How does the portrayal of the devil as a rebel and hero com-plicate our view of the heroic and what might it tell us about theheroes of the period in which these images/texts were created?
There is a wonderful moment of suspense in J.R.R. Tolkien’s
The Lord of the Rings
, which occurs during the Fellowship’s ﬂight from the host of orcs, deep within the Mines of Moria. Gandalf utters the words, ‘There issome new devilry here’ (430). It is, of course, the moment which preceedsthe arrival of the Balrog, Tolkien’s spectacularly dark and hellish entity.Yet this moment is made all the more interesting by Tolkien’s use of theword ‘devilry’. It emphasises the association of evil and malcontent withthe devil, more speciﬁcally, Satan, the most widely recognised antagonistof mankind in a religious context. Indeed, the very mention of the word‘devil’ transcends religion, as it connotes the resoundingly negative, whilenot necessarily referring to Satan himself.There is, then, an inescapable contradiction in any representation of Satanas a hero – he is the villain of the ages. Many failings of mankind have insome way conveniently been attributed to Satan. The heroic representationsof the devil that exist are a dichotomy and it is this curious aspect which weshall try to explore.The ﬁre and shadow of Tolkien’s Balrog are a close link to Milton’s de-scription of hell in
, with its ‘sulphur ﬁres’, burning in ‘absolutedarkness’ (I.69-72). It is appropriate to begin with Milton’s text in the ex-amination of Satan’s heroic literary depictions. The Satan of
is perhaps one of the most sympathetic interpretations of the devil in ex-