For well over a thousand years, we humans have tried to imagine what the Devil might look like incarnate.
Early renderings generally showed us a human-like figure with wings and horns, like this engraving from the year 1288. Those traits were most famously explored by John Milton in “Paradise Lost,” his 1667 epic poem about the Devil. Milton gave us the Lucifer we have pictured ever since. But ever since, we’ve also freely applied other traits to the Devil.
Take the engraver Giovanni Volpato, who created this image before his death in 1803. He imagined a somewhat softer, prettier version of the fallen angel.
Lucifer is no stranger to politics. During the Civil War, artist Benjamin Henry Day depicted a dark-winged Lucifer crowning Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, while Lady Liberty and George Washington in contrast are bathed in light.
Disney gave us a new image of Lucifer in 1950 in “Cinderella”: the menacing cat with the Devil’s name who torments (and is tormented by) Cinderella’s beloved mice in this splendid animated scene.
Of course, Disney has also provided animated examples of the standard red, pitchfork-bearing Devil. In “The Emperor’s New Groove” in 2000, the Devil on character Kronk’s shoulder advised, opposite the angel: “Don’t listen to that guy. He’s trying to lead you down the path of righteousness. I’m gonna lead you down the path that rocks.”
In recent years, it seems, we see Lucifer everywhere. Post reporter Dan Morse met Washingtonians who sense Satan in the Washington Monument.
This lovely lion at the London Zoo even got saddled with Lucifer for a name.
And today, thanks to the Stanford Daily, we know about John Boehner’s own vision of “Lucifer in the flesh”: presidential candidate Ted Cruz.