Definitions

demon

demon

[dee-muhn]
demon, supernatural being, generally malevolent in character. In general, the more civilized pagan societies came to consider demons as powerful, supernatural beings who lacked the dignity of gods and who, depending on the circumstance, might be either benevolent or malevolent in their dealings with men. Some demons, like the Greek Pan, were nature spirits; others were guardians of the home or fields or watchers over travelers; still others were spirits of disease and insanity or dream spirits. Some demons were considered to be intermediaries between men and the gods. It was not until the development of late Hebraic and Christian thinking that demons came to represent the unqualified malevolence so common in European demonology of the 16th and 17th cent. This period was a high point in the study of demons, in the speculation on their nature, number, and specific fiendishness. The list compiled in 1589 by a demonologist named Binsfield was considered to be highly authoritative; in it he listed the following major demons and their particular evils: Lucifer (pride), Mammon (avarice), Asmodeus or Ashmodai (lechery), Satan (anger), Beelzebub (gluttony), Leviathan (envy), and Belphegor (sloth). The widespread and ancient belief in demons is still a strong force in many regions of the world today. See spiritism; witchcraft.

See R. H. Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology (1959); H. A. Relly, The Devil, Demonology, and Witchcraft (1968); F. Gettings, Dictionary of Demons (1988).

or daemon

In religions worldwide, any of various evil spirits that mediate between the supernatural and human realms. The term comes from the Greek word daimon, a divine or semidivine power that determined a person's fate. Zoroastrianism had a hierarchy of demons, which were in constant battle with Ahura Mazda. In Judaism it was believed that demons inhabited desert wastes, ruins, and graves and inflicted physical and spiritual disorders on humankind. Christianity placed Satan or Beelzebub at the head of the ranks of demons, and Islam designated Iblis or Satan as the leader of a host of evil jinn. Hinduism has many demons, called asuras, who oppose the devas (gods). In Buddhism demons are seen as tempters who prevent the achievement of nirvana.

Learn more about demon with a free trial on Britannica.com.

In religion, folklore, and mythology a demon (or daemon, dæmon, daimon from Greek: δαίμων [ðaïmon]) is a supernatural being that is generally described as a malevolent spirit. In Christian terms demons are generally understood as fallen angels, formerly of God. A demon is frequently depicted as a force that may be conjured and insecurely controlled. The "good" demon in recent use is largely a literary device (e.g., Maxwell's demon), though references to good demons can be found in Hesiod and Shakespeare. In common language, to "demonize" a person means to characterize or portray them as evil, or as the source of evil.

History

The Greek conception of a daemon (< δαίμων daimōn) appears in the works of Plato and many other ancient authors, but without the evil connotations which are apparent in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible and in the Greek originals of the New Testament. The medieval and neo-medieval conception of a "demon" in Western civilization (see the Medieval grimoire called the Ars Goetia) derives seamlessly from the ambient popular culture of Late (Roman) Antiquity. Greco-Roman concepts of daemons that passed into Christian culture are discussed in the entry daemon, though it should be duly noted that the term referred only to a spiritual force, not a malevolent supernatural being. The Hellenistic "daemon" eventually came to include many Semitic and Near Eastern gods as evaluated by Christianity.

The supposed existence of demons is an important concept in many modern religions and occultist traditions. In some present-day cultures, demons are still feared in popular superstition, largely due to their alleged power to possess living creatures.

In the contemporary Western occultist tradition (perhaps epitomized by the work of Aleister Crowley), a demon, such as Choronzon, the "Demon of the Abyss", is a useful metaphor for certain inner psychological processes, though some may also regard it as an objectively real phenomenon.

Some scholars believe that large portions of the demonology (see Asmodai) of Judaism, a key influence on Christianity and Islam, originated in Zoroastrianism, and were transferred to Judaism during the Persian era.

Etymology

The idea of demons is as old as religion itself, and the word demon seems to have ancient origins. The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the etymology of the word as Greek daimon, probably from the verb daiesthai meaning "to divide, distribute." The Proto-Indo-European root *deiwos for god, originally an adjective meaning "celestial" or "bright, shining" has retained this meaning in many related Indo-European languages and cultures (Sanskrit deva, Latin deus, German Tiw, Welsh [Duw],]), but also provided another other common word for demon in Avestan daeva.

In modern Greek, the word daimon(δαίμων) has the same meaning as the modern English demon. But in Ancient Greek, δαίμων meant "spirit" or "higher self", much like the Latin genius. This should not, however, be confused with the word genie, which is a false friend or false cognate of genius.

Psychical history

Psychologist Wilhelm Wundt remarks that "among the activities attributed by myths all over the world to demons, the harmful predominate, so that in popular belief bad demons are clearly older than good ones. Sigmund Freud develops on this idea and claims that the concept of demons was derived from the important relation of the living to the dead: "The fact that demons are always regarded as the spirits of those who have died recently shows better than anything the influence of mourning on the origin of the belief in demons."

Hebrew Bible

Demons as described in the Tanakh are the same as "demons" commonly known in popular or Christian culture.

Those in the Hebrew Bible are of two classes, the se'irim and the shedim. The se'irim ("hairy beings"), to which some Israelites offered sacrifices in the open fields, are satyr-like creatures, described as dancing in the wilderness (Isaiah 13:21, 34:14), and which are identical with the jinn, such as Dantalion, the 71st spirit of Solomon. (But compare the completely European woodwose.) Possibly to the same class belongs Azazel, the goat-like demons of the wilderness (Leviticus 16:10ff), probably the chief of the se'irim, and Lilith (Isaiah 34:14 - where the KJV Bible translates the Hebrew word 'lilith' as "screech owl"). Possibly "the roes and hinds of the field", by which Shulamit conjures the daughters of Jerusalem to bring her back to her lover (Canticles 2:7, 3:5), are faunlike spirits similar to the se'irim, though of a harmless nature.

The evil spirit that troubled Saul (I Samuel 16:14 et seq.) may have been a demon, though the Masoretic text suggests the spirit was sent by God.

Some benevolent shedim were used in kabbalistic ceremonies (as with the golem of Rabbi Yehuda Loevy), and malevolent shedim (mazikin, from the root meaning to damage) are often responsible in instances of possession. Instances of idol worship were often the result of a shed inhabiting an otherwise worthless statue; the shed would pretend to be a God with the power to send pestilence, although such events were not actually under his control.

Influences from Chaldean mythology

In Chaldean mythology the seven evil deities were known as shedu, meaning storm-demons. They were represented in winged bull form, derived from the colossal bulls used as protective genii of royal palaces, the name "shed" assumed also the meaning of a propitious genius in Babylonian magic literature.

It was from Chaldea that the name "shedu" came to the Israelites, and so the writers of the Tanach applied the word as a dylogism to the Canaanite deities in the two passages quoted. But they also spoke of "the destroyer" (Exodus xii. 23) as a demon whose malignant effect upon the houses of the Israelites was to be warded off by the blood of the paschal sacrifice sprinkled upon the lintel and the door-post (a corresponding pagan talisman is mentioned in Isaiah lvii. 8). In II Samuel xxiv; 16 and II Chronicles xxi. 15 the pestilence-dealing demon is called "the destroying angel" (compare "the angel of the Lord" in II Kings xix. 35; Isaiah xxxvii. 36), because, although they are demons, these "evil messengers" (Psalms lxxviii. 49; A. V. "evil angels") do only the bidding of God; they are the agents of His divine wrath.

There are indications that popular Hebrew mythology ascribed to the demons a certain independence, a malevolent character of their own, because they are believed to come forth, not from the heavenly abode of God, but from the nether world (compare Isaiah xxxviii. 11 with Job xiv. 13; Psalms xvi. 10, xlix. 16, cxxxix. 8).

Hebrew demons were workers of harm. To them were ascribed the various diseases, particularly such as affect the brain and the inner parts. Hence there was a fear of "Shabriri" (lit. "dazzling glare"), the demon of blindness, who rests on uncovered water at night and strikes those with blindness who drink of it; also mentioned were the spirit of catalepsy and the spirit of headache, the demon of epilepsy, and the spirit of nightmare.

These demons were supposed to enter the body and cause the disease while overwhelming or "seizing" the victim (hence "seizure"). To cure such diseases it was necessary to draw out the evil demons by certain incantations and talismanic performances, in which the Essenes excelled. Josephus, who speaks of demons as "spirits of the wicked which enter into men that are alive and kill them", but which can be driven out by a certain root, witnessed such a performance in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian, and ascribed its origin to King Solomon.

King and queen

In some rabbinic sources, the demons were believed to be under the dominion of a king or chief, either Asmodai (Targ. to Eccl. i. 13; Pes. 110a; Yer. Shek. 49b) or, in the older Haggadah, Samael ("the angel of death"), who kills by his deadly poison, and is called "chief of the devils". Occasionally a demon is called "satan": "Stand not in the way of an ox when coming from the pasture, for Satan dances between his horns" (Pes. 112b; compare B. Ḳ. 21a).

According to some texts, the queen of demons is Lilith, pictured with wings and long flowing hair, and called the "mother of Ahriman" (B. B. 73b; 'Er. 100b; Nid. 24b). "When Adam, doing penance for his sin, separated from Eve for 130 years, he, by impure desire, caused the earth to be filled with demons, or shedim, lilin, and evil spirits" (Gen. R. xx.; 'Er. 18b.)

Demonology never became an essential feature of Jewish theology. The reality of demons was never questioned by the Talmudists and late rabbis; most accepted their existence as a fact. Nor did most of the medieval thinkers question their reality. Only rationalists like Maimonides and Abraham ibn Ezra, clearly denied their existence. Their point of view eventually became the mainstream Jewish understanding.

Jewish rabbinic literature

Rabbinical demonology has three classes of, demons, though they are scarcely separable one from another. There were the shedim, the ("harmers"), and the ("spirits"). Besides these there were lilin ("night spirits"), ("shade", or "evening spirits"), ("midday spirits"), and ("morning spirits"), as well as the "demons that bring famine" and "such as cause storm and earthquake" (Targ. Yer. to Deuteronomy xxxii. 24 and Numbers vi. 24; Targ. to Cant. iii. 8, iv. 6; Eccl. ii. 5; Ps. xci. 5, 6.)

New Testament and Christianity

"Demon" has a number of meanings, all related to the idea of a spirit that inhabited a place, or that accompanied a person. Whether such a daemon was benevolent or malevolent, the Greek word meant something different from the later medieval notions of 'demon', and scholars debate the time in which first century usage by Jews and Christians in its original Greek sense became transformed to the later medieval sense. It should be noted that some denominations asserting Christian faith also include, exclusively or otherwise, fallen angels as de facto demons; this definition also covers the "sons of God" described in Genesis who abandoned their posts in heaven to mate with human women on Earth before the Deluge (Genesis 6:2, 4, also see Nephilim).

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus casts out many demons, or evil spirits, from those who are afflicted with various ailments. Jesus is far superior to the power of demons over the beings that they inhabit, and he is able to free these victims by commanding and casting out the demons, by binding them, and forbidding them to return. Jesus also apparently lends this power to some of his disciples, who rejoice at their new found ability to cast out all demons.

By way of contrast, in the book of Acts a group of Judaistic exorcists known as the sons of Sceva try to cast out a very powerful spirit without believing in or knowing Jesus, but fail with disastrous consequences. However Jesus himself never fails to vanquish a demon, no matter how powerful (see the account of the demon-possessed man at Gerasim), and even defeats Satan in the wilderness (see Gospel of Matthew).

There is a description in the Book of Revelation 12:7-17 of a battle between God's army and Satan's followers, and their subsequent expulsion from Heaven to earth to persecute humans — although this event is related as being foretold and taking place in the future. In Luke 10:18 it is mentioned that a power granted by Jesus to control demons made Satan "fall like lightning from heaven."

Augustine of Hippo's reading of Plotinus, in The City of God (ch.11) is ambiguous as to whether daemons had become 'demonized' by the early 5th century:

"He [Plotinus] also states that the blessed are called in Greek eudaimones, because they are good souls, that is to say, good demons, confirming his opinion that the souls of men are demons.

The contemporary Roman Catholic Church unequivocally teaches that angels and demons are real personal beings, not just symbolic devices. The Catholic Church has a cadre of officially sanctioned exorcists which perform many exorcisms each year. The exorcists of the Catholic Church teach that demons attack humans continually but that afflicted persons can be effectively healed and protected either by the formal rite of exorcism, authorized to be performed only by bishops and those they designate, or by prayers of deliverance which any Christian can offer for themselves or others.

Christianity

Building upon the few references to daemons in the New Testament, especially the visionary poetry of the Apocalypse of John, Christian writers of apocrypha from the 2nd century onwards created a more complicated tapestry of beliefs about "demons" that was largely independent of Christian scripture.

Origin

According to the Bible, the fall of the Adversary is portrayed in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-19. However, the connection between Isaiah 14:12-14 and the fall is mostly based on mistranslation and tradition. The King James Version (KJV), popular among most Christian sects, reads:

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:12:-14).

The word "Lucifer" was inspired by the Latin Vulgate, a translation that the authors of the KJV adhered to in several occasions to elucidate Christian traditions (see KJV, "The Project"). Lucifer is a Latin word meaning "light-bearer" (from lux, lucis, "light", and ferre, "to bear, bring"), a Roman astrological term for the "Morning Star", the planet Venus. The word Lucifer was the direct translation of the Septuagint Greek heosphoros, ("dawn-bearer"); (cf. Greek phosphoros, "light-bearer") and the Hebrew Helel, ("Bright one"). The word does not specifically refer to Satan. To the contrary, in context, Isaiah 14:12-14 actually refers to one of the popular honorific titles of a Babylonian king (see Isaiah 14:4 for context); however, later interpretations of the text, and the influence of embellishments in works such as Dante's The Divine Comedy and Milton's Paradise Lost, led to the common idea in Christian mythology and folklore that Lucifer was a poetic appellation of Satan (see Lucifer for more information).

Ezekiel 28:12-19, in context, refers to the King of Tyrus (see Ezekiel 28:2 for context). The passage, however, is popularly attributed as a reference to, or allegory of, Satan, and even by some commentators, an allegory of the fall of Adam.

The Christian teachings of [source missing] built upon later Jewish traditions that the Adversary and the Adversary's host declared war with God, but that God's army, commanded by the archangel Michael, defeated the rebels. Their defeat was never in question, since God is by nature omnipotent, but Michael was given the honour of victory in the natural order; thus the rise of Christian veneration of the archangel Michael, beginning at Monte Gargano in 493, reflects the full incorporation of demons into Christianity.

According to tradition, God then cast God's enemies from Heaven to the abyss, into a newly created prison called Hell, where all God's enemies should be sentenced to an eternal existence of pain and misery. This pain is not all physical; for their crimes, these angels, now called demons, would be deprived of the sight of God, this being the worst possible punishment.

An indefinite time later (some biblical scholars believe that the angels fell sometime after the creation of living things), when God created the earth and life, the Adversary and the other demons were allowed to tempt humans or induce them to sin by other means. The first time the Adversary did this was as a serpent in the earthly paradise called the "Garden of Eden" to tempt Eve, who became deceived by Satan's evil trickery. Eve then gave Adam some of the forbidden fruit and both of their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil.

Demonologies

At various times in Christian history, attempts have been made to classify these beings according to various proposed demonic hierarchies.

According to most Christian demonology demons will be eternally punished and never reconciled with God. Other theories postulate a Universal reconciliation, in which Satan, the fallen angels, and the souls of the dead that were condemned to Hell are reconciled with God. This doctrine is today often associated with the Unification Church. Origen, Jerome and Gregory of Nyssa also mentioned this possibility.

In contemporary Christianity, demons are generally considered to be angels who fell from grace by rebelling against God. Some contest that this view, championed by Origen, Augustine and John Chrysostom, arose during the 6th century. Another theory that may have preceded or co-existed with the hypothesis of fallen angels was that demons were ostracized from Heaven for the primary sin of mating with mortal women, giving rise to a race of half-human giants known as the Nephilim. That theory is accepted by some contemporary Christian sects.

There are still others who say that the sin of the angels was pride and disobedience. It seems quite certain that these were the sins that caused Satan's downfall (Ezek. 28). If this be the true view then we are to understand the words, "estate" or "principality" in Deuteronomy 32:8 and Jude 6 ("And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.") as indicating that instead of being satisfied with the dignity once for all assigned to them under the Son of God, they aspired higher.

Hinduism

Hindu mythology include numerous varieties of anthropomorphic beings that might be classified as demons, including Rakshasas (belligerent, shapechanging terrestrial demons), Asuras (demigods), Vetalas (bat-like spirits), and Pishachas (cannibalistic demons).

Asuras

Originally, Asura, in the earliest hymns of the Rig Veda, meant any supernatural spirit—good or bad. Hence even some of the devas (demigods), especially Varuna, have the epithet of Asura. In fact, since the /s/ of the Indic linguistic branch is cognate with the /h/ of the Early Iranian languages, the word Asura, representing a category of celestial beings, became the word Ahura (Mazda), the Supreme God of the monotheistic Zoroastrians. But very soon, among the Indo-Aryans, Asura came to exclusively mean any of a race of anthropomorphic but hideous demons. All words such as Asura, Daitya (lit., sons of the demon-mother "Diti"), Rakshasa (lit. from "harm to be guarded against") are translated into English as demon. These demons are inherently evil and are in a constant battle against the demigods. Hence in Hindu iconography, the gods and demigods are shown to carry weapons to kill the asuras. Unlike Christianity, the demons are not the cause of the evil and unhappiness in present mankind (which occurs on the account of ignorance from recognizing one's true self). In later Puranic mythology, exceptions do occur in the demonic race to produce god-fearing Asuras like Prahalada. Also, many Asuras are said to have been granted boons from one of the members of the Hindu trinity, viz., Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva when the latter had been appeased from penances. All Asuras, unlike the devas, are said to be mortals (though they vehemently wish to become immortal). Many people metaphorically interpret these demons as manifestations of the ignoble passions in human mind.

Evil spirits

On the account of the Hindu theory of reincarnation and transmigration of souls according to one's Karma, other kinds of demons can also be enlisted. If a human does extremely horrible and sinful karmas in his life, his soul (Atman) will, upon his death, directly turn into an evil ghostly spirit, many kinds of which are recognized in the later Hindu texts. These demons could be Grimnex Vetalas, Pishachas, Bhūtas etc.

Pre-Islamic Arab culture

Pre-Islamic mythology does not discriminate between gods and demons. The jinn are considered as divinities of inferior rank, having many human attributes: they eat, drink, and procreate their kind, sometimes in conjunction with human beings. The jinn smell and lick things, and have a liking for remnants of food. In eating they use the left hand. Usually they haunt waste and deserted places, especially the thickets where wild beasts gather. Cemeteries and dirty places are also favorite abodes. When appearing to man, jinn sometimes assume the forms of beasts and sometimes those of men.

Generally, jinn are peaceable and well disposed toward men. Many a pre-Islamic poet was believed to have been inspired by good jinn, but there are also evil jinn, who contrive to injure men.

Islam

See also Islamic creationism

Islam recognizes the existence of the jinn. Jinns are not the "genies" of modern lore, and they are not all evil, as demons are described in Christianity, but as creatures that co-exist with humans.

In Islam the evil jinns are referred to as the shayātīn, or devils, and Iblis (Satan) is their chief. Iblis was the first Jinn who disobeyed Allah. According to Islam, the jinn are made from the light of flame of fire (ناَر [nɛ:r] deviation of نور [nu:r] "light") (and mankind is made of clay).

According to the Qur'an, Iblis was once a pious servant of Allah, but when Allah created Adam from clay, Iblis became very jealous, and arrogant and disobeyed Allah.

Adam was the first man, and man was the greatest creation of Allah. Iblis could not stand this, and refused to acknowledge a creature made of "dirt" (man). Allah condemned Iblis to be punished after death eternally in the hellfire. Allah had created hell.

Iblis asked Allah if he may live to the last day and have the ability to mislead mankind and jinns, Allah said that Iblis may only mislead those whom have forsaken Allah. Allah then turned Iblis's countenance into horridness and condemned him to only have powers of trickery.

Adam and Eve (Hawwa in Arabic) were both together misled by Iblis into eating the forbidden fruit, and consequently fell from the garden of Eden to Earth.

The word "genie" comes from the Arabic jinn. This is not surprising considering the story of `Alā' ad-Dīn, (anglicized as Aladdin), passed through Arabian merchants en route to Europe.

New Age / Shamanism

Carlos Castaneda referred to demonic predators called “flyers” which have the appearance of frightening dark shadows and which vampirize human energy. According to this view ancient humans were complete, with much greater energetic resources than effete, decadent, modern humans possess. At the time when agriculture was invented the flyers gave human beings their mind (constant internal dialogue of beliefs, ideas, social mores, expectations, and dreams of success or failure). By playing on this self-reflection, sucking the angry and worried energy it generates, the flyers began to farm human beings for energy, just as humans began farming animals. Modern humans are the hypnotized slaves of these flyers; and the pseudoconcerns of modern society are a flyer mechanism of mind control.

Science

In thought experiments scientists occasionally imagine entities with special abilities in order to pose tough intellectual challenges or to highlight apparent paradoxes. Examples include:

  • Descartes’ malicious demon - Cartesian skepticism (also called methodological skepticism) advocates the doubting of all things which cannot be justified through logic. Descartes uses three arguments to cast doubt on our ability to objectively know: The dream argument, the deceiving God argument, and the malicious demon argument. Since our senses cannot put us in contact with external objects themselves, but only with our mental images of such objects, we can have no absolute certainty that anything exists in the external world. In the evil demon argument Descartes proposes an entity who is capable of deceiving us to such a degree that we have reason to doubt the totality of what our senses tell us.
  • Laplace's demon - A hypothetical all-knowing entity (later called "Laplace's Demon") who knows the precise location and momentum of every atom in the universe, and therefore could use Newton's laws to reveal the entire course of cosmic events, past and future. Based upon the philosophical proposition of causal determinism. (See also causality).
  • Maxwell's demon - A demon able to distinguish between fast and slow moving molecules. If this demon only let fast moving molecules through a trapdoor to a container, the temperature inside the container would increase without any work being applied. Such a scenario would violate the second law of thermodynamics.

Psychiatry

M. Scott Peck, an American psychiatrist, wrote two books on the subject. .

Peck describes in some detail several cases involving his patients. In People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil he gives some identifying characteristics for evil persons whom he classifies as having a character disorder. In Glimpses of the Devil, A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption Peck goes into significant detail describing how he became interested in exorcism in order to debunk the “myth” of possession by evil spirits – only to be convinced otherwise after encountering two cases which did not fit into any category known to psychology or psychiatry. Peck came to the conclusion that possession was a rare phenomenon related to evil. Possessed people are not actually evil; they are doing battle with the forces of evil. His observations on these cases are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (IV) of the American Psychiatric Association.

Although Peck’s earlier work was met with widespread popular acceptance, his work on the topics of evil and possession has generated significant debate and derision. Much was made of his association with (and admiration for) the controversial Malachi Martin, a Roman Catholic priest and a former Jesuit, despite the fact that Peck consistently called Martin a liar and manipulator. Other criticisms leveled against Peck include misdiagnoses based upon a lack of knowledge regarding dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), and a claim that he had transgressed the boundaries of professional ethics by attempting to persuade his patients into accepting Christianity.

Popular culture

French romance writer Jacques Cazotte (1719-1792) in The Devil in Love (Le Diable Amoureux, 1772) tells of a demon, or devil, who falls in love with an amateur human dabbler in the occult, and attempts, in the guise of a young woman, to win his affections. The book served as inspiration for, and is referred to within, Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novel The Club Dumas (El Club Dumas, 1993). Roman Polanski's 1999 adaptation of the novel, The Ninth Gate, stars Johnny Depp as rare book dealer Dean Corso.

In Mikhail Lermontov's long poem Demon (1840), the Demon makes love to the virgin Tamara in a scenic setting of the Caucasus mountains.

Many classic books and plays feature demons, such as the Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost and Faust.

Anton Rubinstein's lushly chromatic opera The Demon (1875), based on the poem "The Demon" by Michail Lermontov, was delayed in its production because the censor attached to the Mariinsky Theatre felt that the libretto was sacrilegious.

In C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape, a senior demon in Hell's hierarchy, writes a series of letters to his subordinate trainee, Wormwood, offering advice in the techniques of temptation of humans. Though fictional, it offers a plausible contemporary Christian viewpoint of the relationship of humans and demons.

J.R.R. Tolkien sometimes referred to the Balrogs of his Legendarium as "Demons". Morgoth, Sauron, and Thuringwethil could be called demons as well, since they are fallen spirits.

British author Tanith Lee establishes in her Flat Earth Cycle a demonic hierarchy of which Azhrarn, Prince of Demons, occupies the topmost level, and rules over the Eshva and Vazdru demon castes.

The earliest known connection of the word with games is that the British have called a form of solitaire "Demon", from at least the nineteenth century. The selection of this word comes from the observance of a player by others. Formerly, adults nearly always bet on card games. As the player is turned from interaction with others and is forced to move cards around without feeling, the player is metaphorically considered possessed by a demon. "Demon" is called Canfield in the United States.

It has been asserted by some religious groups, demonologists, and paranormal investigators that demons can communicate with humans through the use of a Ouija board and that demonic oppression and possession can result from its use. Skeptics assert that the Ouija board's users move the game's planchette with their hands (consciously or unconsciously) and only appear to be communicating with spirits and that any resulting possession is purely psychosomatic. The original idea for the use of spirit boards was to contact spirits of dead humans and not evil spirits or demons.

Demons sometimes figure in horror films, such as the Dana Andrews vehicle, Night of the Demon, a.k.a. Curse of the Demon. A host of demons figure prominently in the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment of Fantasia.

Tenacious D claim, in the song Tribute, to have been forced to play the best song in the world to save their souls from a shiny demon. This performance is shown in the 2006 movie The Pick of Destiny.

See also

Notes

References

Further reading

  • Oppenheimer, Paul (1996). Evil and the Demonic: A New Theory of Monstrous Behavior. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0814761933.

External links

Search another word or see demonon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;