Satan Wears Red

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Pan, half goat and half man, was a lusty god of nature whose carnal appetites made him easy to associate with the forbidden. His goat horns and cloven hooves became synonymous with sin and would later be adopted by artists in their horrific images of the devil.

Why is Satan depicted with horns, red tights and a pitchfork?

See also: Krampus the Christmas devil is coming to more towns. So where's he from?


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Reproduced in pictures, from the great artists down to the humble village artisan, a reptilian, winged figure of damnation became the iconic devil figure. In them, a ravenous Satan is seated in the center of hell as he gleefully chomps on the souls of sinners. Dante describes the deepest regions of hell where Satan holds sway. Armed with spears and spikes, demons shepherd all the damned—bishops and peasants, men and women—into hell for eternity.

Most artists depict in great detail the punishments awaiting them: Stripped naked, their souls are tormented, whether bound by serpents, burned by fire, swallowing molten gold, or tearing each other apart.

Is it biblical?

Common to many of these types of paintings is the central, monstrous figure of Satan who savagely devours the condemned. Theologically, the idea of the devil changed during this period as well. Throughout the Middle Ages Satan evolved into an aggressive, malignant force set on tormenting as many human souls as possible. The Greek daimon—a spirit or minor divinity who engaged with humans—informed a key aspect of this new devil. From the third century A.

Neoplatonism was not wholly incompatible with Christianity, but communicating with spirits was. Rituals could not sway the Christian God into granting human wishes; prayers were only evidence of piety.

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As more ancient works were translated into Latin throughout the Middle Ages, a new movement, Scholasticism, tried to reconcile the teachings of the early church with pagan writings on science, philosophy, and even necromancy, the art of conjuring spirits and demons. Necromancers were courting damnation through exposure to demons. In Pope John XXII issued a bull, Super illius specula, which stated that anyone found guilty of engaging in necromancy could be condemned for heresy and burnt at the stake. During the 14th century Europe faced a dark period blighted by the Black Death, famine, and war.

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Fear of the devil and his influence increased, as evidenced by an explosion of witch hunts. Unlike necromancers, the church believed that the devil sought out women as partners; witches would sign pacts and engage in evil on his behalf. People were no longer seen as merely deceived by Satan, but in active collusion with him against God. By this time in European history, the devil no longer sat passively. One of the largest influences of the modern depiction of Satan is the Greek god Pan.

He was known as a god of the wilderness and many stories associate him with lust. Also known as a bident, the pitchfork-like staff was used by the Greek god of the underworld, Hades, and represented his sovereignty over the dead. Christian author C. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that it is an old textbook method of confusing them he therefore cannot believe in you.

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Why is Satan depicted having horns, red tights and a pitchfork? --Aleteia

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