The Devil’s 10 Best Appearances in Literature

We’re in the middle of spooky season, a particularly American phenomenon where the supernatural meets the commercial. There’s plenty of candy corn, jack-o’-lanterns, and people slapping together last-second costumes so they can look like sexy Dracula, a sexy mummy, or a sexy flesh-eating zombie.

It’s all good, clean fun (if you don’t count toilet-papering a house as “dirty”), even though the holiday does have its roots in both pagan and Christian traditions. Still, it’s hard to deny that there is something downright evil about contemporary Halloween. And who is the personification of all evil? The devil, of course.

So while you might be spending the days leading up to the 31st watching movies with Michael Meyers running around and slashing people, try not to forget that no matter how evil any psycho killer, ghost, ghoul, or goblin might be, the devil is the baddest bad guy of them all. And whether you call him Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, fallen angel, antichrist, or Ted Cruz, he’s had a long and fruitful relationship with literature; here are his ten best moments.


Inferno, Dante Alighieri

You know when somebody is complaining to you about something, and you keep thinking it could be way worse, but you struggle to find something witty to compare it to? You could just say, “At least you aren’t descending into hell with a dead poet, only to end up coming across Satan and his three faces, half-immersed in ice, chewing on Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot while weeping.” This is the ultimate, and most terrifying example of eating your feelings that we can think of, and it is the only appropriate way to end a trip through Hades.