Empyrean

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The Divine Comedy's Empyrean, illustrated by Gustave Doré

Empyrean, from the Medieval Latin empyreus, an adaptation of the Ancient Greek ἔμπυρος empyrus "in or on the fire (pyr)", properly Empyrean Heaven, is the place in the highest heaven, which in ancient cosmologies was supposed to be occupied by the element of fire (or aether in Aristotle's natural philosophy).

Use in literature[edit]

A traveller to the edge of the world peers through the celestial spheres at the wonders of the Empyrean beyond. From Camille Flammarion's L'atmosphère (1888).

The Empyrean was thus used as a name for the firmament, and in Christian literature, notably the Divine Comedy, for the dwelling-place of God, the blessed, celestial beings so divine they are made of pure light, and the source of light and creation. The word is used both as a substantive and as an adjective, but empyreal is an alternate adjective form as well. Having the same Greek origin are the scientific words empyreuma and empyreumatic, applied to the characteristic smell of the burning or charring of vegetable or animal matter.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.