In Christian theology, a heresiarch (also hæresiarch, according to the Oxford English Dictionary; from Greek: αἱρεσιάρχης, hairesiárkhēs via the late Latin haeresiarcha[1]) or arch-heretic, is an originator of heretical doctrine, or the founder of a sect that sustains such a doctrine.[1]

In this Gustave Dore engraving, Dante and Virgil speak to a Heresiarch trapped within a burning tomb. Dante placed arch-heretics in the Sixth Circle of Hell.


Dante's InfernoEdit

In his Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri represents the heresiarchs as being immured in tombs of fire in the Sixth Circle of Hell. In Cantos IX and X of the Inferno, Virgil describes the suffering these souls experience, saying "Here are the Arch-Heretics, surrounded by every sect their followers... / Like with like is buried, and the monuments are different in degrees of heat."[4] Among the historical figures that Dante specifically lists as arch-heretics are Epicurus, Farinata Degli Uberti, Frederick of Sicily, and Pope Anastasius II.

See alsoEdit