Better the Devil You Know: Part Two

I raised questions about visual images of the devil in my Better the Devil You Know post yesterday, even suggesting that he was once blue and winged rather than red and horned. Following this discussion Daisy alerted me to this wonderful blue devil from Giovanni da Modena. The Inferno, 1410, can be seen in Basilica di San Petronio, Bologna. He is spectacular I have to say and something of a giant. Thank you Daisy I am now convinced that the devil was blue for long periods in history (and your research sounds fabulous).

I have also been thinking about how imagery around satyrs and depictions of Pan are crucial to the story. The characteristics of these figures found their way into representations of the devil because the church had demonised them as pagan gods in an attempt to get the masses to follow the one true Christian God. The devil starts to take on some of the characteristics of Pan therefor and see below this sixteenth-century satyr’s cloven hooves and horns. The devil has all the best tunes and he is often depicted as Pan-like playing the pipes!

But when did he turn red?  Part three coming soon!


About Sam George

Associate Professor of Research, School of Humanities, University of Hertfordshire Co-convenor OGOM Project
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2 Responses to Better the Devil You Know: Part Two

  1. firekrank says:

    This is so interesting. I had a quick look into this (very, very brief) and someone pointed out that in Revelations 12:3 ( there is discussion of a red dragon – possibly had some affect on representation.

    There is also some interesting commentary and images here ( about the depiction of a blue and red angel in mosiacs at the Basilica Di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo.

    Also, there are lots of sports teams, and a jazz band, in the USA that refer to themselves as the Blue Devils. (He’s also a character from DC comics – I wonder if there is a lineage here with earlier depictions – perhaps hard to prove. Blue devils definitely link in with blues/ jazz and a sense of melancholy. This article by Huffington Post ( suggests it might have something to do with 17th century English phrase, though I’m not sure how accurate this article is.

    Interestingly, in the Disney film ‘Hercules’, Hades is depicted as blue.

    • Ooh yes this is complex but absolutely fascinating. I can’t help but think of the blue meanies from the Yellow submarine too as a contemporary manifestation. Today I looked at this material on the BL pages of Defoe’s History of the Devil written in the eighteenth century
      I might post on this and will continue on the trail of the red devil for a follow up post! Thanks for these pertinent observations…I might present on this at the next CoW if I find enough material on the devil’s role in witchcraft in the images….exciting!

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