When you think of the "Devil", how do you generally depict him/her?Posted by: PetersSmith
This is generally like if you just think about "the Devil", or just your "preferred" depiction.
Described generally as an "attractive man in a suit", this version of the devil is strongly personified in many movies, most notably movies like "The Prophecy", "Constantine", and "Angel Heart". Here, the devil is depicted as wearing typically a black or white suit (usually white or black and red), and generally a "dapper" outfit. A cane is sometimes sported, as well as a gentleman's hat. Otherwise, it's just the suit. The Fyodor Dostoevsky depiction also imagines the devil as a "gentleman". Fairly classy, if I may add.
Satan (Stereotypical Devil)
Horns, goatee, red skin, extremely muscular, demon wings, goat lower body, hooves, pitch fork. This guy is the literal definition of "bad" and he's got an awesome drum solo to boot.
Lucifer the Morningstar (Attractive Fallen Angel)
The bible doesn't describe Satan specifically as "the most beautiful angel" but it does say that Satan was perfect in beauty, full of wisdom and adorned. Like all the other angels he was created perfectly and given a certain amount of authority. He was also given free will and because of this, inequity found it's way into him. It also says that Satan was lifted up because of his beauty, and that he corrupted the wisdom by reason of his brightness. Ezekiel 28:12-15.
I don't know what it is with goats. You get my goat. Old goat. Scapegoat. Bible (well, New Testament) scholars will remember Matthew 25:31-33: "the Son of Man … will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left," the goats presumably headed for eternal damnation. The preachers say this is because sheep are obedient whereas goats are ornery and do their own thing. Also, goats have — one must speak frankly — prominent genitals. Sheep, on the other hand … sheepish? Sheep to the slaughter? Sorry, babe, but I'd rather be a goat. All that having been said, the connection between Satan and goats is indirect. The goatlike features commonly attributed to the devil derive from the Greek pastoral deity Pan, who was half man, half goat. I have here a picture of a sixth-century Coptic ivory carving of Pan, and if you take away the pipes and give him a pitchfork, you're looking at the devil, complete with cloven hooves, hairy legs, horns, and beard. Oh, and prominent genitals, too. The phallic aspects tend to get airbrushed out of the modern picture of ol' Scratch, but let's not kid ourselves. When Christian artists pondered the most dangerous and subversive of the deadly sins, they weren't thinking of securities fraud. It was only natural that they should seize on the frankly sexual figure of Pan. (I'm thinking here of Pan-as-old-lech, not the romanticized Disney version.) I mean, if you want a truly disturbing portrait of wickedness, what are you going to pick up on, mass murder? Too alien. Whereas sexual license … I'm not pointing any fingers, but this is a topic to which a lot of us can relate. Pan also had the advantage of being pagan, and since time immemorial the gods of one age have been the demons of the next. Satan wasn't drawn strictly from Pan, and for that matter portraits of the devil weren't as consistent as today's highly stylized version might suggest. Artists of centuries past, like Hollywood special-effects geniuses today, tended to be pretty eclectic in their search for frightening imagery. If you look through medieval woodcuts and such, you see a devil who's often claw footed, with a long pointed tail and sometimes wings — more on the order of a gargoyle. His color varies, too, though Satan was frequently portrayed as either black or red — black being the color of death, and red no doubt suggesting blood and carnality. The trident probably comes from Neptune. I could give you a long list of other precedents from ancient iconography, but let's skip that. The trick in portraying Satan has always been simple enough. You want a critter of which one thinks: Ooh, that's scary. But also: You know, I can see the appeal.
During the Baroque period, the devil takes on a far more human and even sensual persona. Often depicted as Lucifer the fallen angel, his face often has beautiful effeminate features and his body has all the same characteristics as the angels of heaven, including feathered wings, but with one demonic dental such as a protruding tale, or claws. Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ was a major influence on the romantic, almost sympathetic depiction of the devil. Thomas Stothard, “Satan Summoning His Legions” (1790). Satan is no longer the gruesome monster, but a recognisable human figure.
Dante's Inferno's Satan
In this peerless early 14th-century description of life after death, the final one of the concentric spheres of hell is presided over by the devil. But he is impotent, encased up to chest height in ice, with one head but three faces, all of them weeping as he chews in each of his jaws a notorious sinner – Judas Iscariot, Jesus’s betrayer, and Brutus and Cassius, conspirators against Caesar. In contrast to depictions of the devil in Dante’s day as a cunning foe ready to prey on human weakness, his Lucifer is strikingly modern, a metaphor for nothingness, all hype and menace but no delivery
Sometimes depicted in movies as a female that can generally be described as "attractive", but a "normal" female nonetheless. This depiction could have a female wearing a suit, a dress, or a more promiscuous outfit. Clearly representing lust and temptation, devils depicted like this are commonly associated with "trading souls", such as with witches and succubi, sometimes in exchange for sex. The movie "Bedazzled" is most notable when it comes to a film adaptation.
Stereotypical Movie/TV Show Depiction
Horns, goatee, cape, pitch fork. This guy's got it all, just not that intimidating.
Most notably portrayed in the "Passion of the Christ", Satan is portrayed by a woman with a more androgynous appearance than the traditional image of a red-skinned, horned satyr-like monster. She is implied to be the mastermind behind the Pharisee's plot to kill Jesus and also the one who influenced Judas' betrayal. She tries to distract Jesus while he prays at Gethsemane, watches sadistically as Jesus is whipped 39 times with the cat-o-nine-tails (while holding a demonic child) and follows Jesus through the crowd as the Christ walks to his death. She also sends several of her demons to torment Judas after the 12th disciple betrays Jesus, which leads to his suicide by hanging from the rope used to lead the donkey that carried Jesus to Jerusalem. After Jesus' death and the destruction of the Temple (as Jesus had prophesied), Lucifer returns to Hell and screams in anger at her defeat.
Female Devil (Demon)
Taking the alternative route, the devil here is depicted as a female demon. Still attributing to the more "stereotypical" side, but this time the devil better represents "temptation", and much less "goat-like". Lilith was the personification of female sexuality and power over men, enlightener of women. A succubus is a female demon or supernatural entity in folklore (traced back to medieval legend) that appears in dreams and takes the form of a woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual activity. The male counterpart is the incubus. Religious traditions hold that repeated sexual activity with a succubus may result in the deterioration of health or even death.
Fallen Angel (Paradise Lost)
It was the 17th-century Puritan poet John Milton who produced the first psychologically compelling portrait of the devil, no longer the sly predator but (initially, at least) an edgy seductive hero. With his fine words, theatricality and swagger, the only physical sign of the evil within is the lightning scar on his face. In a device that is now all too familiar, the devil is first built up by Milton – “he above the rest/In shape and gesture proudly eminent/Stood like a tow’r” - and then debunked as a washed-up idealist turned cynical and out for revenge: “dismay mixt with obdurate pride and steadfast hate”.
Images of devils proliferated in the Middle Ages. The devil was often depicted as a terrifying, horned beast. In this mosaic by Coppo di Marcovaldo (1225-1276) in the Baptistery of Florence, Satan is devouring the damned while monsters in the shape of a snake, frog or lizard come out from his body. The artwork "Codex Gigas" also depicts the devil in a more "twisted" form. Diablo is another good example of a "twisted" devil.
An engraving from 1500, Death and the Devil Surprising Two Women, the devil is a gruesome figure who pursues the innocent behind the cloak of death. The exhibition takes up at the 16th century also features Albrecht Dürer’s Harrowing of Hell; several versions of the Last Judgment, including a painting from the school of Hieronymous Bosch; allegories by Pieter Brueghel representing the sins that condemn people to torments by the devil and his demons; and images of witches, such as Louis Boulanger’s frenetic Sabbath, depicting those who choose to serve the Devil.
Agostino Musi, called Agostino Veneziano, “The Skeletons” (1518), The devil is a figure that is equally recognisable with the figure of Death, drawing on pagan influences.