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representations of the devil

Why is the devil represented half-man, half-goat ?

The devil, fallen angel, is an integral part of the Christian religion. Symbol of evil, of sin, of temptation, in short of all the "vices" of human nature, it has benefited over time from numerous representations. But the attributes of the goat (horns, goatee, hooves, etc.) are those most often attributed to him. Why was this image selected?

 tete de diable sculptée

Carved wooden devil's head on Relics.es

In antiquity, the Latin pantheon was rather open and the Gauls did not have too much trouble pursuing their religion. But in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, a new religion tried to establish itself, whose unique god, who appeared in the form of a man, was crucified in Palestine... The Christians, fiercely monotheistic, gradually pushed back the old religions and gradually prevail in the West.


bougeoir diable

Candlestick representing the devil on relics.es

But a few laws are not enough to shake up the beliefs of an entire people: if Christianity establishes itself rather well in the aristocratic spheres of the city, it struggles however to reach the countryside.


la tentation de saint antoine

Engraving The temptation of Saint Anthony on Relics.es


The Christian Bible devotes only a few passages to the devil and does not describe his appearance. In Genesis, the serpent tempting Eve is closely associated with Satan, but many theologians believe that the composition of Genesis predates the concept of the devil. Passages alluding to the fall of Lucifer are found in the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel. The Satan of the Old Testament is not the opposite of God, but an adversary as shown by his role in the Book of Job.

In the New Testament, Satan has become an evil force. He tries to convince Jesus to give up his mission: I will give you all this, if you bow down and worship me (Matthew 4:9). He is described as a soul hunter. The First Epistle of Peter warns us: Be disciplined, be vigilant. The devil prowls around like a lion looking for prey to devour (I Peter 5:8). In the book of Revelation, Satan has become an apocalyptic beast, determined to overthrow God and heaven.iel.

dague satanique ceremonie occulte

Occult ceremonial dagger on Relics.es

The characteristic god of the countryside is the old god Pan, originating from Greek mythology. God of everything and nature, he sports long hair on his legs, goat's hooves, goat's horns and ears. In order to discredit the pagans, the Church therefore seized their god for the representation of the devil, the incarnation of evil.

During the Middle Ages, the devil's appearance changed drastically. A 6th-century mosaic from the Basilica of Saint Apollinare-Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy, depicts the Last Judgment and the Satanic figure in the form of an ethereal blue angel. This angelic image would eventually be dropped in favor of a more demonic appearance.

Many of the devil's animal traits can be traced to influences from earlier religions. One of the first was found in ancient Babylonian texts - demons named Lilith. These winged female demons fly at night, seducing men and attacking pregnant women and infants. In Jewish tradition, these demons evolved into Lilith, Adam's first wife. Lilith came to embody lust, rebellion, and impiety, traits later associated with the Christian devil. Beelzebub is another ancient deity associated with Satan, whose name means Lord of the Flies. Beelzebub was a Canaanite deity, named in the Old Testament as a false idol from which the Hebrews had to flee.r.

Representations of the devil have not, however, remained uniform throughout history and across artists. A paradoxical figure, he is sometimes terrifying and repulsive, sometimes seductive to represent temptation.
More or less humanized, his faces are multiple: snake scales (the very symbol of sin), ghost, emaciated human with nails and pointed teeth, sporting wings (reminder of his status as a fallen angel), with red skin to recall flames...

If his representations are multiple, the roles he embodies are no less diverse: the devil is often found in tales or jokes to symbolize small human vices.

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