B is for Beelzebub

What is it with vampires? That’s the question that prompted me to start exploring the many mythological beasties other than Count Dracula and his kin who might or indeed have been used as the subject for novels and movies.  Previously we’ve had Ammet the Egyptian Devourer and Golem, the Jewish private detective made of clay.

Today’s favourite is Beelzebub, Prince of Demons.  A familiar name, but did you know he looks like this?

Beelzebub is Lord of the Flies; and when he doesn’t look like this he is a monstrous being who sits on a high throne; and has a swollen face and chest, huge nostrils, horns, bat wings, duck feet, a lion’s tail and hair.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘ugly as sin’? That was this baby.

Beelzebub was the demon of choice for witches in their Sabbats; they would summon him by shouting ‘Beelzebub goity, Beelzebub beyty’ (meaning Beelzebub above, Beelzebub below) and then he would appear and, um, fornicate with them all.

He was also, according to some sources, the most powerful demon in Hell, outranking even Lucifer.  According to the Gospel of Nicodemus, this happened when Satan rashly dragged Jesus to Hell after the crucifixion, despite being warned not to do so by his ugly-as-sin second in command Beelzebub.  Jesus arrived in hell, ran amok, trampled over Satan, broke the chains of the imprisoned souls and rescued the trapped saints, then departed.

Now THAT’S a movie.  Brad Pitt as Jesus.  Paul Giametti as Satan, thwarted.

After this fiasco, Satan felt obliged to hand over control of his empire to the wiser head of Beelzebub, with the words ‘Satan the Prince shall be subject to thy dominion forever’.

Now we’re into gangster movie territory.  Beelzebub is Michael Corleone, Satan is Don Corleone choosing retirement.

This Prince of Demons, and lord of hell, and shag-meister extraordinaire has a predominant place in demonological lore, and was one of the many demons bound by that old bugger Solomon (who commanded armies of demons and djinns to build his temple; imagine Richard Rogers doing that.)  He is, frankly, the most powerful and evil mythological demon of all time.  Beelzebub versus Count Dracula; no contest!  And any magician foolish enough to summon him risks apoplexy, epilepsy and strangulation; plus, if you summon Beelzebub you will end up with a giant slavering fly in your living room, crapping upon the carpet; try explaining THAT to the wife.

There have of course been many demons featured in novels and movies and TV series.  My favourites include Japhrimel, in Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine books, Hell Boy (the comics more than the films),  and the Meg Masters demon in Supernatural.  That show also features the  green-eyed demon Azazel , who in real life (?) looked like this.

Azazel was also the inspiration for the mutant-demon character Azazel in  the X-Men, who looks like this:

And, for the hell of it, let’s end on Hell Boy:

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