the Divine Comedy has been called "the Summa in verse". In Dante's work, Virgil is presented as human reason and Beatrice is presented as divine knowledge. The work was originally simply titled Comedia (so also in the first printed edition, published in 1472).

Axis mundi

world pillarmoundbridge between heaven and earth
It is the essence of the journey described in The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. The epic poem relates its hero's descent and ascent through a series of spiral structures that take him from through the core of the earth, from the depths of Hell to celestial Paradise. It is also a central tenet in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Anyone or anything suspended on the axis between heaven and earth becomes a repository of potential knowledge. A special status accrues to the thing suspended: a serpent, a victim of crucifixion or hanging, a rod, a fruit, mistletoe.

Entering Heaven alive

In C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength, those who ascended to heaven alive included Melchizedek, Frederick Barbarossa, King Arthur and Elwin Ransom. In C. S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Reepicheep the Mouse is permitted to travel into Aslan's Country while alive. He is next seen in The Last Battle where he is the first to greet the protagonists when they arrive at Aslan's Country. In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, Elves who grow weary of life in Middle-earth may sail west to the Undying Lands. A few mortals also follow this route, including Eärendil, the Ring-bearers Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, and Sam Gamgee, and the Dwarf Gimli.

Summa Theologica

Summa TheologiaeSummaSTh
Not only has the Summa Theologiae been one of the main intellectual inspirations for Thomistic philosophy, but it also had such a great influence on Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, that Dante's epic poem has been called "the Summa in verse."

The Chronicles of Narnia

NarniaChronicles of NarniaNarnia books
Jacobs, Alan The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, HarperSanFrancisco, 2005. McIntosh, Kenneth Following Aslan: A Book of Devotions for Children, Anamchara Books, 2006. Ward, Michael Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis, Oxford University Press, 2008. C. S. Lewis entry at BBC Religions. The secret of the wardrobe BBC News, 18 November 2005.

A. N. Wilson

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'Sweetly Poisonous in a Welcome Way' On ANW's biography of C.S. Lewis.

Miguel Asín Palacios

AsínAsín on mystical analogies in Saint Teresa of Avila and IslamAsín Palacios
The Divine Comedy. Ibn 'Arabi. Al-Ghazali. Ibn Hazm. Emilio García Gómez. Luce López-Baralt. James T. Monroe.