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Devil

The Devil is the name given to a supernatural entity who, in most Western religions, is the central embodiment of evil. This entity is also commonly referred to by a variety of names, including Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles and Beelzebub. In classic demonology, however, each of these alternate names refers to a specific supernatural entity, and there is significant disagreement as to whether any of these specific entities is actually evil. The word devil is derived from the Greek word diabolos ("to slander"), and the term devil can refer to a lesser demon in the hierarchy of Hell. At the same time, the term devil is also derived from the same Indo-European root word for deva, which roughly translates as "angel."

The notion of a central supernatural embodiment of evil, as well as the notion of angels, first arose in Western monotheism when Judaism came into contact with the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. Unlike classical monotheism, Zoroastrianism features two gods, one good and one evil, locked in a cosmic struggle where both are more or less evenly matched and the outcome is uncertain. Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord"), also known as Ohrmazd, is the god of light, and Ahriman ("Evil Spirit"), also known as Angra Mainyu, is the god of darkness. In a final battle between the supernatural forces of good and evil, human souls will be judged in a fiery ordeal, and only the good will survive this ordeal. Accordingly, humans are urged to align themselves with the god of light and his angels and to shun the god of darkness and his demons.

Christianity views Satan as a being created by God, whereas the evil god of Zoroastrianism is not a created being.

  • See Also:
Mephistopheles Samael Satan



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