Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Talk of the Devil.......

In some recent "news" History Channel's current series "The Bible" has been criticised for their depiction of Satan. Apparently the actor involved has a passing resemblance to President Obama. Alright.....I'll stop myself from expanding upon that thought just now, and instead will wander along the secondary pathway it opened up: where did commonly held ideas of the physical appearance of Satan / the Devil originate?

An immediate thought shot me back to a novel I read last year: Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. Oddly the part of the book which has most clearly remained in memory was the explanation of why humans have kept the commonly accepted picture of "the devil" or demons embedded in communal memory - the winged horned cleft-footed nasty - you know the one. Towards the closing chapters of Childhood's End it is explained by Rashaverak (one of the alien Overlords) to Jan, a character who has spend many years away from Earth and arrives back to find it much changed, and not much longer for the universe. The average Overlord, by the way, is much taller and more strongly built than a human, with large wings, horns on its head, and a barbed tail. Their appearance had, for many centuries, remained hidden from humans. Rashaverak revealed why the Overlords look so much like the Devil to the human eye. The reason is not, as many humans had guessed, that the Overlords had visited Earth in the past. Instead, it was a kind of collective precognition: the human race had a vague premonition, a foreshadowing, of its ultimate demise, and a creature looking like the Devil would be involved. That creature, it turned out, was Karellen, the Overlord.

The real explanation (or is it?) is that the horns and tail are derived from pagan lore which had, in turn, come about via Greek and Roman mythology: the Satyr, the god Pan provided horns, hooves and tail; the pitchfork he's often depicted carrying likely came from the two-pronged sceptre of Pluto, the King of Hell. Pagan gods were routinely demonised by the early Christian church in an effort to entice new converts, as well as restraining those already within "the flock" from falling back into the old ways.

Hat tip to Book Drum for the illustration.

Reverting to that mentioned in the first paragraph: this isn't the first time, actually it's probably one of many times, a President/Prime Minister has been linked to thoughts of Satan. In a rather different thought pattern Frankie Boyle, a Scottish comedian, once said of Britain's then Prime Minister: "For 3 million pounds you could give everyone in Scotland a shovel, and we could dig a hole so deep we could hand her over to Satan in person".

The Devil pulls the strings which make us dance;
We find delight in the most loathsome things;
Some furtherance of Hell each new day brings,
And yet we feel no horror in that rank advance.

~ Charles Baudelaire.


♥ Sonny ♥ said...

Personally I think they should have chosen someone who looked alot like G bush or his master d cheney to play the devil but since the original screenplay:: the bible:: was written by a bunch of white guys , I've never been shocked by the fact that the devil has always been portrayed as a Dark Guy:) know what I mean? not much has changed- since even today the dark guys every move is seen as so much more Evil than what all the white guys did before him.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~~ That "white hat" "black hat" thing from old cowboy movies, is another, non-human, reflection of it I guess. Villains always wore black hats.

Black, the colour, not the skin colour, seems to always have had connection to things negative. I suppose originally, back in humans' earliest days, the nights were very dark and black and dangerous - wild animals roamed around unseen, causing fright, and often death. Maybe that's how the negativity of the colour black came about. But the same negativity ought never to have attached itself to skin colour.

The creators of the TV series "The Bible" ought to have had more insight than to cast that particular actor in the role of Satan, at this point in time! I cannot believe it was a cynically deliberate move, which would alienate at least half of their potential audience. But - one never knows.

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

not sure how it could be done but if we could know if the creators of the tv show were Republican, then of course the answer is- they dont give a crap cause heck, 47 percent wont be watching anyway cause as were told multiple times right from the repub candiates mouths, those folks would all be lined up somewhere waiting for their handouts:)

Twilight said...

Sonny ~~ Took a look at Wikipedia's page on "The Bible" series:


Producers are a married couple Roma Downey and Mark Burnett - they are British by birth but live in Malibu.
Roma Downey is reported elsewhere to be a devout Roman Catholic, but I can find no indication of their political leanings in the USA. In Ireland they supported
Martin McGuinness, he was a former IRA leader during "The Troubles" - now THAT does give me pause, because I was in England at the time of the IRA's attacks. We had to vacate our government office building on several occasions because of IRA bomb threats. It was a scary time.


♥ Sonny ♥ said...

they are long standing members of the Midtown Republican Club and have lobbied for the BIBLE to be read daily in public schools since 1997..

need I say more , lol..

Anonymous said...

evil is live spelled in reverse

Anonymous said...

devil is lived in reverse - ha!

Vanilla Rose said...

I've read a few things about the casting of God in various films, but not so much about the other guy. I think about Jamey Sheridan, who was in one of the "Law and Order" franchise at one stage, who was also cast as a satanic figure in Stephen King's "The Stand".

King said in the preface to the lengthened edition to "The Stand" that he wouldn't mind if it never made it to the big or small screen, but somehow, when it someone did get round to filming it, managed to wangle himself a job executive producing, adapting and acting in it.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~~~ Ah well - if that's the case it does go some way to explaining why, if they didn't deliberately choose the actor to play Satan because of his looks, when they noticed the resemblance to The Prez, they did nothing about it.

Re: reading the Bible in schools - that'd be fine, as long as they also read the Koran and other religious texts. Think that would ever happen?

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Well-spotted! LOL!

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ Yes - there have been lots of "Gods" in movies, mostly light comedic ones - One prings to mind: George Burns in Oh God! from the 1970s. :-)

I recall a couple of Devils too, but cannot bring to mind the movie titles. Google found
Al Pacino as Satan in The Devil's Advocate; and Viggo Mortensen in that role The Prophecy.

Stephen King is no slouch as a business man! ;-)