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Satan In Culture

SATAN IN CULTURE
By Pamela Miller
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Popular culture: Pop-culture images of Satan are as goofy as the fork-waving, horned red fellow on cans of Underwood Devild Ham and as scary as Louis Cyphere (Lucifer), the long-nailed, egg-swallowing character Robert De Niro played in the 1987 thriller "Angel Heart." (The egg symbolized a soul.) Others: Musical references both eloquent (Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So," the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" and innumerable blues songs ) and creepy (Marilyn Manson's "Highway to Hell"); cinematic treatment in "The Exorcist,"The Omen,"Rosemary's Baby,"Constantine" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose."

Literature: The Devil has spiced many a literary work, from Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown" to the "Left Behind" series. Versions of the tale of Faust, who sells his soul to Mephistopheles in return for material knowledge, abound in every artistic genre. In Dante's "Inferno," the Devil appears as a three-headed creature trapped in a frozen lake and gnawing on prominent sinners' skulls. In John Milton's "Paradise Lost," Satan is a proud, fierce, tragic villain who believes it is "better to reign in hell than serve in heaven" and whose depiction, many scholars argue, is more vivid than that of God or Adam. The romantic poet William Blake was so impressed by Milton's Satan that he wrote that Milton was "of the devil's party without knowing it."

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