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See also Hell


Evil, hell, supernatural, underground

Description of this motif:

Evil personified. Hebrew "satan" means opponent. Greek "diabolos" is the word behind "devil". Originally Satan was a helper of Jahve or one of God's sons, but in the antique Judaism he became an independent opponent of God, and he is regarded that way in The New Testament.

One remarkable and amusing description of the devil is in the beginning of the Andersen tale "The Snow Queen".

Example :

"From the third glass a tiny winged imp darts out. You can't call him a little angel, for he has the blood and soul of a goblin, all for jest and mischief. He lurks behind our ear and whispers some queer drollery; he creeps into our heart and warms it until one becomes frolicsome, becomes the great wit in a party of wits.

"In the fourth glass there is neither herb, nor bird, nor fairy. That glass is the boundary line of sense, beyond which you should never, never pass.

"Do you take the fifth glass? Then will you weep over yourself, or laugh with a fierce shout. For out of this glass will spring riotous Prince Carnival, flippant and wild as an elf. He will overcome you, until you forget your dignity, if you ever had any, and forget things you ought not to forget. All is dance and song and revelry; the masks carry you away with them, and the daughters of evil, in silk and flowers, come with flowing hair and alluring charms. Tear yourself loose if you can!

"And the sixth glass! Yes, in that sits Satan himself, a little, well-dressed charming man who never contradicts you, tells you that you are always right. He comes with a lantern to guide you home! What sort of home, and what sorts of spirits live there? There's an old legend about a saint who was ordered to choose one of the seven deadly sins, and chose what he thought was the least – drunkenness. But in it he committed all the other six. Man and the devil mixed with blood – that is the sixth glass; and all the evil seeds within us thrive on it, and each of them sprouts with a force like the grain of mustard, in the Bible, and grows into a mighty tree, spreading out over the whole world.

"Most have nothing before them but to be put into the smelting oven and be cast in a new mold.