History of the Devil, by Paul Carus, , at sacred-texts.com
THE question as to the nature of evil is by far the most important problem for philosophical, religious, and moral consideration. The intrinsic presence of suffering is the most obvious feature that determines the character of existence throughout, but gives at the same time origin to the most important blessings that make life worth living. It is pain that sets thoughts to thinking; a state of undisturbed happiness would make reflexion, inquiry, and invention redundant. It is death which begets the aspiration of preserving oneself beyond the grave. Without death there would be no religion. And it is sin that imparts worth to virtue. If there were no going astray, there would be no seeking for the right path; there would be no merit in goodness. Blame and praise would have no meaning. In this absence of want, imperfection, and all kinds of ill, there would be no ideals, no progress, no evolution to higher goals.
The Mythology of Evil.
Mythology being always a popular metaphysics, it is a matter of course that the idea of evil has been personified
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among all nations. There is no religion in the world but has its demons or evil monsters who represent pain, misery, and destruction. In Egypt the powers of darkness were feared and worshipped under various names as Set or Seth, Bess, Typhon, etc. Though the ancient Gods of Brahmanism are not fully differentiated into evil and good deities, we have yet the victory of Mahâmâya, the great goddess, over Mahisha, the king of the giants. 2 Buddhists call the personification of evil Mâra, the tempter, the father of
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MAHÂMÂYA, THE SLAYER OF MAHISHA.
(From Moor's Hindu Pantheon, Plate xix. Cf. Wilson, Hindu Mythology, p. 249)
lust and sin, and the bringer of death. Chaldean sages personify the chaos that was in the beginning, in Tiamat,
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THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE CHAINED RULER OF HELL. Missal of Poitiers.
the monster of the deep. The Persians call him Angra Mainyu or Ahriman, the demon of darkness and of mischief, the Jews call him Satan the fiend, the early Christians, Devil (διάβολος), i. e., slanderer, because, as in the
story of Job, he accuses man, and his accusations are false. The old Teutons and Norsemen called him Loki. The Middle Ages are full of devils, and demonologies of the Japanese and Chinese are perhaps more extensive than our own.
The evolution of the idea of evil as a personification is one of the most fascinating chapters in history, and
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SATAN ACCUSING JOB.
Fresco by Francesco da Volterra, in the Campo Santo at Pisa.
the changes which characterise the successive phases are instructive. While the old Pagan views survive in both Hebrew and Christian demonologies, we are constantly confronted with accretions and new interpretations. Franz Xaver Kraus, in his History of Christian Art 2concedes
that our present conception of the demons of evil is radically different from that of the early Christians. He says:
"The popular conceptions of the early Christians concerning devils are essentially different from those of the present time. The serpent or the dragon as a picture of the Devil appears not only in the Old Testament (Genesis iii. 1), but also in Babylonian literature, in the Revelation of St. John (xii. 9), and in the Acts of the
SATAN IN HIS UGLINESS.
Martyrs. We read in the Vision of Perpetua: "Under the scales themselves [i. e., for weighing the souls] the dragon lies, of wonderful magnitude.'" 1
The intellectual life of mankind develops by gradual growth. The old views are, as a rule, preserved but transformed. There is nowhere an absolutely new start. Either the main idea is preserved and details are changed, or vice versa, the main idea is objected to while the details
remain the same. Gunkel has proved 1 that the splendid description of Leviathan (in Job xli) as a monster of the deep protected by scales is a reproduction of Chaldæan mythology, and God's fight with the monsters of the deep is a repetition of Bel Merodach's conquest of Tiamat. Changes of a radical nature take place in the religious conceptions of mankind, yet the historical connexion is preserved.
The conception of evil in its successive personifications would be humorous if most of its pages (especially those on witch-prosecution) were not at the same time very sad. But for that reason we must recognise the prestige of the Devil. The pedigree of the Evil One is older than the oldest European aristocracy and royal
families; it antedates the Bible and is more ancient than the Pyramids.
Having outlined in the preceding chapters the history of the Devil, we shall now devote the conclusion of this book to a philosophical consideration of the idea of evil; and here we are first of all confronted with the problem of the objective existence of evil.
The Era of Subjectivism.
The question presents itself: "Is not evil the product of mere illusion? Is it not a relative term which ought to be dropped as a one-sided conception of things? Does it not exist simply because we view life from our own subjective standpoint, and must it not disappear as soon as we learn to comprehend the world in its objective reality?" The tendency to regard evil as a purely negative term is at present very prevalent, for it agrees with the spirit of the times and is one of the most popular notions of to-day.
In ancient times man was in the habit of objectifying the various aspirations and impulses of his soul. In order to understand beauty the Greek mind fashioned the ideal of Aphrodite, and the moral authority of righteousness appeared to the Jew as Yahveh the Lord, the Legislator of Mount Sinai. Religious aspirations were actualised in the Church by means of ceremonials and ecclesiastical institutions.
Things changed at the opening of that era in the evolution of mankind which is commonly called modern history. A new age was prepared through the inventions of gunpowder, the compass, and printing, and began at
the end of the fifteenth century with the discovery of America, and the Reformation. The more the horizon of the known world grew, the more man began to comprehend the importance of his own subjectivity. The tendency of philosophy since Descartes and of religion since Luther, has been to concentrate everything in man's individual consciousness. That alone should have value which had become part of man's soul. Man's consciousness became his world, and thus, in religion, conscience began to be regarded as the ultimate basis of conduct. Men felt that religion should not be an external, but an internal, factor. Toleration became a universal requirement, and subjectivity was made the cornerstone of public and private life. Thus the era of the Reformation showed itself as a revolutionary movement, which, proclaiming the right of individualism and subjectivity, overthrew the traditional authority of an external objectivity.
The originators of this movement did not intend to discard all objective authority, but the spirit of nominalism which dominated them prevailed over their movement in its further progress. The last consequences of the principle of subjectivity, which starts with the famous assumption cogito ergo sum, were not anticipated by Descartes, for he naively assumes objective existence on one of the most trivial arguments. Nor would Luther with his peculiar education and stubborn narrowness, which were by no means inconsistent accompaniments of his greatness, ever have endorsed later theories based upon the purely subjective aspect of conscience; but the fact remains that the last consequence of the recognition of
the supremacy of the subjective principle is a denial of any objective authority in philosophy, politics, religion, and ethics, which leads in politics to anarchism, i. e., individualism pushed to its extreme; in philosophy to agnosticism, i. e., the denial of any cognisable objectivity, worked out most systematically in Kant's critical idealism. In ethics it is the refusal to recognise any objective authority in morals; which leads either to Bentham's ethical egotism and hedonism or to intuitionism, and finally to Nietzsche's immoralism.
Our present civilisation is based upon the Protestant ideal of individualism, and nobody who lives and moves in our time can be blind to the enormous benefits which we derive from it. Nevertheless, we must beware of the onesidedness of subjectivism. Objectivism is not so utterly erroneous in principle as it appears from the point of view of modern subjectivism. The external methods of the Roman Church are mistaken; the tyranny of its hierarchical system which substitutes the priest's authority and an infallible papacy for God's authority is radically wrong; and the main task of Protestantism consisted in protesting against this authority, which, in spite of its self-asserted catholicity, is based upon the human authority of fallible mortals, an authority that was more frequently misused through bigotry and ignorance than through malice and selfishness.
There are Protestants who might object that Protestantism is not merely negative; it is also positive. It is not only a protest, but also an affirmation. True, indeed! But most of the Protestant affirmations are simply relies of the old Romanism which bound the consciences
of man and crippled his reasoning power. The fanatics among the Protestants are by no means friends of liberty and free inquiry; and the positive power, the new factor in history that was destined to build up a new civilisation, was nothing else than Science. Therefore, Protestantism is not as yet the last word spoken in the religious development of mankind. We must look to higher aims and more positive issues, and a new reformation of the Church will obtain them only on the condition of its again recognising the importance of objectivity.
Mankind will not return to the dogmatic system of hierarchical institutions, which would only bind again the consciences of men by man-made authority. But the fact must be recognised that truth is not a mere subjective conception; it must be seen that truth is a statement of facts, and, accordingly, that it contains an objective element, and that this objective element is the essential part of established truth.
In the old period of objectivism, the ultimate authority was lodged in great men, prophets, reformers, and priests, whose spirit, after it had been adapted to the needs of the powerful, was embodied in Church institutions. The new objectivism discards all human authority; it rests ultimately upon science, which is an appeal to facts. Truth is no longer what the Church teaches, or what some infallible man may deem wise to proclaim; nor is it what appears to me as true, or to you as true; but it is that which according to methodical critique has been proved to be objectively true, i. e., so proved that everybody who investigates it will find it to be so.
Objective truth, demonstrable by evidence and capable
of revision, or, in a word, Science, is the highest, the most reliable and the most valuable revelation of God. God reveals himself in the facts of life, among which we include our afflictions and personal experiences; God speaks in our conscience, which is, as it were, the moral instinct, the result of all our inherited and acquired experiences, and this is the reason why the voice of conscience makes itself heard in our soul with that automatic force which is characteristic of all deep-seated subconscious reactions. God also appears in our sentiments, our ideal aspirations, our devotions, our hopes and our yearnings. All these various manifestations are important and must not be lost sight of; but above them all is the objectivity of truth which speaks through science.
It is impossible for all men to be scientists, but for that reason it is not necessary that their minds and hearts should be enslaved by blind faith. The faith of every man should be the trust in truth, not in fairy tales that must be taken for granted, but in the truth,--the truth which in its main outlines is simple enough to be comprehensible to all,--the truth that this world of ours is a cosmic harmony in which no wrong can be done without producing evil effects all around.
Faith in the objective authority of truth is the next step in the religious evolution of mankind. We stand now at the threshold of the third period which will be, to characterise it in a word, an era of scientific objectivism. The tendency of the second era was negative, revolutionising, theorising; the tendency of the third will be positive, constructive, practical.
Negativism and subjectivism appear from the standpoint
of the positivism and objectivism of the first period as the work of the destroyer, of the negative spirit, the Devil. It is a reaction. This explains why Milton's Satan actually became a hero. Milton was a Protestant, a revolutionist, a subjectivist, and he unconsciously sympathised with Satan, who in the terms of a philosopher of the age declares:
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MILTON'S SATAN. (After Doré.)
The negativism of the second period is not a mistake. It was an indispensable condition of the third period; for it manufactured the tools for a higher and better positivism,--criticism. But criticism is insufficient for positive construction; we must have actual results, methodical work, and positive issues; and the prophet of the twentieth century finds it necessary again to emphasise the importance of objectivity.
Is Evil Positive?
A modern fable characterises the relativity of good and evil in the story of a farmer, who, weeding his field with a cultivator, curses the morning-glories which grow luxuriantly on his maize stalks as being created by the Devil. In the meantime his little daughter weaves a wreath of the same flowers and praises the beauty of God's handiwork. Evil and good may be relative, but relativity does not imply non-existence. Relations are facts too. If mischief is wrought by good things being out of place, the evil does not become chimerical but is as positive as any other reality.
In the same way, the relativity of knowledge does not prove (as some agnostic philosophers claim) the impossibility of knowledge. Concrete things, such as stones and other material bodies, are not the only realities; relations, too, are actual, and the same thing may under different conditions be either good or evil.
A proper comprehension of the relativity of goodness and badness, far from invalidating the objectivity of the moral ideal, will become a great stimulus that will work for the realisation of goodness, for there ought to be nothing so bad but that it can by judicious management be turned to good account. Badness, however, is sometimes spoken of as a mere negation, and the assertion is made that it is not a positive factor. Looking for the most characteristic representative of this view among the ablest authors of our time, we find a statement written by the well-known author of the novel Ground
Arms! Bertha von Suttner, one of the most prominent advocates of universal peace on earth. She knows as well as Schopenhauer that the ills of life are positive, for she describes all the horrors of war in their drastic reality. Nevertheless, Bertha von Suttner devotes in her ingenious book The Inventory of a Soul a whole chapter to the proposition "The Principle of Evil a Phantom." 1 She says:
"I do not believe in the phantoms of badness, misery, and death. They are mere shadows, zeros, nothingnesses. They are negations of real things, but not real things themselves.... There is light, but there is no darkness: darkness is only the non-existence of light. There is life, death is only a local ceasing of life-phenomena. . . . We grant that Ormuzd and Ahriman, God and Devil, are at least thinkable, but there are other opposites in which it is apparent that one is the non-existence of the other. For instance: noise and silence. Think of a silence so powerful as to suppress a noise. . . . Darkness has no degree, while light has. There is more light or less light, but various shades of darkness can mean only little or less light. Thus, life is a magnitude, but death is a zero. Something and nothing cannot be in struggle with each other. Nothing is without arms, nothing as an independent idea is only an abortion of human weaknesses . . . two are necessary to produce struggle. If I am in the room, I am here; if I leave it, I am no longer here. There can be no quarrel between my ego-present and ego-absent."
This is the most ingenious and completest denial of the existence of evil that we know of, and it is presented with great force. It is the expression of the negativism of philosophy from Descartes to Spencer. It seems to be consistent monism. And yet, we cannot accept it.
True enough, the idea of a personal Devil is as imaginary as a fairy, or an elf, or a hobgoblin; true also that there is no evil in itself, and no goodness in itself; the dualism of the Manichees is untenable. The evil principle cannot be conceived as an independent substance, essence, or entity. But for that reason we cannot shut our eyes to its real and positive existence. Granted that silence is the absence of noise; yet noise is not goodness, neither is silence badness. While I think or write, noise is to me an evil, while silence is bliss. Silence, where a word of cheer is expected or needed, may be a very positive evil, and a lie is not merely an absence of truth. The absence of food is a mere negation, but considered in relation to its surroundings, as an empty stomach, it is hunger; and hunger is a positive factor in this world of ours. Sickness can be considered as a mere absence of health, but sickness is caused either by a disorder in the system or the presence of injurious influences, both of which are unquestionably positive. A debt is a negative factor in the books of the debtor, but what is negative to the debtor is positive to the creditor.
If negative ideas were "mere abortions of human weakness," as Bertha von Suttner claims, how could mathematicians have any use for the minus sign? And if the idea of evil were an empty superstition, how could its influence upon mankind have been so lasting? On the one hand it is true that all existence is positive, but on the other hand we ought to know that existence in the abstract is neither good nor bad; goodness and badness depend upon the relations among the various existent things. And these relations may be good as well as
evil. Some existences destroy other existences. Certain bacilli are destructive of human life, certain antidotes destroy bacilli. There are everywhere parasites living upon other lives, and what is positive or life-sustaining to the one is negative and destructive to the other, and every such negation is a reality, the effectiveness of which neutralises the action of another reality. 1
The idea of goodness is by no means equivalent with existence, and badness with non-existence. Existence is the reality; it is the indivisible whole, the one and all. Good and evil, however, are views taken from a certain given standpoint, and from this standpoint good and evil are features forming a contrast, but as such they are always actualities; neither the one nor the other is a mere nothing. The question is only whether we have a right to regard our own standpoint as the positive one, representing that which is good, and all the powers that hinder human life as negative or evil.
The answer to this question seems to be that any and every being will naturally regard its own standpoint as the positively given fact, and every factor that destroys it as negative; his pleasure appears to him the standard of goodness.
And we grant that every being is entitled to take this standpoint, and that subjectivism naturally forms the initial stage of all ethical valuation. But we cannot rest satisfied with the principle of subjective autonomy as a solution of the problem of good and evil.
Is there an Objective Standard of Goodness?
Supposing that good were indeed simply that which gives pleasure or enhances my life, and bad that which gives pain or threatens to destroy it, the standard of goodness and badness would be purely subjective. The famous savage chief quoted by Tylor, and from Tylor by Spencer, would have fathomed the problem of good and evil when he declared that "bad is if anybody took away his wife, but if he took away the wife of some one else, that would be good." 1 Good would be that which pleases me; and the good as an objective reality would not exist. There would be something good for me, for you, and for many others, but what might be good for me might be bad for you. Goodness and badness would be purely subjective qualities without any objective value.
The view which bases ethics upon a consideration of pleasure and pain and defines goodness as that which affords the greatest amount of pleasurable feelings is called hedonism. The coarsest form of hedonism (as represented by Bentham) makes the pleasure of the individual supreme; it bases its ethics upon selfishness, and sees in altruism only refined egotism. The altruist is said to love but himself in others.
Let me add here that the intuitionalist basing ethics upon the voice of his conscience is, closely considered, also a hedonist, or at least a subjectivist, for he finds the ultimate authority for conduct in himself, viz., in the pleasure of those motor ideas of his which he calls his
conscience: what he is pleased to consider as ethical, he thinks is ethical. His standard of morality is the subjectivity of his conviction, which he is unable either to analyse or to trace to its origin. He differs from Bentham's hedonism of ethical egotism only in this, that the pleasure of his conscience overrules the lower pleasures of the senses.
Modern utilitarianism, as represented by Mr. Spencer, remains a purely subjective ethics, for it makes the greatest happiness of the greatest number the maxim of ethics; and by doing so it introduces no objective principle, but it simply proposes to replace every single subjectivity by the sum total of all subjectivities; and subjective ethical maxims are not as yet truly ethical; they remain on the level of the world-conception of Tylor's savage.
All subjective ethical theories fail to see the cardinal point of ethics, for the very nature of ethics is objective. If there is no objective authority for moral conduct, we had better openly declare that ethics is an illusion and what we call ethics is simply all arithmetical calculation in which pleasures and pains are weighed against one another and morality is at best only a dietetics of the soul. As a matter of fact, however, he who opens his eyes will see that there is an objective authority for conduct in life. Life and the factors in life are not purely what we make them. Here we are to run a race, and the course of the individual as much as that of mankind and all living beings is prescribed in a very definite and unmistakable way on the lines of what since Darwin we have accustomed ourselves to call evolution. We must learn to
recognise the necessity of progress which leads us onward on a straight and narrow path. Those who willingly obey the laws of progress advance on the path in spite of its thorns, joyously and gladly. The reluctant are urged forward and feel the smart of nature's whip, while he who obstinately refuses to heed the laws of the cosmic order goes to the wall.
Nature has no consideration for our sentiments, be they pleasures or pains. Happy is he who delights in acting according to her laws. But he who seeks other pleasures is doomed. Look at the situation from whatever standpoint you may, the criterion of right and wrong, of good and bad, of true and false, lies not in the greater or lesser amount of pleasure and pain, but in the agreement of our actions with the cosmic order; and morality is that which is in accord with the law of evolution. Ethics teaches us to do voluntarily what after all we must do whether or not it may please us.
In a word, ethics is unthinkable without duty, and the essential element of duty is its objective reality, its inflexible sternness, and its austere authority.
We say to the hedonist, a good action is not moral because it gives pleasure, but because it accords with duty; and we must not be on the search for that which gives us pleasure but must endeavor to find our highest pleasure in doing that which the cosmic law (or, religiously speaking, God) demands of us.
Those who deny that there is any objective norm of right and wrong in the universe, are inclined to claim with Huxley, that man survived not on account of his morality, but on the contrary, on account of his immorality.
[paragraph continues] It has been said that man is more rapacious, more egotistical, more immoral, than brutes. Without denying that an immoral man may sometimes appear more brutish than a brute, we cannot see that man is as immoral as, or even more immoral than, brutes. But the case is worth considering.
Says the wolf in Æsop's fable: "Why is it right for you to eat the lamb, when for me it is supposed to be wrong?" Is not man in the same predicament as the wolf, and does not mankind slaughter more animals than all the wolves in the world ever ate?
Granted that the wolf's pleadings are substantiated, we observe that man lives, but wolves are exterminated, which seems good evidence in favor of man's being in greater accord with the cosmic laws. And yet the actions of both, the wolf and the man, seem to be identical; or rather, if the blackness of a crime depended upon quantitative measurement by addition, we should have to decide in favor of the wolves; for man at the present time kills more sheep, pigs, and other animals in one year than wolves could devour in a century. Yet man possesses the impudence to call the wolf a robber and to drive him from the fold whenever he attempts to imitate man's voracity. What is the justification of slaughter in the one case, and what its condemnation in the other?
In answering this question we shall not idealise man's mode of living on the flesh of his fellow-creatures. For it appears that from a moral standpoint it would be preferable to sustain life without slaughtering lambs and calves, fowl and fishes. The case must not be considered from an abstract or ideal standpoint, but simply treated
as a comparison of the wolf's conduct with man's conduct; and we find that the more sheep a man eats, the more he raises. The wolf eats them without raising them. The wolf murders the lamb. However, the slaughter of the lamb by man is no murder, for it serves to increase and to sustain human souls, and the souls of man possess more truth and a higher insight into nature. The lamb dies as a sacrifice on the altar of humanity, and this sacrifice is right and good if, and in so far as, it substitutes higher life for lower life. Subjectively considered the wolf has the same right as man to kill a lamb; and also the same right as the lamb would have to kill wolves or men. The difference between man's and the wolf's actions appears only when we take into account the objective conditions of man's superiority, giving him a wider dominion of power which he can maintain because his soul is a better reflector of truth than are the notions of a wolf.
We must insist here that the attainment of a higher life, consisting in a fuller comprehension of truth and a greater acquisition of power, is one of the most essential requisites of morality. Morality is not a negative quality, but a very positive endeavor. We must abandon the old standpoint of negativism, that goodness consists in not doing certain things which are forbidden. Genuine goodness consists in daring and doing; and in doing the right thing. One genuine and positive virtue atones for many sins that consist in mere omissions. The sheep is by no means (as is frequently claimed) more moral than the wolf. The wolf is bad enough, but he is at least courageous and keen; the sheep is a coward, and with
all its cowardice it is stupid. It is time to discard the ovine ideal of morality which praises all lack of energy and of accomplishments as the highest type of goodness. What we need is a positive conception of virtue based upon a careful consideration of the requirements of life.
What higher life and lower life is cannot be declared to be an arbitrary distinction. It is not purely subjective, but can be defined according to an objective standard. Good to the savage is that which pleases him, and bad that which hurts him. Good, to him who has deciphered the religious mystery of the universe and understands the nature of God, is that which produces higher life, and bad is that which hinders, or perverts, or destroys it.
God is a religious term, and it is often claimed that knowledge of God does not fall within the domain of science; the idea of God and all other religious terms are claimed to be extra-scientific. Thus there are two parties both of which are under the influence of nominalistic subjectivism: religious agnostics and infidel agnostics. The belief of the former is as irrational as the disbelief of the latter. If there is an objective authority for conduct, we must be able to know it; we can obey it only in so far as we know it. Now experience teaches us that there is an authority for conduct, and the theory of evolution promises to prove it by positive evidence. This authority for conduct is called in the language of religion "God." Our scientists formulate under the name "laws of nature" that which is immutable in the various phenomena, that which is universal in the variety of happenings, that
which is eternal in the transient, and every law of nature is in its sphere a rigorous authority for conduct which in this sense is part and parcel of God's being.
The most important laws of nature in the ethical domain are those which regulate all the various and sometimes very delicate relations of man to man, which concatenate our fates and set soul to soul in a mutually helpful responsion.
Existence is one harmonious entirety; there is not a thing in the world but is embraced in the whole as a part
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LUCIFER BEFORE THE FALL. From the Hortus Deliciarum.
of the whole. The One and All is the condition of every creature's being; it is the breath of our breath, the sentiency of our feelings, the strength of our strength. Nothing exists of itself or to itself. All things are interrelated; and as all masses are held together by their gravity in a mutual attraction, so there is at the bottom of all sentiment a mysterious longing, a yearning for the fulness of the whole, a panpathy which finds a powerful utterance in the psalms of all the religions on earth. No
creature is an isolated being, for the whole of existence affects the smallest of its parts. Says Emerson:
The unity of the whole, the intercoherence of all things, the oneness of all norms that shape life, is not a
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THE FALLEN LUCIFER. (After Doré.)
mere theory but an actual reality; and in this sense the scriptural saying "God is Love" is a truth demonstrable by natural science.
Science proves that the whole of existence presents itself throughout as regulated by law; that it is not a chaos, not an incomprehensible riddle, but a cosmos. As a cosmos it is intelligible, and sentient creatures can
learn to understand its nature and adapt themselves to it. God is that feature in the world which conditions and produces reason; and reason is nothing but a reflexion of the world-order. The cosmic order of existence, the harmony of its laws, its systematic regularity, makes intelligence possible, and sentient beings will naturally develop into minds. God is that which changes individuals into persons, for reason and a rational will are the essential characteristic of personality.
Taking this ground we say, (adopting here, for the sake of simplicity, the religious term God,) those beings are good which are images of God.
The nature of progress is not (as Mr. Spencer has it) an increase of heterogeneity, but growth of soul. Evolution is not mere adaptation to surroundings, but a more and more perfect incarnation of truth. Adaptation to surroundings is, from an ethical point of view, an incidental blessing only of the power afforded by right conduct. 1
All facts of experience are revelations, but those facts which teach us morality (man's conduct to his fellow-beings) embody truths of special importance. They exercise a wholesome influence upon the development of our souls, even though the primitive man was not able to fully understand their why and wherefore. In the lack of a clear comprehension of facts themselves, man's imagination clothes them in the garb of mythological imagery. In our own days the great teachers of morality are still regarded as the Indian regards the medicine-man, and
the sacraments of the Church are treated like the totems of savages. Religion is now slowly passing out of the old stage of magic into the higher stage of a direct comprehension of facts. Myth changes into knowledge, and the allegory of the parable begins to be understood.
As astrology changed into astronomy, so the religion of miracles will give way to the religion of science.
We often bear God spoken of as good, and he is sometimes represented as goodness in general. But God is more than goodness. God is the objective reality of existence regarded as the ultimate authority for conduct. God is thus the standard of goodness; to call God good is an anthropomorphism. His creatures are more or less good, according as they are more or less faithful portraits of him, and as they obey his will. God is neither good nor bad, neither moral nor immoral, he is unmoral; yet, his nature and character is the ultimate criterion of goodness and of morality. And God's will can be learned from his revelations, which in the terms of science are called experiences, and which we formulate with exactness in what is called "the laws of nature."
God is not existence itself; He is not, either singly or collectively, the facts of the world; He is not the sum total of objects or existences. God is the norm of existence, that factor which conditions the cosmic order and is formulated by naturalists as laws of nature. Being the norm of existence, God is, above all, that omnipresent feature in the facts, in the objects of the world, in reality, which commands obedience. God's will appears as that something in experience to which we have to conform. In a word, God is the standard of morality and the ultimate
authority for conduct. This is nomotheism, but not pantheism, for it recognises the distinction between God and the All or sum total of existence. God is something distinct and definite, not an indifferent omneity. This is monotheism, but not the old monotheism, for it no longer looks upon God as one individual ego-being. Yet it preserves the nucleus of the oldest conception of God, and accepts at the same time all that is true in pantheism. 1
God was always an idea of moral import. God was and will remain (so long as the word is retained) the ultimate authority for conduct. Since the order of the world in its most general features is of intrinsic necessity, which means that under no conditions could it be imagined otherwise, God is the raison d'être not only of the world as it actually exists but of any possible world; and in this sense nomotheism teaches that God is supernatural. Supernaturalism may be untenable as it was understood by dogmatists, yet there is a truth in supernaturalism which will remain true forever.
Those who see in the facts of nature only matter in motion will naturally be surprised at the fact that a cosmos with living and morally aspiring beings can develop out of it. A deeper insight into the conditions of nature reveals to us that the world is a well regulated cosmos, having its own definite and immutable laws, and these laws are realities as much as material things. They are
not concrete entities, but they are real, nevertheless., and indeed of greater importance than the existence of sense-perceptible objects. The cosmos is not only an enormous mass of innumerable atoms, and molecules, and masses of suns and stars, but its finer texture shows that down into its most delicate details it is a wonderful systematic whole, full of life and consistency, and possessing an outspoken and clearly intelligible character, and the world-order which makes the world a whole possesses objectivity, i. e., it is a reality independent of what we think it to be. The world is not as we think it to be, but we must think the world as it is, and our duty is to act accordingly.
These are the plain facts of science which even the man who has no idea of science must heed. Only those creatures can in the long run of evolution survive who act according to the truth. Thus, the truth became embodied in moral rules, even before science could deduce or explain them. Religion is a revelation in so far as it is an anticipation of certain truths which were at the time of their invention still uncomprehended. Religious ideas, accordingly, had to be symbols, and could be communicated only in parables. Now, the more science progresses, the better shall we learn to understand the meaning of these parables.
God is in all things, but he is best revealed in man,--especially in the morally aspiring man, and this is the meaning of the ideal of a God-man, or Christ,--a Saviour whose teachings are the way, the truth, and the life.
Every man's conception of God is a measure of his own stature. He pictures God according to his comprehension,
and thus it is natural that every man has a different notion of God, every one's God being characteristic of his mental and moral caliber. On the lowest stages of civilisation devils and gods are almost indistinguishable, but while they become properly differentiated in the onward march of mankind we cannot fail to detect the parallelism between God and Satan which is never lost. The god of savages is a bloodthirsty chieftain; the god of sentimentalists is a good old papa; the god of the superstitious is a magician and a trickster; the god of the slave is a tyrannical master; the god of the egotist is an ego-world-soul; and the gods of the wise, of the just, of the free, of the courageous are wisdom, justice, freedom, and courage. The conception of evil in all these phases will always be the contrast to the ideal embodiment of all goodness.
Satan is at once a rebel and a tyrant. He proclaims independence but his rule bodes oppression and slavery. He himself is represented in chains, for the liberty of sin, which is licence, enthralls the mind. As Satan is a captive of his own making, so all the beings that belong to him are his prisoners. He is their torturer and destroyer.
A most drastic picture of Satan which is found in the missal of Poitiers, 1 is described by Didron as follows:
"He is chained to the mouth of hell as a dog to its kennel, and yet wields his trident sceptre as the monarch of the place which he guards. Cerberus and Pluto in one, he is yet a Cerberus of Christian art, a demon more hideous and more filled with energy than Pagan art has offered. . . . This image figures the various aspects
of infernal sin, by its many faces, having a face on the breast as well as on the head, a face on each shoulder and a face at each hip. How many more behind? With long ears like those of a hound, thick short horns of a bull, his legs and arms are covered with scales, and seem to issue from the mouths of the faces at his joints. He has a lion's head with tusks, and hands like the claws of a bear. His body, open at the waist, reveals a nest of serpents darting forth and hissing. In this monster we find all the elements of a dragon, leviathan, lion, fox, viper, bear, bull, and wild boar. It is a compound of each evil quality in these animals, embodied in a human form." Didron, Iconography II., p. 118.
While Satan is the rebel who seeks liberty for himself and oppression of others, God's kingdom signifies the establishment of right, which insures the liberties of all. Satan promises liberty, but God gives liberty. Schleiermacher, a learned and thoughtful man but of a weak constitution, physically as well as spiritually, still bows down in submissive awe before a God whom he conceived most probably after the model of the Prussian government, and defines religion as the "feeling of absolute dependence."
Poor Schleiermacher! What an abominable religion didst thou preach in spite of thy philosophical caution which, in the eyes of zealous believers, amounted to heresy!
It is worth while to criticise Schleiermacher's definition of religion, because it found favor with many people, especially in liberal circles; for it appealed to the free religious people as a definition which omitted the name of God and retained the substance of religion. Would it not be better to retain the name of God and purify its significance, than to discard the word and retain the substance
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THE FEELING OF DEPENDENCE.
(After Sasha Schneider.)
and source of the old superstitions? But it is an old experience that the Liberals are iconoclasts of external formalities and idolators of reactionary thoughts. They retain the cause of obstruction, and discard some of its indifferent results, in which it happens to find expression. They cure the symptoms of the disease but are very zealous in extolling its cause as the source of all that is good.
Schopenhauer in comment upon Schleiermacher's definition, said that if religion be the feeling of absolute dependence, the most religious animal would not be man, but the cur.
To the lovers of freedom the feeling of dependence is a curse, and Sasha Schneider has well pictured it as a terrible monster whose prey are the weak--those whose religion is absolute submissiveness.
Truly if we cannot have a religion which makes us free and independent, let us discard religion! Religion must be in accord not only with morality but also with philosophy; not only with justice, but also with science; not only with order, but also with freedom.
Man is dependent upon innumerable conditions of his life; yet his aspiration is not to be satisfied with the consciousness of his plight; his aspiration is to become independent and to become more and more the master of his destiny. If religion is the expression of that which constitutes the humanity of man, Schleiermacher's definition is, wrong and misleading, for religion is the very opposite. Religion is that which makes man more of a man, which develops his faculties and allows him more independence.
Monarchical Europe has generally characterised the Devil as the rebel in the universe, and in a certain sense he is. But he represents revolution only in its misguided attempts to gain liberty. Every rebellion which is not in its own nature self-destructive, is an expression of the divine spirit. Every dash for liberty is a righteous deed, and a revolutionary movement that has the power and inherent good sense to be able to stay, is of God.
Satan may be the representative of rebellion; God symbolises liberty. Satan may promise independence by a call to arms against rules and order; God gives independence by self-control and discretion. Satan is sham freedom, in God we find true freedom. Satan is an indispensable phase in the manifestation of God; he is the protest against God's dispensation as a yoke and an imposition,
and thus revolting against the law prepares the way to the covenant of love and spontaneous good-will.
We must only learn that independence cannot be gained by a rebellion against the constitution of the universe, or by inverting the laws of life and evolution, but by comprehending them and adapting ourselves to the world in which we live. By a recognition of the truth, which must be acquired by painstaking investigation and by accepting the truth as our maxim of conduct, man
rises to the height of self-determination, of dominion over the forces of nature, of freedom. It is the truth that makes us free.
So long as the truth is something foreign to us, we speak of obedience to the truth; but when we have learned to identify ourselves with truth, the moral ought ceases to be a tyrannical power above us, and we feel ourselves as its representatives; it changes into aspirations in us. True religion is love of truth, and being
such it will not end in a feeling of dependence, but reap the fruit of truth, which is liberty, freedom, independence.
The Devil-Conception in Its Relation to the God-Conception.
The evolution of the conception of evil is by no means an unimportant chapter in the history of religion,
for the idea a man has of Satan is characteristic of his mental and moral nature.
While the Bible declares that man is made in the image of God, anthropologists say that men make their
gods after their own image: and the truth is that every God-conception is characteristic of the man who holds it. It has been said: I will tell you who you are when you tell me what your conception of God is.
But the same observation holds good as to the conception of the Devil, and we might as well say, "I will tell you who you are when you tell me what your conception of the Devil is."
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GOD SUPPORTING THE WORLD. (By Buonamico Buffamalco.)
Fresco in the Campo Santo of Pisa.
There is a similarity between our conceptions of good and evil which cannot be accidental, for it is natural that all our thoughts should possess a certain family likeness. Your idea of the Devil is your best interpretation of your idea of God. It will be interesting to compare one of the most famous representations of God, holding the universe in his hands with the pictures of Mara, the Buddhist Satan with the world-wheel in his clutches. (See pages 119, 121, 123.)
This similarity can be proved from history.
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HERCULES WITH CERBERUS.
From a vase found in Alta mura.
The Trinity conception of Satan is as old as the Trinity conception of God. As we have Trinities among the Pagan deities, for instance among the Greeks, the three-headed Hecuba; so we have three-headed monsters as for instance, the three-headed Cerberus; and in the history of Christian art a similar parallelism obtains between God-representations arid Devil -representations. The idea of representing the divine trinity as a person having three faces may have originated in a modification of the two-headed Janus.
Professor Kraus says concerning the trinitarian demons of Christianity:
"The diabolical dragon is described as a three-headed monster (probably in recollection of Cerberus) in the Apocryphal Gospel of
Nicodemus, and in the Good Friday Sermon of Eusebius of Alexandria, who addresses the Devil 'Three-headed Beelzebul' (τρικέφαλε βεελζεβούλ). The idea of the Demon as a serpent with the head of a woman appears not earlier than the Middle Ages, in Bede, from whom it is quoted by Vincent de Beauvais."
Dante describes the three-faced Satan in these lines:
As according to Christian doctrine God is actualised in the God-man, so Satan in his turn is represented as the Antichrist and is pictured as a human caricature full of ugliness and wickedness. Professor Kraus continues:
"Simultaneously with the conception of the Devil as a dragon are found in the Acts of the Martyrs notions of him as an awful negro (a Moor or Ethiopian). The same views are found in Augustine, Gregory the Great, and the Apocryphal Acts of St. Bartholomew. In the latter, the idea is so far developed as to represent
the Devil as the archetype of deformity: he becomes a negro with a dog's snout, covered with hair down to his toes, with glowing
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ST. ANTHONY ASSAULTED BY DEVILS.
(After Schoengauer's copper engraving, 1420-1499.)
eyes, fire in his mouth, smoke issuing from his nostrils, and with the wings of a bat. We see that this pleasant description of
the Evil One, which perhaps is based on job xli. 9 et seq., contains all the elements of the grotesque conception of the Middle Ages. They are found also in the Vita S. Antonii where also the horns of the Devil are mentioned."
Compare for instance Milton's Satan with Goethe's Mephistopheles! The one heroic like the English nation,
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THE GOOD LORD AND THE DEVIL.
(In Goethe's Faust, by Franz Simm.)
a Protestant, a rebel, a dissenter, a subjectivist (see page 351 ff.), the other a sage, a scholar, a philosopher, like a German poet. Goethe's Mephistopheles is not as grand as Milton's Satan, but he is in his way not less interesting, for he is more ingenious, more learned, more
poetical. He is a philosophical principle, being the spirit of criticism; and as such he plays an important part in the economy of nature.
Mephistopheles characterises himself in these words:
And what a sympathy exists between Mephistopheles, the spirit of criticism and the dignified author of the Universe. The Lord says in the Prelude to Faust:
As God, now and then, needs the Devil, so the Devil is anxious from time to time to pay his respects to the good Lord. After the heaven is closed Mephistopheles remains alone on the stage and says:
Hobbling away, he stops before leaving the stage and turning to the audience adds:
Evil personified appears at first sight repulsive. But the more we study the personality of the Devil, the more fascinating it becomes. In the beginning of existence the Evil One is the embodiment of everything unpleasant, then of everything bad, evil, and immoral. He is hatred, destruction, and annihilation incarnate, and as such he is the adversary of existence, of the Creator, of God. The Devil is the rebel of the cosmos, the independent in the empire of a tyrant, the opposition to uniformity, the dissonance in universal harmony, the exception to the rule, the particular in the universal, the unforeseen chance that breaks the law; he is the individualising tendency, the craving for originality, which bodily upsets the ordinances of God that enforce a definite kind of conduct; he overturns the monotony that would permeate the cosmic spheres if every atom in unconscious righteousness and with pious obedience slavishly followed a generally prescribed course.
The ingenuous question, "Why does not God kill the Devil?" is comical enough, because we feel instinctively that it is impossible. I know of a good old lady who prayed daily with great fervor and piety that God might have mercy on the Devil and save him. Think of it closely, and this attitude is touching! How many great theologians have seriously discussed the problem whether the Devil could be saved. Like that good old lady, they were so engrossed in the literal belief of their mythology that they did not see that the problem implied a
contra-diction. For God and Devil are relative terms, and God would cease to be God if there were no Devil.
The universe is such that the evolution of a higher life is possible only through great strain. The evolution of the warm glow of a soul out of the cold clay of the earth, of moral aspirations out of the fierce hatred that animates the struggle for existence, of intelligence, thought and foresight out of the brute indifference of that unthinking something which we call matter in motion, is due to extraordinary exertions; it is the product of work performed by the expenditure of enormous energy, and constant efforts are required merely to preserve the treasures already won. Difficulties to be overcome are called in the terminology of mechanics "the power of resistance," and this power of resistance is, closely considered, an essential and even a beneficial factor in the constitution of the universe.
If there were no power of resistance, if no efforts were needed to reach any end desired, if the world were pleasure and goodness throughout, we should have no evolution, no progress, no ideals; for all spheres of existence would float in one universal ocean of bliss, and all things would be intoxicated with heavenly delight.
Pain produces the want of something better, and deficiencies arouse the desire for improvement. If the feeling substance of moners had all their wants satisfied without further exertion, man would never have risen out of the bythos of amæboid existence, and if the man of to-day lived in a Schlaraffia, he would not trouble about new inventions, progress, or any amelioration; he would simply live on in unthinking enjoyment. There would
be no need of making any effort, no need of struggling against evils, no need of virtue, no need of working out our salvation. There would be no badness, but there would be no goodness, either. All existence would be soaked with moral indifference.
Good is good only because there is evil, and God is God because there is a Devil.
As evil is not a mere negation, so the figure of Satan in religion is not an idle fancy. Goethe says:
["You have the Devil underrated.
I cannot yet persuaded be!
A fellow who is all-behated,
Must something be."]
Now, let us look at the mythical figure of Satan as represented in theology, folklore, and poetry. Is he not really a most interesting man? Indeed, in spite of being a representative of all kinds of crimes, be possesses many redeeming features so as to be great and noble. According to the account in the second chapter of Genesis, Satan is the father of science, for he induced Eve to make Adam taste of the fruit of knowledge, and the Ophites, a gnostic sect, worshipped the serpent for that reason. Satan produces the unrest in society, which, in spite of many inconveniences, makes the world move onward an(l forward; he is the patron of progress, investigation, and invention. Giordano Bruno, Galileo, and other men of science were regarded as his offspring and persecuted on
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THE DEVIL IN THE CAMPO SANTO (PISA).
his account by the Church. And when we glance over the records of the Devil-contracts, we learn to have respect for the old gentleman. Milton's Satan is a grand character, a noble-souled rebel, who would rather undergo an eternity of torture than suffer humiliation.
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SEAL OF SATAN.
Probably used in mystic plays of the fifteenth century. (From Didron, Chr. Iconography.)
Consider but the fact that, taking the statement of his adversaries alone, the Devil is the most trustworthy person in existence. He has been cheated by innumerable sinners, saints, angels, and (according to various old Church legends) even by the good Lord himself; and yet he has never been found wanting in the literal and punctilious fulfilment of all his promises; and all the bad experiences he has had in the course of millenniums have not in the least lowered his character. His mere word is honored as the holiest oath, or as the best signature verified with seals and legal witnesses. The instances are rare in which it is known that persons with whom he has had business transactions have requested him to sign a contract, to give a pledge, or to show any proof that he would honestly abide by his word; his honesty was never doubted by anybody. And mind you, it is not the Devil who boasts of his integrity, but this is the conclusion at which we arrive from the evidences adduced by his enemies.
Our sympathy for this martyr of honest conduct, the
dupe of God and man, grows when we consider our own nature and relation to his Satanic majesty. With our hands upon our hearts, must we not confess that every one of us, in spite of man's boastful claim of a likeness to God, has some trait or other that makes him kin to the Devil? I do not mean here to make reference to actual sin or grievous transgressions, but to things of which we scarcely think of repenting. Did we never in an hour of humor laugh at our neighbor? Did we never joke at the cost of somebody else? Did we never bulldoze, tease, or tantalise our very best friends? Did we never enjoy the awkward situation in which some poor innocent had been caught? And why should we not? If we took away from life its satire, jokes, and other "deviltries," it would lose part of its most fragrant zest, and if we constructed a man consisting of virtues only, would not that fellow be the most unbearable bore in the world, wearisome beyond description? For it is a sprinkling of petty vices that makes even a great man human. A mere ethical machine would neither be attractive nor arouse our sympathies.
The Devil is the father of all misunderstood geniuses. It is he who induces us to try new paths; he begets originality of thought and deed. He tempts us to venture out boldly into unknown seas for the discovery of new ways to the wealth of distant Indias. He makes us dream of and hope for more prosperity and greater happiness. He is the spirit of discontent that embitters our hearts, but in the end often leads to a better arrangement of affairs. In truth, he is a very useful servant of the Almighty, and all the heinous features of his character
disappear when we consider the fact that he is necessary in the economy of nature as a wholesome stimulant to action and as the power of resistance that evokes the noblest efforts of living beings.
God, being the All in All, regarded as the ultimate authority for conduct, is neither evil itself nor goodness itself; but, nevertheless, he is in the good, and he is in the evil. He encompasses good and evil. God is in the growth and in the decay; he reveals himself in life, and he reveals himself in death. He will be found in the storm, he will be found in the calm. He lives in good aspirations and in the bliss resting upon moral endeavors; but he lives also in the visitations that follow evil actions. It is his voice that speaks in the guilty conscience, and he, too, is in the curse of sin, and in this sense he is present even in the evil itself. Even evil, temptation, and sin elicit the good: they teach man. He who has eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mind to perceive, will read a lesson out of the very existence of evil, a lesson which, in spite of the terrors it inspires, is certainly not less impressive, nor less divine, than the sublimity of a holy life; and thus it becomes apparent that the existence of Satan is part and parcel of the divine dispensation. Indeed we must grant that the Devil is the most indispensable and faithful helpmate of God. To speak mystically, even the existence of the Devil is filled with the presence of God.
440:1 Egyptian Devil, reproduced from Montfaucon, has a human head from which project the heads of six animals, one of an ox, one of a bird, and four others, apparently those of serpents.
440:2 As to the myth of the origin of Mahâmâya, who is identified with Durgâ, see "the Chandi" in the Mârkandyea Purâna. Vishnu, beholding the wretchedness of the gods to which the powers of the victorious giant-king Mahisha had reduced p. 441 them, grew so enraged that streams of glory issued from his countenance taking shape in the figure of Mahâmâya. Similar effulgences came forth from the other gods and entered into the system of the goddess who then went forth and slew the buffalo-shaped monster Mahisha. Another account of the same myth is contained in the Vâmana Purâna. For details see Hindu mythologies under Mahisha and Mahishamardini (the slayer of Mahisha).
441:1 Didron, Chr. Icon., II., p. 119 (See pp. 468 and 469 of the present work.)
442:1 I A Persian Devil appears in an engraving in the Didron collection in the form of a man, clothed and wearing necklets, bracelets, and anklets, but with claws on his heels and toes, and horns on his head. He is named Ahriman, Spirit of Darkness, the Iranian enemy of Ormuzd, second-born of the Eternal One, like Ormuzd an emanation from the Primal Light; equally pure, but ambitious and full of pride, he had become jealous of the first-born of God."--Didron, Iconography, II., p. 122.
442:2 From a Turkish MS. obtained by Napoleon I. at Cairo and presented to the National Library at Paris (S.C. 242). Its author is Saïaidi Mahammed ebu emer Hassan esseoudi (990an), and the picture is described as follows: "The flesh of this monster is olive, his eyes are green with red pupils, and his tongue is also red. He wears a green scarf around his loins, pale purple trousers lined with blue, and necklets and armlets of gold."--Didron, Iconography, II., 122.
443:1 From Kugler's Italian Schools of Painting.
443:2 Geschichte der christlichen Kunst, Vol. I., p. 210.
444:1 Sub ipsa scala draco cubans mirae magnitudinis.
445:1 Schöpfung und Chaos. Göttingen, 1891.
445:2 The remarkable feature of this picture consists not only in admitting the Virgin Mary to the throne of the Trinity (which is quite frequent in similar representations) but in the double presence of Christ, as a full-grown man and as an infant.
453:1 Inventarium einer Seele. Chap. XV.
455:1 This exposition appeared first in The Monist, Vol. VI. No. 4. pp. 585 fl. In reply the Baroness Bertha von Suttner wrote a few courteous lines of recognition which may indicate that she is inclined to accept the author's arguments.
456:1 Tylor, Primitive Culture, Vol. II., p. 318.
464:1 Cf. Homilies of Science, "The Test of Progress," p. 36, and "The Ethics of Evolution," p. 41.
466:1 Pantheism identifies God and the All. Nomotheism teaches that the laws of nature are not laws given by God as a lawgiver may issue ordinances, but that they are manifestations of God and as such parts of the Deity. They are particular aspects of the eternal and all comprehensive norm of existence. Monotheism is the theory that there is one God, and monotheism is commonly understood to mean that this one God is a personal being. See the author's Religion of Science, pp., 19 et seq., The Authority for Conduct.
468:1 See the illustration on page 441.
472:1 Didron, Icon. Chr., pages 25 and 64
475:1 This conception of Serapis reminds one of Cerberus, and Manobius (Sal., I. 20) actually says that the heads of Cerberus are those of a lion, a wolf, and a dog. See Menzel, Vorchr. Unsterblichkeitslehre, II., p. 5
476:1 This picture is the embodiment of the Christian world-conception of the fourteenth century. A sonnet accompanies the fresco and explains that nine choirs of angels surround the world, in whose inner circles the constellations roll round the earth which occupies the centre of the universe.
477:1 This picture is a part of the representation of Hades, given on page 194.
485:1 Compare p. 164.
486:1 The inscription reads "Seel Lucifer mātre (i. e., maistre) d’abisme d’enfer.'