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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Why is the Prince of Darkness a Gentleman?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0124  Friday, 21 January 2005

[1]     From:   John D. Cox <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 10:41:33 -0500
        Subj:   The Devil's social status

[2]     From:   Al Magary <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 14:41:38 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0113 Why is the Prince of Darkness a Gentleman?

[3]     From:   Joachim Martillo <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 10:24:30 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0113 Why is the Prince of Darkness a Gentleman?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John D. Cox <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 10:41:33 -0500
Subject:        The Devil's social status

I think the prince of darkness is a gentleman, because devils and
personified vices in medieval religious drama are invariably imagined on
stage as aristocratic human beings. I've argued elsewhere that the
reason for imagining them this way is that the devil fell through pride,
and pride was the besetting sin of the aristocracy. The device enabled
medieval playwrights to generate caustic social satire in religious
drama. For a full statement of the argument, see *The Devil and the
Sacred in Early English Drama, 1350-1642*.

John Cox
Hope College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 14:41:38 -0800
Subject: 16.0113 Why is the Prince of Darkness a Gentleman?
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0113 Why is the Prince of Darkness a Gentleman?

Don Bloom asked:  "The idea that Satan = Prince, and Prince = gentleman,
does not give any indication of why he should be portrayed as suave,
witty and well-dressed...Does anyone have any sources on the
presentation of the devil in European literature..."

Here's an older book online at Project Gutenberg that might be a
starting point:

Spalding, Thomas Alfred.  Elizabethan Demonology:  An Essay in
Illustration of the Belief in the Existence of Devils, and the Powers
Possessed By Them, as It Was Generally Held during the Period of the
Reformation, and the Times Immediately Succeeding; with Special
Reference to Shakspere and His Works (1880):
http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12890

Cheers,
Al Magary

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joachim Martillo
  <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jan 2005 10:24:30 EST
Subject: 16.0113 Why is the Prince of Darkness a Gentleman?
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0113 Why is the Prince of Darkness a Gentleman?

D Bloom <
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 >This isn't getting us any farther. The idea that Satan = Prince, and
 >Prince = gentleman, does not give any indication of why he should be
 >portrayed as suave, witty and well-dressed. Does it indicate a kind of
 >leftover Puritanism that associated such cavaliers with the devil?
 >
 >Does anyone have any sources on the presentation of the devil in
 >European literature that would allow us to try and track down where it
 >starts?

Isn't Belial traditionally considered the chief of the sons of darkness
in the letters of Paul?

In Latin the phrase is princeps filiorum tenebrarum which could be
shortened to princeps tenebrarum or Prince of Darkness.

Joachim Martillo

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