Satan in the Bible — The Devil and The Evil One (Detailed)

Satan in the Bible - The Devil and The Satan in the Bible - The Devil and The Evil One

Who is Satan in the Bible?

Satan, whose name means the “Adversary”, plays a major role in the Scripture as the opponent of humankind, ordered by Yahweh to test humanity’s faith. He was an angel in the kingdom of heavens who dealt directly with Yahweh (God). In Christianity, Satan became an embodiment of evil. He was pictured as a handsome man with horns, a pointed tail and cloven hoofs.

In this Angels and Demons explained series, we’ve seen a varied mix of wicked entities from both the Bible and various associated texts. But what we haven’t spoken about yet, is the big bad boss of all demons everywhere, the most corrupt and wicked creature in all of Scripture, and perhaps in all walks of life for believers.

Of course, this is the devil, the master of darkness, the ruler of the underworld, and the ultimate adversary of God himself. His name, as many of you might have heard, is Satan, and he also serves as the Nemesis to righteous men and women everywhere.

As the evillest being in most religions, the devil has earned himself a tonne of tropes and features, some of which we’ll aim to look at in greater detail in this article.

From the stories told about him in Scripture to more literal works from Dante’s Divine Comedy, and John Milton’s Paradise. We’ll also be looking at Satan’s many names, what he represents, how he is portrayed in different works, and how his influence and character has evolved over the years.

Classical Depiction of Satan, the Devil

Whilst we often see Satan depicted in a multitude of different ways, that doesn’t appear to be one true way. Across the Bible and other scripture, there doesn’t appear to be an area where Satan is ever described.

It wasn’t until the 9th century did Christian artists begin to depict Satan with horns, hoofs, tails and often or not, as seriously hairy. A pitchfork was also shoved into his hands—though there’s no mention in the scripture that Satan wielded any sort of weapon. In fact, in most cases, he is depicted naked, almost as if to show how much of a shameful figure he is.

When looking at other more modern depictions, he’s a winged humanoid monster that has red eyes, pale skin, and usually sporting the number of the beast somewhere.

Perhaps the first place that many will think to look for Satan is in the Bible. And perhaps one of the most interesting accounts about Satan is in the form of the Book of Revelations.

Satan in the Book of Revelations

It is understood that the angel once known as Lucifer was a close ally to God, a perfect creation of beauty and excellence, a being God cherished above all. But the angel grew arrogant with his position, and since believe that he ought to have been risen above God and that the world and everything in creation ought to have bowed before him.

In his belief, many of the other angels shed his notion, for they believe Lucifer to be more powerful than God and decided to side with him. In Revelation 12:7, we are told that a war broke out in heaven, and many scholars perceive this to be the war between Lucifer and God. In that civil war between angels erupted with one side led by Lucifer and the other by Archangel Michael.

The Fall of Satan in the Books of Revelation
The Fall of Satan in the Books of Revelation

We are told,

‘Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.’

It is believed here that Lucifer transformed into a dragon to defeat Archangel Michael. But in doing so, he was still defeated, and both he and his angels were cast off from heaven. Here, we see this dragon which is thought to have been Lucifer take on the name of Satan, a being who now leads the whole world astray.

Through this section, many believe that Lucifer and Satan are the same beings. Lucifer was the angel who betrayed God and once he has cast out and is no longer an angel, he adopts the new name Satan and becomes something wicked and evil.

But some dispute this, believing that Lucifer was simply a term used by the prophet Isaiah at Isaiah 14:12, where he says, ‘How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weakens the nations!’

By this, some scholars believe that the use of Lucifer here isn’t a name per se, but instead, a description, meaning ‘Lightbringer’ in Latin. Whether Isaiah is referring to Satan as Lucifer because he once was the brightest Angel, or he who shone the brightest, that it is such a shame that he turned out the way he did. In any case, Lucifer has since become synonymous with Satan. The two terms have been interchangeable in most modern cases to describe the devil.

The Names of Satan, the Devil

Lucifer and Satan are just two of the names that the devil has. Well, he’s also known as Beelzebub, the Antichrist, and Moloch.

In the Greek Old Testament, Satan is referred to as Diabolos. But he’s also thought that Diabolos is about wicked people or spirits. Diabolos were also thought to mean ‘Slanderer’, and act as demonstrated by Satan as he slanders the word and name of God.

In early Germanic, the term Diabolos was used, and the equivalent of the term diabolical.

Abaddon is also another term frequently equipped with Satan. Abaddon is a place of destruction in the Old Testament, as well as an angel of death in some interpretations and various laws.

In the classification by Peter Binsfeld (the Seven Princes of Hell), both Lucifer and Satan appear to be two separate entities, in that Lucifer maintains his role as the Demon of Pride, and Satan takes on the role as the Demon of Wrath.

This fits in with the fall of the angels after having been cast out of heaven, in that it was Lucifers pride that led him to be expelled in the first place, which saw him hurtling towards Earth, where he seems to become Satan.

Satan, as mentioned is identified as the demon of wrath from Peter Binsfeld’s classification and this is most fitting given that he becomes vengeful against God and equally vengeful against mankind, those which you’ve used as his enemies.

Satan, an Embodiment of Evil

Going back to the Bible, we understand that Satan becomes the embodiment of all things evil. Satan exists through many different forms to tempt man off the righteous path and does not only because he hates mankind, for their God’s favourite creation, but also to get back at God haven’t defeated him.

It leads us to the idea believed by many that Satan takes the form of the serpent in Genesis, the very same serpent that tempted Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit and the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

It certainly would give the serpent a motive for being so deceitful, because as Satan, he wants nothing more than to bring pain upon God.

By tricking his creations against him, he uses mankind to get back at God and to rob him of having loyal and trustworthy beings in his garden. And this, Satan gets the upper hand over God, a small victory, perhaps, but when he relishes in because he has ruined something that God loves.

There’s also the line from Revelations as mentioned earlier, that refers to Satan as that ancient serpent, where it said, ‘The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.’

Here we see Satan identified as a serpent, which could be about both his dragon form and his snake form. He’s also noted as leading the whole world astray—something the snake in the Garden of Eden essentially takes responsibility for, in that he deceived the first man and woman, and thus, the rest of humanity, or the consequences of.

Satan, the Devil in the Bible — The Adversary

In Hebrew, the term Satan was thought to be a noun that meant ‘Accuser’ or ‘Adversary’, a fitting term if you think about how Satan operates in some Jewish beliefs. While Satan himself is not necessarily considered to be the big, bad evil in the Torah, or the Talmud, he does appear at the command of God to deliver his will, whereby he serves as an obstacle for the evil Prophet Balaam, who is hired to curse the Jews.

Through this, he could very well be considered an adversary, not necessarily to God, but an adversary in general.

You also see Satan appear in the book of Job, whereby job is cursed by God after a wager with Satan, to see if Job would still worship God if he was met with misfortune. God grants Satan the freedom to do his worst against Job. And thus, Satan comes to serve as something of an agent of God, and that he does what God tells him, so long as he gets to hurt humans in some capacity.

This might lead to him being the accuser, in that it is he who brings about punishment to man, for he serves God in some loose manner to facilitate his vengeance. It could also be that God has complete control over Satan, and he uses the evil demon to bring wrath on those who deserve it.

We often see the non-capitalised form of Satan appear in the Jewish texts, and it is understood that this refers not to ‘the Satan’, but instead any man or being that provides an obstacle—which makes sense given that the term Satan also derives from a verb meaning to obstruct or to oppose.

Meanwhile, we also see the usage of ‘ha-Satan’, and in this instance, it is believed that Satan is being discussed.

For the most part, though, Satan appears to have a far larger role in Christian theology than in Judaism. And so, allow us to return to the Bible, where we look at the very first instance where Satan is mentioned.

Satan in the Bible — Satan and David

Satan acts in the Bible exactly how you would expect him to. Whilst he never seems to physically engage man, he does appear to tempt him in a variety of different ways. We see this in Chronicles 21, where King David is tempted by Satan into conducting a census on the Israeli people—the army specifically.

It might not seem like that big of a sin, but it is believed that by counting his fighting men, David did not trust God would see his victory and that David chose to confide in numbers and strategy instead of pretty much taking God’s word for it.

It might also be because David demonstrated pride and greed, in that he began to see the men as his own, and that they were his to count and not God’s. Furthermore, you might also say that because David accepted an order from Satan to count his men, God felt betrayed.

And so, through the prophet Gad, he gave David three choices of his punishment. These include either a three-year famine, three months of being defeated in battle, or three days of plague, with an angel of God allowed to descend upon his lands and butcher and destroy any part of it.

David accepted the latter and thousands of people die from the plague and an angel gets to run amok of the place, slaying the people and destroying their buildings.

While some of you may say that David’s punishment is severely disproportionate to his sin, it goes to show believers the detriment of even listening to Satan’s words. David had by no means the idea to count his people until Satan gave him the idea. And by accepting Satan’s idea and running with it, David is choosing Satan over God.

The Bible makes it pretty clear here that negotiating, entertaining or even listening to Satan’s words are a big ‘No No’, and that he who does risks getting a considerable punishment.

Satan in the Bible — Satan and Joshua

Satan in the Bible will go to any lengths to bring a man down and to shame him before God. As we’ve seen thus far, we see him trick Adam and Eve, we see him coax David into doing something he knows God will dislike, and in Zechariah 3, you see him become the fashion police as he mocks the high priests Joshua, for presenting before God in dirty clothes.

While Satan isn’t given a voice here, we understand that he was present along with another angel by God’s side and that when Joshua appears to them, Satan took issue with how he was dressed. We know this because the angel seeks to remedy the situation straight away, saying, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.’

It seems like a bizarre thing for Satan to get worked up over. This is because Satan probably couldn’t find anything wrong about Joshua, and the best he could do to turn God against him was to target his clothes and imply that Joshua was neglectful and disrespectful to appear before him as he did.

But the angel, whether this is an independent angel or an angel acting through God, doesn’t see this as a big deal and destroy Satan’s argument. He gives Joshua new clothes, thus leaving Satan without a leg to stand on.

In this, we see that Satan does what he can to get God to punish mankind, even if they don’t necessarily deserve it. He hates mankind so much that he will clutch at straws if he must, to get men to feel God’s wrath in the way that he once did.

The enmity for man is palpable, that he would do anything to hurt man, whether this is through deceptions, temptations, or outright lies.

But we seldom see Satan physically get involved with mankind, in that for all his hatred, he never tries to fight us one on one. He enjoys leading us down a path of destruction and seems to be all the happier to allow us to destroy ourselves, possibly because he knows that if we turn against God by our own volition, we will hurt God more than say, ‘him swooping down and attacking us.’

Satan in the Bible — Satan and Job

But we do get to see the power and mercilessness of Satan in the book of Job where we see him hurt job directly, and where we do get to see a glimpse of his awful power.

For those of you who are not familiar with the book of Job, I advise you to check out my upcoming article on it in the Biblical Stories Explained Series. Essentially, we are told that Joe was a righteous man who did everything by the book. He had a farm where he raised the crops, had a great family, and earned a decent amount of money. Job was living the dream, and he thanked God for his blessings every day.

God turned to Satan and proceeded to, well kind of brag about how great Job is. He tells Satan that Job was an upright man who embraces him and shuns evil. Satan scuffs at this, he says (Job 1:10),

‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’

Satan and Job in the Bible
The Linnell Set, object 6 (Butlin 551.6) “Satan Smiting Job with Boils” — The Examination of Job (c. 1821) by William Blake

So, God obliges Satan and tells him to pretty much do his worst against Job, but he is not allowed to harm Job as a person. We then see Job’s life absolutely ruined in the space of a day. We see his cattle stolen, his servants put the death by raiders, his children crushed under a building, and his crops destroyed by a fire that fell from the sky.

Job was of course, heartbroken. But he still thanks God and remains loyal. God then tell Satan that his notions on Job were wrong, given that even though he took everything away from Job, Job did not turn against him.

So, Satan ups the ante and tells him,

‘Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.’

God again tell Satan to do his worst. We finally see Satan in action. Instead of resorting to his deceptions and his temptations and lies, he descends upon Job and inflicts physical harm upon him by casting painful sores upon his body.

It not only shows us how evil Satan is, but also that it isn’t just all bark with no bite. Job was put into intense agony because of the sores, and so, it certainly is a stark reminder that Satan is bad news. It shows us that whilst he is a being that can do terrible calamities, and that whilst he should not be feared, he is an entity worthy of being cautious of.

Although many believe that the only reason Satan strikes here is that God allows him to, where in normal circumstances, Satan would not be permitted to physically strike, which is why we don’t see him do it often.

For those wondering, Job goes on a roller coaster of discovery, as he questions God and his faith. But for the most part, he remains loyal, if not utterly sceptical. He is rewarded in the end with his life back, but only after much mental and physical suffering, a sad tale for a man who did nothing wrong.

Satan in the Bible — Satan and Jesus

Satan also features quite prominently in the gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And as always, takes on the role of a deceiver and attempter, but in some unique ways.

Firstly, there’s the account in Matthew 4, where Jesus is led up into the wilderness and fasts for 40 days and 40 nights. Whilst here, Satan comes to Jesus and reminds him that if he is the Son of God, and he needn’t starve, for he can turn the stones around him into loaves of bread, but Jesus resists him, telling him,

‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Here, Jesus sets an example to believers in how best to deal with Satan, and that is to simply dismiss him. Jesus reaffirms his affinity with God, and Satan is out of loss. But far be it from Satan to give up so easily; he takes Jesus to the holy city and the pinnacle of the temple and tells him to jump. For if he jumps, God will surely save him, for he is the Son of God.

Satan and Jesus - the Temptation from Satan

Here, we see Satan’s frustration, for he had started his temptation of Jesus by just getting him to eat bread, but now he’s trying to kill him by getting into a jump. But Jesus recognises this and tells him,

‘Again, it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’

Jesus’s dismissal of Satan is made to look effortless, for he of all people cannot be tempted by evil, as the Son of God. Here, Jesus serves as an inspiration to believers and likely encourages them to aspire to be the same.

Finally, we see Satan take Jesus to a very high mountain, where he shows him the vast kingdoms of the world. And he tells Jesus that he will give him all of it, and more if he bows down now and worships him instead.

Here we see Satan still clinging on to this idea that he should be the one who is worshipped, but he is greater than God, and he is the one that liberty to give kingdoms unto men, when, he doesn’t have any of this power at all.

Satan evidently suffers from delusions of grandeur, and Jesus sees right through this. Jesus gets quite firm of Satan, telling him,

‘Away with you, Satan! For this written, worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’

Here, believers are given another model of behaviour when facing Satan, and as to be strong, be adamant, and do not be afraid to tell him to leave you alone. Notice that when Jesus does this, Satan does back off and no further attempted allure Jesus off the righteous path is made again.

Satan in the Bible — Satan and Judas Iscariot

Yet, another interesting account of Satan’s behaviour and his abilities are described in John 13, where Jesus is telling his disciples that one of them will indeed betray him.

When Simon Peter asks him who he is speaking of Jesus replied, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’

Satan and Judas in the Bible

Jesus then dips the bread in the dish and hands it to Judas Iscariot, who after receiving the bread is infiltrated by Satan. John tells us (John 13:27),

‘After he received a piece of bread, Satan entered into him.’

It’s a bold statement to make, for it almost vindicates Judas of being the traitor that would end up setting up Jesus to the Romans. While you might say Judas was weak, in that he allowed Satan to take control over him, we never get to see this interaction. We don’t know what Satan said, nor do we know how much power Satan used against Judas in getting him to ultimately betray Jesus.

We’re going by how Satan doesn’t seem to be able to do anything without the consent of his victims, it is likely that Satan promised Judas something that he couldn’t refuse, or that he bullied Judas into allowing him to possess him. In any case, Judas falls victim to Satan scheming, and this leads to the crucifixion of Jesus.

In this, Satan scores get another victory against God. And we see this back and forth between the two sides throughout the Bible, a regular battle between good and evil that sees the scales tipped back and forth.

It again serves to remind us of how cunning Satan is, and that believers should be mindful of his tricks, for if he is unable to infiltrate your mind, he could very well infiltrate the mind of someone you love and trust and use them to hurt you for your faith.

In any case, while Satan does get some victories here and there, those who are pure of mind and body are usually those that earn God’s blessings.

The moral of most of these interactions’ is don’t trust the devil. Don’t listen to the devil, and maybe just don’t even talk to him, block and delete that also, for real!

The Punishment of Satan

In almost all arguments over the Bible, it is generally agreed that regardless of what happens, God is going to defeat Satan. And this gives believers some hope and some encouragement to keep being righteous. As Paul the Apostle tells us in Romans 16:20, ‘The God of peace will shortly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with you.’

In the parables of Jesus, most notably the Parable of the Sower, we learn that those who fail to understand the Gospels are those that have already been deceived or infiltrated by Satan.

It’s also understood from the parables, much like Paul tells us in Romans 16:20, that Satan will be destroyed and that those who follow him will perish on the Day of Judgement, and that they will be committed to eternal fire.

This is furthermore supported by revelations 20:10, a section appropriately titled ‘Satan’s Doom’, and we are told,

‘And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.’

Satan in the Jewish Texts

We’ve spoken about Satan having a minimal role in Judaism, in that many Jews do not believe in his existence as a supernatural being, but more so as an abstract idea. Many Rabbis have interpreted the word of Satan, often the uncapitalized form as referring to corporeal and human enemies, perhaps even disbelievers, or those that refute God.

Meanwhile, the Kabbalah presents Satan as sort of a mystery or agent of God, one who seeks to tempt humans into sinning so that he may serve as their judge in the heavenly court.

Through this idea, Satan is employed by God to root out evil humans, sort of like an undercover cop who entraps his victims and exposes them.

Satan in the Islamic Texts and Traditions

A similar belief exists in some Islamic interpretations of Iblis, the devil in the Quran, who was once a Jinn made from smokeless fire. Man, on the other hand, was made from clay. And so, when Allah request his angels to bow before man, Iblis refuses.

Iblis is cast out of his pride and disobedience of Allah, but one idea is that Iblis still serves Allah, in that he tempts man into sin, to prove to Allah that man isn’t all that great. Of course, this is just one idea, and we’ll look at this in a bit more detail later.

‘The Satan’ in the Hebrew Bible

Meanwhile, in the Hebrew Bible, they exist a heavenly prosecutor known as The Satan, and he is a member of the angelic hierarchy known as the Sons of God, those that serve Yahweh.

The Satan is seen to prosecute the kingdom of Judah and test the loyalty of Yahweh’s followers, in a similar way to Job by forcing them to suffer. Over time, this Satan figure gained more notoriety, and soon he was viewed as a malevolent being and wanted to be despised for his wickedness.

The book of Jubilees, an apocryphal Jewish work, sees this Satan character described as Mastema, and Mastema is seen to negotiate with Yahweh to let him keep some of the fallen angels that had turned against him. Yahweh agrees and Mastema uses the fallen angels to tempt humans into sinning, to determine whether they are righteous or not, or to punish them for their offences.

How Satan is Viewed Today

By the Middle Ages, Satan started to be taken a little less seriously or at least mocked by certain writers and playwrights. Often, he would appear in plays like a comedic character, one who tried to come across as evil, but usually ended up embarrassing himself.

While he would try to convey himself as masterfully evil, he would usually end up doing something stupid and inadvertently reveal himself to be masterfully foolish. His role in these plays usually saw him taken advantage of by the very people he sought to manipulate, and often or not, would come across as more of a nuisance than a serious antagonist.

But Satan during these times was still an overarching menace, one who worked behind the scenes of society to corrupt and deceive. We see this as witches were the consults of demons, that they could perform sexual acts with demons, and sometimes Satan himself in exchange for magical powers.

These consultations with Satan would otherwise include the summoning of him to seek counsel, to sacrifice unbaptized babies to him, or as aforementioned, a straight-up booty call. During this time, women were condemned and often executed, for the church soon began to believe that witchcraft was an activity organised by Satan himself.

In the past, the power of Satan was undeniable for Christians worldwide, and many communities today still hold the father of evils in the same chilling regard. Many believers today choose to guard against Satan by surrounding themselves in their faith, or by surrounding themselves in many companies of family and friends, for it is believed that Satan hates happiness, and so will often keep away seeking to choose easier, more vulnerable targets for his work.

Satan in the Arabic Text — The Story of Satan (Iblis) and Humankind

In Arabic, meanwhile, we have the word Shaitan, which does sound like Satan. The Shaitans, however, are evil spirits in Islam, sometimes considered as demons or devils who work to do exactly that which Satan does and as to lure people into corruption.

Often, this is thought to be done by whispering in the victim’s ear, encouraging them to sin. Shaitan, or the singular Shaytan, is sometimes referred to as Satan himself. But the more common name for Satan in Islam is Iblis.

Where Satan serves as something of the root of all evil, in Islam, Iblis is not necessarily the cause of evil, but more so a tempter that gets man to initiate the evil by his hand.

Adam and the Angels watched by Iblis
Painting from a Herat manuscript of the Persian rendition by Bal’ami of the Annals/Tarikh (universal chronicle) of al-Tabari, depicting angels honouring Adam, except Iblis, who refuses. Held at the Topkapi Palace Museum Library. Artist by Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī (839–923)

We understand from many Surahs in the Quran that Allah asked all the angels to bow before Adam, who Allah viewed as a magnificent creation. The angels all obeyed, but Iblis—who wasn’t exactly a true Angel, given that he was created on fire, and considered sometimes to be a spirit known as a Jinn or the very first Jinn—claimed he was superior to Adam, and he should not have to frustrate before him like the others.

Allah then expels Iblis for showing so much pride and condemns him to Jahannam or Hell, if you will. From then on, Iblis was an ungrateful and spiteful creature, one who hated man for who he blamed for losing his place.

To demonstrate his hatred towards man and his desire to get them to suffer the same fate as him, he attempts to lead humanity astray. Allah allows them to do this of course, for by doing so, Allah can see who is truly righteous, and who truly deserves a place in paradise.

Some Muslims also believe that Satan or Iblis can create insecurities in the mind, as well as stimulate desires which can lead us to sin. It’s thought that when I believe a successfully resist Satan, he returns with new temptations later, then this becomes a never-ending battle and pressures a true testament to one’s character, depending on how much he resists.

If a believer feels that they are overwhelmed by Satan’s temptations, they are advised to seek refuge with Allah and that he will help them through this difficult period.

The Worship of Satan

The Worship of Satan

Theistic Satanism

In Theistic Satanism, which you may have heard of as Devil Worship, believers here worship Satan as a deity and entreat Satan the same way one may treat God.

Whilst I am not so well versed in theistic Satanism unfortunately, it is known that there are many different independent groups and cabals all with varying degrees of worship and ideas. Perhaps something for us to dive into in another article.

Atheistic Satanism

Atheistic Satanism, meanwhile, is a little different. Many might know of the Satanic Temple, or the LaVeyan Satanists, two groups that identify with the practice of Satanism.

What makes them different from Theistic Satanists, though, is that they do not believe Satan exists—not at least in the biblical sense—but more like a rational neutral figure who symbolises liberty and individual achievement and empowerment.

They believe in the prideful carnal nature of Satan as a symbol of a very human character and something that should be promoted.

Satan is not a being here, but more so a concept—A belief or something powerful represents man’s ability to achieve his potential.

LaVeyan Satanists

LaVeyan Satanists, meanwhile, focus more on the name of Satan. That very adversary that we spoke about at the beginning of the article.

It is this adversarial nature that they choose to adopt when it comes to religion, that they seek to question spiritual belief systems that they believe are detrimental to the enjoyment of life.

Members of these groups also hold science as a key virtue to development, and that religion does not infringe on the advancement of humanity.

Various Depictions and Interpretations of Satan

Depiction of Satan in Dante’s Inferno

Depiction of Satan in Dante’s Inferno

We also see Satan depicted in some interesting ways in classical literature, such as Dante’s Inferno, where he is shown to be a giant demon, one who appears in the ninth circle of hell to be frozen in place.

Here, he said to have three faces and a pair of black wings. According to Dante, in each of his mouths, Satan chews on Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius and Judas Iscariot, the former who betrayed Julius Caesar, and the letter who portrayed Jesus.

Here, Dante attributes Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ as being two of the greatest humans in history. Given that Caesar form the new order of government, whilst Jesus formed the new order of religion. Dante also tells us of the cold wind that comes about as Satan beats his wings, the ice-cold wind that keeps him and other demons frozen in place within the ninth circle.

Depiction of Satan in the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Depiction of Satan in the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Meanwhile, in the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, we see an almost comical interpretation of Satan that highlights the hypocrisy of some holy men, whereby a friar lands in hell, only to be told that there are millions of friars here too.

When he doesn’t immediately find the rest of his holy brethren, Satan appears and reveals to him do the others all live inside his anus.

Depiction of Satan in the Poem, Paradise Lost

In the Poem Paradise Lost, however, Satan appears to be the tragic protagonist. One who suffered defeat because of his pride. He is also seen to be here as a tragic character, one who holds some merit in he dares to oppose the rule laid down by God, something that is echoed as being heroic in this text.

In Conclusion to Satan, the Devil

It just goes to show how much of a complex character Satan is. In that, there are those who of course, knew him as detestable and wicked, but also those who find good qualities in him, such as Satanists, or the poet John Milton.

Satan has served in the world in a variety of different ways, not only as an inspiration for some of the most famous literary pieces but also in a cautionary manner, reminding believers of the faith to turn away from his temptations and to stay on the righteous path.

He’s also a reminder of the balance of good and evil in that without one, the other cannot exist. Therefore, you might say that his existence is crucial in our way of life, allowing us to appreciate the wholesome goodness of reality more, as we seek to make the world a better place.

Image Sources: American Magazine, Eidemon, Wikimedia Commons, JW.ORG, Iro Pagis.

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