A rebel angel, he was originally the team leader of the spiritual world, possessing great power and responsibility. But he turned nasty and tried to set himself up as a rival to God. As a punishment for his rebellious pride, he was cast out of Heaven, along with a rabble of other rebels.
Now Satan rules the infernal regions of Hell, with an army of demons to do his bidding. Out of pure malice and vengeance, he aims to overthrow the established order by turning humans against God. Using every trick in the book, he spreads evil whispers, plants the seeds of doubt, and tempts the unwary to fall from grace. But judge ye not. It’s all in a day’s work — as the Bible itself states, he is only doing his job. God employs him to do all manner of things for his own mysterious reasons.
Satan relishes his role of troublemaker and tempter. And let’s face it, he’s pretty good at his job. No wonder Jesus called him the Prince of this World.
What does Satan look like? Answer: anything he likes. According to legend, his appearance ranges from the demonic to the smart. He can have the traditional horns, scales, a forked tail, the head of a goat, cloven feet — or turn up as a smooth dude in the latest Italian suit. But there’s always more to him than meets the eye; his own eyes can glow like red-hot coals.
As with most things in Christianity, older legends and rival religions had a strong influence on the concept of Satan. The Persian baddie Ahriman was sucked in — and popular Gods such as Baal were twisted into evil versions such as Beelzebub.
This also happened with Pan, a very popular God whose sexual antics horrified the Church so much that they labeled him the Devil. That is why Satan has goat’s legs and horns. If Pan could sue for libel the Church wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.
Because the Old Testament has little to say on the subject of Satan, the early Christians were free to speculate as they formulated their new theology. What wasn’t already present in Jewish tradition they could plunder from elsewhere or downright invent. This was especially popular in medieval times, when cataloging the attributes of demons and angels was virtually a career. You could almost get a government research grant for it.
Case in point: Satan is also known as Lucifer. Why? Lucifer is a Latin word meaning Light-Bearer. St. Jerome (4th Century) used it to denote the Greek word Heosphoros when he was translating the Bible into Latin. But Heosphoros means ‘morning star’, and the Biblical passage in question (Isaiah 14) is really just taunting the King of Babylon. (“You think you’re as bright as Venus, but God’s gonna get ya!”)
Still, the name stuck and legends of Lucifer sprang up all over. From Light-Bearer to Prince of Darkness. Poor old Venus should sue for libel too.
Satan seems to inspire an eerie fascination and turns up in the most unlikely places. In his devilish guise he leaves bits of himself all over the landscape. Devil’s Elbow, Devil’s Footprints, Devil’s Hollow, Devil’s Chimney, Devil’s Dyke... We think he just likes to be noticed.
Satan Facts and Figures
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names: Ha-Satan, Accuser, The Devil, Prince of Darkness, Diabolos, Old Nick, Stan
Area or people: Judaism, Christianity
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present
In charge of: Evil
Area of expertise: Evil
Good/Evil Rating: NEUTRAL, may not care
Popularity index: 526
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Article last revised on May 14, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.