Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

Dmitry Kosenko
21.12.2015

Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

Demons, in ancient Slavic mythology - evil spirits; the word is pan-Slavic, goes back to the Indo-European "bhoi-dho-s" - "causing fear." Traces of ancient meaning are preserved in archaic folklore texts, especially conspiracies.

In the Christian tradition, the "demon" in the translation replaced the "demon". In Christian notions, demons are servants and spies of the devil, they are the soldiers of his unclean army, resist the Holy Trinity and the heavenly host, led by the Archangel Michael. They are the enemies of the human race, they send diseases (especially mental diseases - madness), sow discord and envy between family members, the boss and subordinates, the student and the teacher. Demons, like the Devil, were once the servants of God — angels, but because of a false choice, they bowed to evil. As a reminder of the originally angelic nature, they still have wings (in the Western tradition, these are bat wings).

The falling away of demons from God in the New Testament is mentioned, in particular, in the Epistle to the Jews of the Apostle Paul (6), the Apocalypse (12, 9), etc.In Matthew's Gospel (8), Jesus infuses demons into a herd of pigs.

In addition to external distant resemblance to angels, demons retained power over space and the elements. They can penetrate into human thoughts, inspire people with unrighteous desires, incite to evil. But they cannot reach the true righteous soul.

Demons tempt all people, but according to the ideas prevalent both in the Christian West and in the East, they pay special attention to the temptations of the monks, and among them the hermits and ascetics. Proceeding from these ideas, the hermits at the dawn of the birth of monasticism settled in places that rumors considered to be a gathering place of evil spirits with the intention to fight demons in their very "nest". Especially popular are the legends about the temptation of the founder of monasticism, Anthony the Great.


Like angels, demons come and go as they please. They wear various faces, and can take on the image of an angel and even Jesus Christ himself (the legend of the disciple of Francis of Assisi). The proximity of demons is recognizable by the sensation of vague melancholy, nausea, by causeless convulsive laughter. Phenomenon legends are especially popular in medieval Europe.demons tempting people with carnal intercourse (“male” incubus and “female” succubus).

Demons can appear in the guise of a black dog (“Faust” by I. V. Goethe) and a black cat. They are often portrayed as Gentiles or foreigners (in the Russian tradition as Ethiopians - “black murinas” or lyakhs, i.e. Poles, later Germans: the motif reflected in Gogol in “The Night Before Christmas”). At the end of the Middle Ages in Europe, demons are most often represented as the most unusual fantasy creatures. Most often they are portrayed as similar to fauns and satyrs: with small horns, hoofs, and tail.

According to Russian ideas, demons are most often invisible. Sometimes they are given to be seen only by firm, righteous people (for example, the vision of a monk coming to John of Kronstadt who sees the “cathedral of demons” crying that “we are now given power” is an obvious popular reaction to revolutionary ferment).


In European art, demons are often portrayed in the most popular plot, The Temptation of St. Anthony (Bosch, Nithard, Lukas Cranach the Elder, Veronese, and others), in scenes of hellish torment and the Last Judgment. In European literature, the connection with the Orthodox tradition is preserved by the images of the demonic tormentors of Dante in the Divine Comedy.Numerous medieval legends about demonic temptations are developed (with a perceptible parody tinge) in the "Manuscript Found in Zaragoza" by J. Potocki.

The principled interpretation of Dostoevsky's Trait in The Brothers Karamazov, as the embodiment of evil concealed in the dark depths of the human soul, was repeated almost in quotation by T. Mann in Doctor Faustus. The image of terrorist revolutionaries as a demonic force in Dostoevsky’s other novel, “Demons,” largely goes back to popular notions of demons as disturbers of calm. Voland's variegated retinue in “The Master and Margarita” by Bulgakov dates back to the medieval lower satire.

A source:
Take it to yourself, tell your friends!
Read also on our website:
How did Archangel Michael defeat the devil?
November 21 is a solid angelic day. In the Orthodox calendar, it sounds like the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael and other disembodied Heavenly Forces. Why is this archangel “leading” the heavenly hosts? What miracles from the Old and New Testaments are associated with it? We will tell about it further.
Does every person have a guardian angel?
Is there a guardian angel for all people or only for baptized people? What is its role in human life? How many are given to each? Where do they always stay? Who else has heavenly defenders and patrons? Is there a teaching about disembodied forces in other religions? You will find the answers in our article.
Demons - "professionals" of manipulation and fiction
In the parable story “My after-death adventures” by Yulia Voznesenskaya, it was possible to convey in a comprehensible and narrative form the meaning of the teachings of the Orthodox Church about the soul in the afterlife. This is a meeting with the dark forces, and the help of the Guardian Angel, and the passage of ordeals, and many other issues.
Under the wing of the guardian angel
To every person who comes to the world, God is assigned a guardian angel. While we are alive, we cannot see our heavenly patron. But many can feel his help and the fence. Those who were on the verge of death do not doubt its reality.
show more
When the Cathedral of the Archangel Gabriel is celebrated
The Cathedral of the Archangel Gabriel is celebrated on the second day after the Annunciation of the Virgin.This was established by the Jerusalem Ordinance. The church considers him a herald of joy. He appeared to the Most Pure Virgin to say that through her God would come into the world.
November 21 - Memorial Day of Archangel Michael and all disembodied forces
November 21 The Orthodox Church honors the Cathedral of Holy Angels, led by the Archangel Michael. It is this Archangel that is repeatedly mentioned in Holy Scripture and Tradition. In the Jewish "Michael" it sounds "Who is like God." Why did this angel get such a name?
What does God trust in the archangels Michael and Gabriel
Archangels Michael and Gabriel are the holy angels, whose day the Orthodox Church celebrates on November 21. They bring people messages from God, that is, they fulfill the role of His messengers. Thus, the archangels strengthen and increase the faith of the people.
Apostles of Jesus Christ - the founders of the Church
The apostles of Jesus Christ, who were not among the twelve of his disciples, are remembered by the Orthodox Church on January 7. The value of their exploits was great, these people professed Christianity, accepting martyrdom.
How 7 Archangels Help Christians
The 7 archangels are the heralds of God. Through them, He sends prophecies, helps to understand the divine will, illuminating the mind with true knowledge of the gospel. November 21 is the feast of the Angels Each Archangel has its own meaning for believers.
The many facets of the Archangel Raphael in Bible legends
Archangel Raphael is one of the few who was mentioned in the Bible by name. His name has Chaldean roots and means “Healed by God”. At first, his name was Labbiil, in Hebrew it sounds like this: “Rafa”, which means “doctor”, “surgeon”, “doctor”.
Walk through life with a guardian angel
I met my guardian angel in childhood. No, I did not see him personally, I did not try to touch his wings, ask about how to fly. I just knew that he was, and sometimes tried to talk to him. He silently guarded me.
Veneration of the Holy Archangel Michael
Holy Archangel Michael is one of the highest angels who take the most significant part in the life of the Church.According to the Holy Scriptures, besides the physical life, there is an invisible spiritual world. It is inhabited by evil demons and reasonable good angels.

Related news

  • Excursion to the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Farm
  • Starokonstantinov: a selection of sites
  • The craziest contraceptive
  • Why no one trusts the domestic BTR
  • Gangrene anxiety. How to heal her
  • Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature

    Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature Demons in world culture - religion, painting, literature