Now had the Almighty Father from above,
From the pure Empyrean where he sits
High Thron’d above all highth, bent down his eye,
His own works and their works at once to view:
About him all the Sanctities of Heaven
Stood thick as Stars, and from his sight receiv’d
Beatitude past utterance; on his right
The radiant image of his Glory sat,
His onely Son;
— Paradise Lost, Book IV, 56-64

From Dante to Milton, the human imagination has conceived of Heaven as a paradisaical realm beyond speech and reckoning. How have imaginative depictions of the afterlife shaped accompanying notions of continuity, eternity, and meaning?

Image: St. Agnes is Received into Heaven by Giovanni Battista Gaulli. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.


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