Spirits in the Library – Mephistopheles

For our fourth installment in our series (for the first three, see here), we’ll be looking at Mephistopheles.

Mephistopheles FaustMephistopheles is an unusual demon, insofar as his first appearance was in works of fiction based upon the life of the magician Georgius Sabellicus Faustus.  When grimoires began to be attributed to Faust, Mephistopheles followed along as one of the spirits with which magicians could make conduct and work.   At the same time, he’s accumulated an impressive list of appearances in the various incarnations of the Faust legend across many types of media.

Most of the books we discussed had entries on Mephistopheles, with the only exception being Mack.

Bane – Notes the fictional origins of the prince of demons, as well as his later inclusion into grimoires.  Oddly enough, then claims that certain aspects turn up in “medieval literature” (which would have predated its appearance).  A nice bibliography, as it mentions Butler’s Ritual Magic.

Belanger – This draws upon both the fictional and grimoire traditions, and is likely the most lucid of the entries.  It would have been nice to see it branch out into the figure’s uses in more than simply the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, however.

Davidson – A nice paragraph, listing both fictional and grimoire appearances, though not quite systematically.

de Plancy – Nothing more than a brief and purple description of the horrible effects he has on humans, followed with a reference to the Faust entry.

Gettings – One paragraph referring entirely to the fictional sources, with no mention of the grimoires.

Guiley – This entry covers both Mephistopheles in Faust and in the grimoires, moving back and forth between the two for reasons I have yet to determine.  Nonetheless, it does touch on both the fiction and the magic.

Lurker – A short paragraph, with a misleading statement that it was “the name of the devil in the literature of necromancy and magic in the late Middle Ages.”

On this one, I felt Bane did the best, followed by Belanger and Guiley.

Who’ll be next?  We’ll find out in a week!

 

Published in: on July 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A fascinating series Dan. Oddly, whenever I see the name Mephistopheles, I immediately think of this – https://screen.yahoo.com/peoples-court-000000848.html

  2. Interesting blog. Never really paid that much attention to these guys.

  3. If you’re going to discuss Mephistophiles you ought to take a look at
    Goebel, Julius. “The Etymology of Mephistopheles”, in Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association , Vol. 35 (1904), pp. 148-156

  4. […] It was about a month ago that a librarian friend of mine mentioned pursuing a research question on a particular demon.  This brought to my attention that there are many, many books out there that are presented as being comprehensive lists of spirits. I thought it might be fun to examine them.  Before examining any at great length, I came up with a list of half a dozen particular entities.  By covering their treatment in each of these books, we might get a good idea as to what books might be best for the cost-conscious bibliophile or librarian.  It’s an unscientific process, to be sure, but I wanted to keep it fun. Our contenders are as follows: Bane, Theresa. Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2012. Belanger, Michelle A. The Dictionary of Demons : Names of the Damned. Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2010. Collin de Plancy, J.-A.-S. Dictionnaire Infernal.  Paris: BH. Plon, 1863. Davidson, Gustav. A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels. New York: Free Press, 1967. Gettings, Fred. Dictionary of Demons : A Guide to Demons and Demonologists in Occult Lore. North Pomfret, Vt.: Trafalgar Square Pub., 1988. Guiley, Rosemary. The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. New York: Facts On File : Checkmark Books, 2009. Lurker, Manfred. Dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons. London; New York: Routledge and K. Paul, 1987. Mack, Carol K., and Dinah. Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1999. Update: For those interested in reading the entries for each entity, they are as follows: Part 1 – Asmodeus Part 2 – Baron Part 3 – Pazuzu Part 4 – Mephistopheles […]


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