Satan as the Underdog Hero

When reading the Bible, I always saw Satan as sort of the underdog hero of the story. You have to read very closely of course – the devil is in the details.

Let’s start at the very beginning. In the Genesis story, God creates Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Among the many plants in the garden, God places the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

God then tells Adam and Eve not to eat of these two special trees.

Now here’s the rub: we’ve established that Adam and Eve have no knowledge of good and evil at this point. Right? I mean that’s the whole point of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – to give them knowledge that they do not yet possess. This is also explained by them not being ashamed of being naked until after they eat from the tree.

Thus, if Adam and Eve have no knowledge of good and evil, then how can they be expected to know that it is right (or good) to follow God’s request and wrong (or evil) to disobey? They don’t have that knowledge yet!

“Knowledge forbidden?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be a sin to know?
Can it be death?”

– Lucifer in John Milton’s Paradise Lost[1]

Similarities Between Satan and Prometheus

In other words, Satan here can be seen as the giver of Knowledge[2]. Compare this to the Greek story of Promethius, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to us mortals. The theme of both stories is that a powerful being stole something from the gods (knowledge or fire) to help humanity to advance.

Appropriately, the Latin  word “Lucifer” translates to “Morning Star” (a possible nod to Venus). But when used as an adjective, “Lucifer” can be used to mean “light-bringer”, which is essentially what both beings did: Lucifer, by bringing humanity to the light, and Prometheus, by literally bringing humanity a light source.

Another possible correlation (though it may be a stretch) is that Prometheus was punished by Zeus by being bound to a rock and having an eagle (Zeus’s symbol) swoop down and munch on  Prometheus’ liver – which would promptly grow back – each day for eternity.

Interestingly enough, Satan was punished by God by being forced to slither on his belly like a snake(Genesis 3:14), which is a known prey to eagles.

A perhaps more obvious correlation between the stories is how humanity was punished for their new gifts.

Initially, Adam is punished by being forced to work the land for his food and Eve was punished with painful childbirth. But as a further implication, Adam and Eve are believed by many to be responsible for original sin. Similarly, Zeus punished humanity for Promethius’ gift by having Hephaistos create Pandora, the first woman, who is known for unleashing evil unto the world.

Death By Satan

It’s also important to note that the only people Satan is said to have killed were Job’s family and servants – and only after being told to do so by God. Meanwhile, God is responsible for countless of billions of deaths all throughout the Bible.

For that matter, Satan even tried to feed Jesus when he saw that he was starving. I mean, okay Jesus was only fasting, but why is the Bible so quick to shit all over Satan? I swear, the man can’t do anything right by y’all!

At any rate, I simply cannot see Satan as a violent monster as I feel many make him out to be. At worst, he might be a bit of a trickster entity, like Enki or Loki. Appropriately, Prometheus was also considered a big trickster. Some folks just can’t take a little joke here and there apparently.



[1] Obviously Paradise Lost is not Biblical cannon. But it is some of the most beautiful poetry out there. Also, considering that Milton was a friar, I think it’s safe to say he was well informed with his tales. At the very least I think we could consider it a supreme work of fan fiction, if not a revered part of the Extended Universe.

[2] While the serpent in Genesis is not immediately related to Satan, it is in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2. Though obviously the significant distance (both space and time-wise) between the supporting passages puts some doubt that the serpent of the Creation Story was ever intended to be known as Satan, the correlation is nevertheless widely-held all throughout Christian literature.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s