Friday, January 08, 2010

Macbeth Consulting the Witches

Macbeth Consulting the WitchesTitle: The history of the devil and the idea of evil: from the earliest times to the present day. ATLA monograph preservation program. Author: Paul Carus. Publisher: Open Court, 1899. Original: from Harvard University. Digitized: Nov 28, 2007. Length: 496 pages. Image by Godefroy Engelmann (August 17, 1788 - April 25, 1839)

The Protestant Devil became somewhat more cultured than the Catholic Devil, for the advancement noticeable in the civilisation of Protestant countries extended also to him. Says Mephistopheles in Faust:

"Culture which smooth the whole world licks

Also unto the Devil sticks."

To note the progress, let us compare Wyntoun who wrote early in the fifteenth century and Shakespeare. Wyntoun's witches are ugly, old hags; Shakespeare's, although by no means beautiful, are yet interesting and poetical; they are " so withered and so wild in their attire that look not like the inhabitants o' th' earth and yet are on it." It is a poetical fiction representing temptation. And in this same sense the very word Devil is frequently used by Shakespeare. We are told, "'tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted Devil," and one fiend, as we read in Shakespeare, is the invisible spirit of wine. "The Devil," we read in Hamlet, "hath power to assume a pleasing shape." And the meaning of this sentence is plainly psychological, as we learn from another passage in which Polonius says to his daughter:

"With devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The Devil himself."

This Image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1924 are now in the public domain.

This file is also in the public domain in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris in this case Godefroy Engelmann (August 17, 1788 - April 25, 1839), and that most commonly runs for a period of 50 to 70 years from December 31 of that year.

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