|Understanding Satan, (he’s really a nice guy!)
In order to understand this subject, we must first turn to the subject of where did all these names for Satan come from? In the Bible, we originally have Lucifer, who gets kicked out and becomes Satan, and then has a host of devils, 1/3 of the fallen angels of heaven. These demons get sent to run loose on the Earth, creating havoc, and Satan is this bad guy who is responsible for all the wrongs. We must scourge the Earth of Satan and his followers!
Or at least that’s what most people have been told. Even in the Bible, the story is quite different from that, as we shall soon see. First, let’s look at Satan’s helpers, the “demons”. The word we now call “Demon” comes from the Greek word “Daimon” (daemon in Latin). These beings were an intermediate (and sometimes mediator) between the Gods and men. In this sense, the term "demon" means "replete with knowledge." The ancient Greeks thought there were good and bad daimons called 'eudemons' and 'cacodemons.' The term itself “daimon” can take on a variety of meanings, not limited to ones such as "divine power", "fate", or "god." (Variently depending upon which words it was grouped with.) The extent to which beings could be called a “daimon” included heroes who had been deified, and in fact, a large portion of the Hebraic “Bible” is just stories of Canaanite characters who had been Gods, who were turned into humans, who were again turned into defied humans, (hope that’s not too confusing, elaboration will come later). Good daimons were considered guardian spirits, giving guidance and protection to the ones they watched over. Bad daimons were considered ones who led people astray. The philosopher Socrates said he had a lifetime daimon, one that always warned him of danger and bad judgment, but never directed his actions. He said his daimon was more accurate than the omens of either watching the flights of birds or reading their entrails, which were two respected forms of divination at the time.
The Greek daimon (diminutive, daimonion), the original of the English " demon," did not connote necessarily the idea of evil. It was rather neutral, and might even be used as a synonym of theos, or "god"; it was also used at times to denote a tutelary genius (In Latin “lar”, “lemur”, “genius”), and came to be applied to any departed soul. In the Septuagint of the Old Testament, in the New Testament, and in Christian usage, the connotation is usually one depicting a sinister and evil spirit. The actual concept referred more along the lines of the animalistic concept of human behavior. Humans were believed to have their control and destiny altered by these two types of the same spirit, and the results of his success (or failure) were attributed to the spirits who were trying to either assist him in his efforts, or make him fail. (Satan made me fumble at the Super Bowl!)
The word “eudaimonia”, (having a good daimon), can be variously translated as ``happiness'', ``fulfillment'', or even ``a flourishing life'' (the last is the rendering of the estimable Martha Nussbaum). When Socrates claimed in the Apology to be advised by a daimon, it seems he meant he was being used more or less what we now call ``the voice of conscience''. (Or rather, what we would call it, if we were still into the old-fashioned ideas of having a conscience.) In Latin, the word changed mildly into the word dæmon. The general rule, as Latin degenerated through the Middle Ages, was that the diphthongs ``æ'' and ``oe'' (a diphthong is two vowels placed together) became ``e''. This rule gave us edifice from æedificum, celestial from coelestis, and demon from dæmon. However, none of this actually says what the word came to mean.
The existence of the pagan gods was not, (or at least, was not usually) denied by the Fathers of the early Church (for instance, Augustine). They believed they were real, and they really did work miracles for their followers. What they believed is that these were fallen angels who were lying to their followers about their origins. (Justin Martyr makes a complete idiot out of himself in his arguments. For his defense against why the Christian Jesus has a few thousand resemblances to pagan Gods, he says, “Well, the devil got there first and deceived everyone else.” Of course, to believe this, we must assume that the devil is omnipotent. But the Bible says that he isn’t….) This very vague and general ideal applied all the way down the line; from the highest of Olympian Gods, to the most minor fountain nymph. The assertion then came about that the dæmones of the pagans were really just fallen angels. From this, we later on adduced that ``demon'' was really just slang for ``fallen angel, the inhabitants of Hell.'' This idea is really narrow and dull, as we shall see.
What this idea further spawned was a whole pantheon of “demons” in the realm of “Demonology”. Now, a “demon” was just any other God or Godset outside of those mentioned in the Bible. This took the form of people writing about the details and particularities of Hell and its inhabitants. Some of this writing professed to be of service to good Christians, (know thine enemy); a much larger volume of it was frankly for practitioners of ritual magic, who wished to make use of the supernatural powers of demons. These sources are highly detailed; it is here that we have the opportunity to read about the elaborate hierarchy of Hell. Apparently, it is filled with a rigid caste system of Dukes, Counts, Grand Dukes, Presidents, and even Chancellors. We find in this hierarchy a structure that would rival the infrastructure of even the most rigid of authoritarianism systems. All of these beings were given very specific names, descriptions, habits, habitations, and purposes. For whoever was going into the realm of demonology, there was a specific demon to chose from, not only in purpose, but in ranking and power. You could pick one for divination, one for getting the girl of your sexual fantasies, and still another one for finding treasure. For virtually any purpose you could think of, there was a demon that was just right for your magical utilization and level of demonstrable power.
Now, in the earlier part of the Middle Ages, the Church's attitude towards demonologists, and the traditions of ritual magic they were a part of, was actually mildly reasonable. While not denying the existence of demons or the rest of the mythology, (it was, after all, in Augustine), the Church did tend to look very skeptically on anyone who actually claimed supernatural powers. Obviously, to the Church, anyone whom claimed to spend their time dealing with demons and consorting with them demanded special attention. (Such people were of course still sinners, since it was the intent to perform these acts, thereby infringing on the prerogatives of God, which was what mattered to the Church. However, they were perfectly happy as long as they got their money.)
This began to change once the Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance; especially as inquisitors and other authorities who were already familiar with the traditions of ritual magic, began to have to deal with the supernatural practices of peasants in remote, backward areas. The usual case would be something along the lines of hexing your neighbors goat. This kind of rural folklore and superstition persisted even in the USA in the 1950’s. For what are considered to be fairly obscure reasons, Churchmen began to actually believe these claims to magical powers; which, within the orthodox Christian paradigm scheme, could only be explained by the actions and considerable effects of the various demons.
Thus was inaugurated the great European witch-craze, which was a shameful and criminal enough episode, even if it did not kill nine million people and was not the suppression of a pagan religion. What this did do, in a strange way, was create the birth of the “golden” era of demonology, when witch-hunters and their aspiring peers, of all sorts, discoursed upon the nature of the true enemy at great length, and the medieval grimoires were elaborated into vast treatises; some of them rather refined products of Renaissance Latinity. (James I of England wrote a Daemonologie, in Forme of a Dialogue, published in 1603, for instance.) It lasted more or less until the beginning of the eighteenth century; Galileo and Descartes were contemporaneous, even prior to, such works of erudition, such as Richard Gilpin's Dæmonologia sacra, or, A Treatise of Satan's temptations (London: Richard Randal and Peter Maplasden, 1677). Gradually, as the education of the society prevailed, the more educated people, whether it be from rational or pure shame, caused a gradual subsidence of the art of demonology as a learned discipline, saving few but the most enigmatic of theologians.
This happy state of affairs has continued, more or less, to the present day. True, with the revival of interest in magic inaugurated by the Romantic period of contemporary literature, from time to time, someone will put a pen to paper, and write a tome on demons . There are tons of papers at the Berkeley library which are fully on equal footings with anything with which flowed from the pens of James I or Cotton Mather.
One of the most curious things about demonology is that it is full of asserted facts, incredibly detailed ones at that, and all this with no basis whatsoever. (There are no angels; a fortiori there are no fallen ones, and thus no facts about them.) Where, then, did all those names, portraits, descriptions, chains of command, specialties, and so forth come from? Well, much of it was simply each writer borrowing from his predecessors, and historians are very good at uncovering such things. Some of it was simply re-interpreting various beliefs of the pagans, heathens, and peasants within an inherited schema. But most of it was just made up. For someone interested in pathological intellectual disciplines, understanding how various people, and more importantly, anyone who will “borrow” from another’s work and what their interpretation will be, the understanding of this is crucial. This list is not limited to but includes: Poets, scientists, politicians, role-playing gamers, demonologists, and all of these people require skill at how to properly make things up, and how to successfully borrow from others writings. It has been said that, “Good writers are inspired by the best, Great writers steal from the best.” We find in this a common and repeated pattern within all of the various workings throughout our time and the ancients. Even what were considered to be the “oldest” of writings were just indited accounts of popular verbal stories.
Equally important to this equation is understanding what happens after these things have been put forth, and how the ideas then spread, (or sometimes fail to), among the members of the relevant community. This leads it to be further incorporated into the imaginations of the society and culture, or in contrast, to be relinquished to the dust-heap of failed ideas, or in some cases, to even get their authors condemned. (The true fate of a “rebel”.)
This is as good a place as any to reflect upon the story of the rebellion of the angels, at least as a working literary theme. The first person as far as I can determine, to put this story into play was Milton, in a work which even Voltaire was forced to admire. However, the story as Milton tells it, is inconsistent. Lucifer and his fellow angels were, ``intellectual beings'' (II, 147). For any such creature to rebel against a power they knew was omnipotent would place them as being extraordinarily dumb creatures. The only other tangible solution is that they were extremely adroit creatures, which had found out God was not omnipotent and were planning to expose his flaw.
Another theory is that the rebel angels were simply acting out of defiance and spite, knowing their cause to be hopeless. This is not how Milton paints the picture, but there is a certain twang of perspicuous truth to that. (The Zoroastrian solution to the paradox was to make the opposing powers of good and evil, Ahura-Mazda and Ahriman, equally powerful and equally eternal. While admirably symmetric and logical, there have been strangely few takers for this notion. Zoroastrianism takes place over Christianity in terms of the tale of the timeline.)
In a general term, the later speakers on the category of Angels and Demons have opted to take up the central theme that God is less than omnipotent, and overtly hostile. The angels rebellion was a somewhat rational gamble, which failed miserably. This is where we find the whole problem of theodicy being insoluble within the bounds of Christianity; or indeed any religion which believes in a God that is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. There simply is no rational answer. If we say that God kicked the angels out knowing they were going to sin, (after all, he made them), then it means God is a sadist who enjoys torturing things. If we say God didn’t know, then he is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. At some point, it must be concurred that God (or at least the Christian versions) is either a sadist, or is not omnipotent.
The obvious flaw in the theorem that Demons are fallen angels lies in Etymology. The word “Angel” (Hebrew, malakh), is derived from angiras (Sanskrit), a divine spirit; and from the Persian angaros, a courier; also the Greek word angelos, meaning messenger. In Arabic, the word is malak (a Jewish loan word).
In popular usage, an angel denotes a supernatural being intermediate between God and man (the Greek "daimon" being a closer approximation to our notion of an angel than angelos). In early Christian and pre-Christian days, the term angel and daimon (or demon as we all now know) were interchangeable, as in the writings of Paul and John. The Hebrews drew their idea of angels from the Persians and from the Babylonians during captivity. The two named angels in the Old Testament, Michael and Gabriel, were in fact lifted from Babylonian mythology. The third named angel, Raphael, appears in the apocryphal Book of Tobit. "This whole doctrine concerning angels" (says Sales in his edition of "The Koran, Preliminary Discourse," page 51) "Mohammed and his disciples borrowed from the Jews, who borrowed the names and offices of these beings from the Persians."
While Enoch, in his writings dating back to earliest Christian times and even before, names many angels (and demons), these were ignored in New Testament gospels, although they began to appear in contemporaneous extracanonical works. They had a vogue in Jewish Gnostic, mystic, and cabalistic tracts. Angelology came into full flower in the 11th-13th centuries when the names of literally thousands upon thousands of angels appeared, many of them created through the juggling of letters of the Hebrew alphabet, or by the simple device of adding the suffix "el" to any word which lent itself to such manipulation.
An angel, though immaterial, that is, bodiless, is usually depicted as having a body or inhabiting a body, pro tem, and as winged and clothed. If an angel is in the service of the devil, he is a fallen angel or demon. To Philo, in his "On Dreams," angels were incorporeal intelligences. He held that the rabbis, on the contrary, thought of angels as material beings. In Roman Catholic theology, angels were created in the earliest days of creation, or even before creation, tota simul, that is, at one and the same time. In Jewish tradition, angels are "new every morning" (Lamentations 3:23) and continue to be formed with every breath God takes (Hagiga 14a).
In the pseudo-Dionysian scheme with its 9 heavenly choirs, angels are part of an order rank, lowest in the scale of hierarchy, while the seraphim ranking highest. The archangels show up 8th in the sequence, despite the fact that the greatest angels are often referred to as archangels. Strictly speaking, when one refers to the named angels in the bible, it is correct to say there are only 2 or 3. But the following may be considered: Abaddon/Apollyon, mentioned in Revelation as the "angel of the bottomless pit." Wormwood, referred to as a star (Revelation 8:11), but to be understood as an angel. If there is Satan, who in the Old Testament is a great angel, one of the most glorious, certainly not evil and with no hint of his having fallen. He goes by his title of adversary (ha satan). It is only in Christian and post-Biblical Jewish writings that ha-satan of the Old Testament is turned into an evil spirit. A case for including Rahab among the named angels of the Bible might also be made: Talmud refers to Rahab as "the angel of the sea."
So now, we have examined minor traces of the history of angels and demons, and where they came from. Now, we shall get to the heart of the matter before elaborating more on history.
Why are Demons considered Evil?
There seems to be an inherent and prevalent need to blame someone/something else in our society. People lack the ability to comprehend that both “good” and “evil” are completely impersonal traits that can be assumed by anyone and anything. What we also must define is what “Good” and “Evil” is. For instance, it is well known and documented how often America uses “war-time propaganda”. When we fight a foreign country, we have to pump up our soldiers and civilians to get their moral high for the war. The most obvious case of this was in the Civil War. The Civil War was not fought over slave rights; it was over state rights. The northern armies didn’t even decide to free the slaves until after the war had commenced. The reason was simple, the Union wanted to give their men a reason to fight. Moral was low in the Union army, and the Southern troops were pulling ahead. So, in order to encourage the war effort, all kinds of stories popped up about slave abuse and mistreatment. Most of these stories, were just rumors. In all actuality, a slave cost more than several cattle, and only the top 2% of southerners owned them. This was somewhat the rough equivalent of buying a Lear Jet today. With the amount of work that they produced, and the amount they cost, you wouldn’t beat them, any more than you would cattle. Further, if you think a pompous rich person (slaves were owned by African Americans who weren’t slaves, Native Americans, and white people), is going to go outside in the hot south to go beat up on a slave, you are ignorant. The majority of the time, the duty was passed on down through a chain of command to the slaves themselves to monitor their work. Further, the children of slave owners were usually raised by the slaves! (Tell that to all white supremacist groups out there.) You honestly wouldn’t beat your children’s nanny. We used this same type of propaganda against Japan in WWII, against Korea, etc.
So, we lied to our soldiers and civilians. Is this evil? Well, most people believe that lying is, and we especially didn’t keep our promises to the African American population after the Civil War, so, was that evil? Perhaps we should establish a clear example of what is and is not evil. From what I can tell, there are three major schools of thought on what is “Evil” outside of religion. Since religion and dogma make no sense, save perhaps to those who practice them, (and if you practice another religion, the other one looks strange), we shall stick to secular arguments for the case of this line of argumentation.
Might is Right: The basic line of argument in this is that the rules are made up by those who are the most powerful and influential. If you are strong enough, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of you and what you are doing. Even though it should be noted that a considerable percentage of the population didn’t agree with the Pope’s and their persecution of the Jews and the Crusades, they didn’t have the power to decide anything upon what would happen.
Moral Consensus: This says that it is the majority population of a given environment or area that determines what is considered to be directly linked to good and evil. Whenever a society changes through economic revolution, religious influence, or new social parties, the ideas revolving around and directly relating to “Good, bad, and evil” are all dramatically changed. Even though “Might is Right” generally determines what happens, “Moral Consensus” determines how those actions are looked upon.
Non-Sum Zero: A new and interesting theory, it defines good and evil to the varying degrees in which they relate to the people, of which, are affected by the displacement caused by an action. In other words, an action is defined good or bad based upon the principle that a “good” action benefits both people in the action, and an “evil” one is the benefit of one to the destruction of another. The term “Non-Sum Zero” is used to designate those kinds of actions. The degree in which someone is harmed or helped determines the varying degrees of how this relates to good and evil.
Keep all the above things in mind when reading the rest of this. Carl Gustav Jung argued that a person is born with both good and evil personalities that are gradually differentiated from one another as he/she develops. Usually, a person will unconsciously repress the evil side, creating a negative "shadow" in the unconscious mind. If the repression mechanisms overpower an individual, the shadow can explode without warning, thereby leading to destructive, evil acts. On the other hand, healthy individuals will integrate their good and evil sides on a conscious level. Therefore, evil can be controlled only when it is consciously understood and integrated.
Despite the realization that evil can come from within, many people perceive evil as coming from an external source. The primary purpose of this conceptional idea is that it lends itself onto casting imaginary projections onto a corporeal thing. We are constantly bombarded with people saying, “The devil made me do it; society is to blame; my mother is to blame”, blah blah blah. “Get rid of the television and the cd’s, and people will be non-violent!” Wait, people were sacrificing other people to gods long before the remote and television came into play, and the ever loving Vlad the Impaler was committing a rather wide variety of atrocities long before we ever looked at our first movie. It is amazing that as much as we know about society, we still wish to press our own fears and imaginations of the ethereal onto quantifiable sources. This viewpoint leads itself towards fear, and fear is the parent to cruelty. We must get rid of these things if we ever wish to press forward as either a culture, religion, or species. These false beliefs in Demons and Devils are just the personification of our own internal imagination on a conscious level.
The hardest part about accepting this fact is that it requires an introverted perspective, an inward realization that is somewhat time consuming, and moreover, painful. We are constantly taught through our own emotions and experiences, to those of others, to “pass the buck” along in the guilt and blame line. The idea of actually taking responsibility for our own actions seems to be a dismal and counterproductive notion. Yet, this is what we find when we turn the eye inward and start reflecting upon what we are really doing. If you achieve success, God and the Devil have little to do with it.
We must now turn to the ideas of the demons, and their origins and connotations. Within the Platonist tradition, "every daimonion is something between a god and a mortal" (Symp. 202E). This would seem to display the idea that a “demon” is an intermediate rank, located somewhere between God and man. In the Bible, we are left with this curious notion.
1 Corinthians 6:2-3 "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?"
The implication here would seem to say that even though Angels are of higher ranking in terms of power/might, humans rank higher in terms of Gods worth. The Christian authors used the word pneuma to do describe this. Roman authors also found that they had a problem in trying to find the correct word for this creature. Cicero used the word lares, (defied ancestors) in substitution for daimons, and Apuleius used the word “genius” (a guardian angel) for the word daimon. Because of the reoccurring difficulty in determining what exactly could be used to connect the word “daimon” with other known words, Apuleius decided the wisest idea would be to change the word to “daemon” and “daemones”. He uses this word 120 times in his writings. (Brenk 1986, 2134).
Now, what we obviously find here is an extreme difficulty in expressing the differences between ideas in the supernatural. Everyone had a different idea of what the “supernatural” was, (obviously, supernatural meaning “above natural” or above what we can perceive), so the constant wall of problems that later scholars had to deal with was describing things, “in Biblical terms”, when it obviously was referring to more than one set group of ideas and beings. To look even further, we must look into the civilizations that inhabited Mesopotamia and Syria. These two locations shaped the concepts of demons and the devil most directly. (Luck 1985, 165).
The “demons” of Mesopotamia were usually extremely mean spirits, but they were also lower than the actual gods in both dignity and power (Russell 1977, 92). Meanwhile, the Babylonians had an established ranking system, which distinguished the rank and purpose of the evil spirits. (Saggs 1962, 302). There were demons for every occasion, just like in the Middle Ages. There were spirits for plagues, graveyards, nightmares, headaches, and many other common problems. One of the most frightening ones was Lilitu or Ardat Lili, the Mesopotamian prototype of the biblical Lilith (Isaiah 34), who would roam around at night attacking men as a succubus, or by drinking their blood. (Give me patience here, I’ll talk about her and the early Bible in a while.)
Another prominent figure in the development of the Western structure of the demons was the Zarathushtra in Iran, right before the 600 BCE mark. The idea that they had was the duality in existence, that evil manifests itself as a principle separate from the “divine” or good. Zoroastrianism is recognized as the first religion to promote duality in existence, that there are two independent principles of separate origins, from which we get “good” and “evil”. From this, we derive the idea that because everything that exists is not from one principle, (what most religions would call “God”), neither principle has absolute power, thus “good” and “evil” are on equal footings. This was actually somewhat of a sacrifice play.
By giving up the idea that God was omnipotent, Zoroastrianism did preserve the belief in the absolute benevolence of God, a problem Christianity has never tackled. (Russell 1977, 101). The original clash that brought this about was the conflict between the ahuras, the Elder Gods, and the Daevas. In Iran, the ahuras overthrew the daevas, and the leader of the ahuras became the High God. The High God was named “Ahura Mazda” the God of Light. Meanwhile, the daevas were dropped down to the lowest rank, transforming into an evil spirit, (what we now call a demon), and they became minions of Ahriman, the Lord of Darkness. The daevas had to lose their superior position obviously, if Ahura Mazda was to be made to the level of the “Supreme God”. (This type of “carnality” in turning older religions into new ones is rather common in most religions. All the big ones, Hinduism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam, and Judaism, have this central theme of vilifying other deities to support their new pantheon, or monotheism in these cases.)
Even though there were various systems of demonology predating the Greeks, they were the first to question the origin, nature, and exist of evil, in the strictest philosophical terms. These questions were posed based upon their myths and legends, most of which were strongly derived from the ancient Eastern cultures nearby. As has been noted in here earlier, there was not much distinction at this time between “Theos” (God) and “daimon” in the writings of Homer. More important than that, there was a lack of any singular dictated principle having the attachment of “evil” to it. The only principles of either good or evil at this time of mythology are dictated from Zeus, the one God. All the other Gods, or “lesser” Gods, were manifestations of him. More important than the pantheistic design, was the recognition of the fact that all the Gods displayed varying amounts of both good and evil qualities in their myths. Even further than that, they both possessed ouranic (heavenly) and chthonic (underworld) characters, the latter being more often associated with evil (Russell 1977, 123). Brenk notes that in Homer's Odyssey, "the daimon acts very much like a god, except that it tends to be unidentifiable and evil" (Brenk 1986, 2074).
The big question must be asked then. “How did the impersonal and powerful force in Homers epics become the evil demon of modern times?” As Brenk points out, the concept of a supreme power ruling the World had become firmly establish by the time of the early Imperial period. (Brenk 1986, 2068). What was left over was an extreme multitude of Gods and Goddesses, all of whom had to be placed in a specific category and hierarchy. As in the earlier case of Zoroastrianism and the battle between the ahuras and the daevas, the lesser divinities had to be relegated to the ranks of daimones, which was now associated with a lesser spirit between mankind and the Gods.
When we turn towards Homer’s writings, we find that a “daimon” has no visible shape, mind, or history. (Brenk 1986, 2081). This Homeric “daimon”, which can affect the mind and dreams, can be responsible for either good things or bad things. The exact usage of this is defined in later literature periods.
The first of these periods is directly after Homer (Circa 800 BCE). Hesiod writes about the five successive races of mankind: The golden, silver, the bronze, the heroic, and the iron. He states that the “golden races” live in the form of benevolent daimons”. This golden race is a specific privilege given to them by Zeus. Hesiod further establishes a ruling order, upon which he placed the Olympian Gods at the highest realm. The stream then trickled downhill, with the good spirits of the “upper order” followed by the bad ones of the lower order. The Greeks worshipped all of these groups, and for good reason. They figured they could place blame on the spirits of the lower order, thereby exonerating the Gods and demons who belonged to the “Good” side of the pantheon. (Luck 1985, 181). A Platonist from the First Century C.E. states that Hesiod was the first to distinguish between the daimones and the Gods, and the very first to distinguish between the good and bad ones. The two depart ways in theological ways after this, because Plutarch believed that daimones are really the souls of those who died.
Another important addition by Plutarch is that he made the introduction of demons as an intermediary. Plutarch states in his dialogue, “On the Cessation of Oracles” that the Gods all communicated through daimones. These daimones could then punish the guilty, sustain the oracles, and supervise sacrifices. Most of this came from the “Symposium” in the Platonic texts, which states that a daimon is an intermediate spirit. To add a little bit of math to the equation, (what good gematria lover couldn’t have a little math?), Xenocrates states that a geometrical expression can be used in the realm of the daimones. He said that an isosceles triangle is related to the intermediate nature of the daimons, and this idea was very much enjoyed by Plutarch, who had tons of lunar demonology.
Plutarch further asserted that the great oracles of the ancient world were losing their power and prestige. He said that the gods are not responsible for the oracle shrines, but rather, the minor deities (daemons), who grow old and die after many centuries. In order to prove his theory, Plutarch tells the story about the death of the Great Pan, a famous and powerful daemon:
“As for the death of daimones, let me relate the words of a person who was not at all gullible or given to sensationalism. The father of Aimilianos the orator, whom some of you heard, was Epitherses, a fellow citizen of mine and my schoolteacher. He said that once while about to sail to Italy, he embarked on a freighter heavily burdened with passengers and goods. Around evening as it approached the Echinades Islands, the wind dropped and the ship began to drift near the Paxoi. Almost everyone was awake and some who had finished eating were still drinking wine. Suddenly from the Isle of Paxoi they heard a voice and someone calling out "Thamous," to the amazement of all. The name of the pilot, an Egyptian, was Thamous, but most on board were unaware of it. Twice he was called, but did not answer. But the third time he responded to the caller, who said, raising his voice, "When you get near Palodes, bring the news to them that the Great Pan is dead." Epitherses related the astonishment of the witnesses, and their discussion on whether to obey the command, or avoiding unnecessary involvement, to leave the matter alone.
In these circumstances Thamous reached the conclusion that if the wind kept up, he would sail past quietly, but if there were no wind and the sea were calm, he would report what he had heard. As he got near Palodes, with neither breath nor swell, Thamous stood on the stern, and facing land said the words just as he had heard them: "The Great Pan is dead." He barely got the words out of his mouth when an enormous groan was heard, not just of one person, but of a multitude, mixed with cries of surprise. Since quite a few were present, the word quickly spread at Rome, and Thamous was summoned to the Emperor Tiberius, who was so convinced of the account that he became interested in learning about Pan. The classical scholars at the court, who were numerous, thought it most probable that he was the son of Hermes and Penelope. 419b-e, translated in Brenk (1986) 2119-20”.
This inquiry into the specific nature and concepts of evil continued on for many centuries, with great thinkers such as Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, and so on. It was through philosophical reflection that a general view of good and evil was obtained. Moral evil was viewed as a "transgression of proper limits" and it usually expressed itself as hubris, arrogant pride (Russell 1977, 168). The development of ancient demonology led to the development of the concept of the Devil. Originally, the daimones were morally ambivalent like the gods. Then they were separated into two groups -- a higher order of good daimones and a lower order of evil daimones. Eventually, the semantic change led to a vocabulary change and the good spirits were called angels and the evil spirits demons. Then a systematic demonology developed in the New Testament and it became a part of the European tradition.
Now, we come to the greater question. “What are the demons and who is the Devil?” Russell states that: "The Devil is a metaphor. Even as such he is not to be dismissed, for we have no access to absolute reality and must always rely upon the metaphors that our minds manufacture from sense observations, reason, and unconscious elements" (Russell 1984, 307). If we therefore state and demonstrate that demons and the Devil are only metaphors or personifications of evil, then there must be an alternative way of understanding evil. These metaphors have not worked, since, as the Gnostics astutely asserted long ago, people like to turn events known only in the science of their religion, and turn them into an easy to identify story. (The story of Jesus from the Essenes, versus the story of the New Testament). These overly literal personifications have been detrimental for the most part, serving only as a shield from the conflicts of society in the higher order and processes.