The supreme spirit of evil. An evil spirit, a demon. The anthropomorphic personification of evil.
The word 'devil' appears to be derived ultimately from the Sanskrit root div. In its strictly biblical sense the word is derived from translating the Hebraic 'Satan' into the Greek 'Diabolos', although Satan was not directly an evil or fiendish being so much as a tester of man's relationship to God. In this way the two distinct beings, Satan and Diabolos, were first confused and then later merged.
Later linguistic changes linked the Devil with 'demon', although in Greek the latter was not an evil being at all (see Daimon). The Devil himself the theologically conceived supreme embodiment of evil has taken on many related names in this babel of confusion, such as Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Abaddon, Behemoth, Belial and even Lucifer.
The classical image of the demonologists is derived from early patristic writings of the fourth century, which merged pagan elements (such as the half-bestial Pan) with a semi-human form, so what in medieval times was sometimes pictured as almost a cartoon figure of fun became a sort of hierarchic great god Pan, with cloven hooves, goat head and curiously anthropomorphized form. Yet in spite of this development of imagery the forms (as indeed the names) of the Devil have remained more or less legion, in that he accommodates into his single being many of the forms of the lesser devils.
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