Lucifer, the Fallen Angel

Pandemonium
John Martin, Pandemonium (1841). The name refers to the capital of Hell in John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (1667). (Source: Wikipedia)

What does the name of Lucifer evocate? Various answers would include terms like “Ruler of the Underworld” or “Satan” reigning over Hell, served by an army of demons, and probably drinking blood out of human skulls. Let’s sum it up: evil, flames, and a great imagery for hard rock music to be inspired from. Anything more?

Actually, it is worth noting that “Lucifer” originally means “light bearer”. This echoes the myth of a Fallen Angel who would have been excluded from God’s kingdom after his rebellion.

The Book of Enoch supports the Judaic religious view that the “Watchers” – the angels supposed to watch over mankind – eventually lusted after women and decided to make them their wives; hence numerous giants, the Nephilim, were given birth through these unions, who ravaged Earth soon after, being taught the arts of crafting weapons by the rebellious angels headed by Azazel.

Then, the angels who had remained loyal to God, Michael, Uriel, Raphael and Gabriel – I swear Galadriel has nothing to do with this – “looked down from Heaven and saw much blood being shed upon Earth” (chap. 9). They therefore alerted God about the havoc being wreaked, and He decided to take action to wash these sins away. He sent Uriel to warn Noah about a Deluge to come, meant to “destroy all wrong from the face of the earth and let every evil work come to an end: and let the plant of righteousness and truth appear” (chap. 10).

Paradise_Lost_12
“Satan descends upon Earth”, another illustration for Milton’s Paradise Lost by Gustave Doré

The remaining part is well known already. Russell Crowe would build an Ark, and place aboard both a male and female version of each animal species, so as to bring life back on Earth after the Great Flood.

Obviously, interpretations differ given the perspective used:  the Quran tells the story of a djinn named Iblis who “broke the Command of his Lord” when he refused to bow down to Adam, which was the reason for his being expelled from heaven. The Book of Revelation also presents war in heaven, but this time Satan is represented as a red dragon with seven crowned heads and ten horns, fighting against the angels led by the Archangel Michael who eventually defeated him and cast him out of Heaven (Revelation, 12).

Lucifer is so, once a respected angel, the next day a rebel banished from heaven. It was also the Latin name for Venus, since the planet is the second brightest object in the night’s sky after the Moon, which can even be seen in the daytime. Both the fallen angel and the planet share that characteristic: bright in broad daylight, brighter in the dark.

 


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