Encyclopedia > Incubus

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In medieval legend, an incubus (plural incubi; from Latin incubare, "to lie upon") is a demon in male form supposed to lie upon sleepers, especially on women in order to have sexual intercourse with them. A female version was called a succubus. There several possible explanations for the incubus legends:

  • They form part of the well-attested Medieval preoccupation with sin, especially sexual sins of women.
  • Actual rapes of sleeping women were attributed to demons by rapists in order to escape punishment.
  • The feeling of smothering while sleeping is known to physicians. The modern term for this common disorder is sleep hypnosis[?] or sleep paralysis.
  • Because of the weight given to sin in the Middle Ages, nocturnal arousal, orgasm or emission were explained away by the legends of creatures causing an otherwise guilt-producing and self-conscious behavior. Thus people could say they were not to blame for it; it was obviously outside of their control: they were a victim.

During the witchhunts, alleged intercourse with demons or with Satan was one of the purported sins for which women were killed.

There is a 1990s funk-metal band called Incubus. Click at the link to the left for more information.

Marillion have a song on their 1984 Fugazi album called Incubus, which plays with this sexual connotation. The lyrics can be found here (http://members.tripod.com/~Marillion_disco/LYRICS/l_incubu.htm).

There is a movie called Incubus. Click at the link to the left for more information.

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