Who is Asmodeus?
Asmodeus is one of the “seven princes of hell,” a demon whose wickedness is matched only by his talent. He specializes in spreading lust, and he doesn’t just prey on common people. Kings, queens, and even divine beings have been affected by his touch!
Asmodeus may be the “prince of lust,” but his looks aren’t exactly tantalizing! He is a monstrous creature with three heads: one like a sheep, one like a bull, and one like a man. The man’s face may sound like the most normal, but with pointed ears, a hooked noise, jagged teeth, and a fire-breathing mouth, this “human” characteristic is perhaps the most ghoulish of all!
All of Asmodeus’s heads are crowded above one chest, which resembles a man. At the waist, his body undergoes another bizarre transformation, giving him the brightly-feathered legs of a rooster and the scaly tail of a serpent.
As if Asmodeus isn’t strange and disturbing enough, the demon rides an equally weird steed: a lion with the wings and neck of a dragon.
Some later myths have cut back on Asmodeus’s horror-box of physical traits. They describe him as a young man with an attractive face. He can be picked out of a crowd by his pronounced limp, and if you were to catch him without his clothes on—not hard to do, considering that lust is his specialty—you would find that he had one rooster leg.
Asmodeus is a powerful demon. He is considered one of the “seven princes of hell,” a position that requires a great deal of cunning and cruelty to obtain.
Each of the “seven princes of hell” is responsible for spreading one of the “seven deadly sins.” Asmodeus specializes in lust. In some cases, he fans the flames of lust. For example, he is connected to Solomon’s wife, Bath-sheba, and may have been responsible for amplifying her infamous sex-appeal. He is also a husband (or son) of Lilith, the “mother of all succubi.” In other cases, Asmodeus preys on people who succumb to lust. For example, he plagued a beautiful virgin named Sarah, killing seven consecutive grooms who wanted to marry Sarah and enjoy her body.
Although lust is Asmodeus’s bread and butter, he dabbles in other sins as well. He is said to lord over numerous gambling houses. And he delights in revenge. He will never miss the opportunity to fuel a grudge or help concoct violent plans for vengeance.
Later, Asmodeus was given a more light-hearted and playful personality. True, he was promiscuous and fond of a game of dice, but he didn’t have the evil intentions that one would expect from one of hell’s seven princes.
Most scholars agree that Asmodeus is derived from Aeshma-daeva, a wrathful demon who appeared in Persian Zoroastrianism around the 9th century BCE. Later, the Jewish and Christian faiths built off of Aeshma-daeva’s infamy, creating a new demon called Asmodeus.
In the Talmud and the Testament of Solomon (3rd century BCE), Asmodeus appears as one of the demons who was forced to help build Solomon’s temple. Unfortunately, Asmodeus proved to be too powerful for this slavery, and when his roving eye fell on Solomon’s beautiful wives, he decided enough was enough. He hurled Solomon 400 miles into the desert, then disguised himself as the king and took over his palace—as well as his wives. Eventually, Solomon returned and drove the demon out.
In the Book of Tobit (400 AD), Asmoedus appears again as an evil demon who kills several of Sarah’s husbands, only to be driven away by the Angel Raphael.
Later, Jewish and Christian theologians included Asmodeus in their categorization of demons. He showed up in important books, including Dictionnaire Infernal, where he was given his high ranking among the demons of hell.
Asmodeus faded out of popular culture centuries ago. He made his last stand during the 17th century, when Spanish and French playwrights reduced him to a sort of “genie in a bottle” role, a fun companion for a midnight romp. Today, only the most serious theologians could tell you who this obscure demon is.