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Satan

evil devil appears art

The Hebrew word satan (“adversary”) appears frequently in the Old Testament to refer to evil forces (both human and supernatural) that tempt and entice humans away from God. Satan is retained in the Greek and Vulgate translations, although it was additionally translated into the Greek and Latin diabolos (to become "Devil"). Satan, then, as the general source or magnet for evil causation in the world, was pictorially personified in various ways through early Christian and medieval art.


Old Testament apocryphal works, crediting the origin of evil to *angels who rebelled against God, specified Satan as the leader of the rebels hence Satan may be shown in angelic/humanoid form. This appears to be the case in early sixth-century mosaics (e.g., the scene of *Christ in judgment separating the sheep and goats at Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, where the blue angel who stands at Christ’s left, with the goats, may represent the wicked Satan).


The *exorcism of *demons from possessed persons, a subject which appears in early Christian art will show demons as small, winged creatures exiting from the mouths of the possessed. Enlarged   versions of these monstrous creatures appear in images from the ninth century following, representing Satan in an ugly, hybrid, humanoid, or bestial form. In Romanesque and Gothic art, images of Satan are increasingly hideous (see further under Devil).


Evil is also personified by specific animals, among them snakes, serpents, and dragons. Early Christian writers, such as Saint *Jerome, also used the name Lucifer to apply to Satan and the Devil.

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