A while back, Professor Stuart showed two images depicting a “monstrous birth”. Both were from pamphlets made by Luther and his friend Melanchthon, made possible by Gutenberg’s printing press.
*Contrary to popular belief, Gutenberg was NOT the inventor of the printing press. Movable metal type was first invented in China and Korea, and had existed in Asia for hundreds of years before Gutenberg’s printing press even existed. However, Gutenberg’s version of the printing press made reading material easily (and cheaply) available to European peasants.
One of these images, the one depicting “The Pope-ass in Rome” (1523), caught my interest. The Pope-ass was a very influential Protestant pamphlet, as it depicted a monstrous being that was supposedly found dead in the Tiber River in 1496. Said creature was said to represent how corrupt the Roman papacy was. Now, since the pamphlet was made nearly 30 years after the creature’s corpse was sighted, I’m going to ignore its further religious significance. After all, being propaganda made by Martin Luther, it’s undoubtedly severely biased towards demonizing the Catholic Church and the Pope.
As Prof. Stuart said in the first lecture, demons are corrupt and otherworldly-looking because they incorporate parts from both sexes and different animal parts.
This is apparent in Melanchthon’s flyer, which shows a creature with a donkey’s head, human breasts, one human hand, two hooves (one as a hand and one as a foot), one bird’s foot, a tail with a humanoid and an avian demon’s face, and scales all over its body. While this drawing was no doubt shocking to the masses (uneducated peasants whose lives were dictated by religion and the supernatural) in the 15oo’s, I personally would say that it doesn’t look too bad for a demon. Aside from the oddly spread-out breasts, I’d say it is a rather handsome demon, as it still maintains a basically human shape, as opposed to say, Nyarlathotep’s “Moon Howler” form (or, God forbid, Azathoth).
The creature’s features remind me of how two demons that appear in SMT: the ever-populat Baphomet, and Adramelech, who I had mentioned before on Facebook.
Adramelech in SMT, drawn by Masayuki Doi (NOT Kazuma Kaneko!)
Adramelech is one of the few post-Kaneko demons, and is drawn by Doi instead of Kaneko. That’s not to say he’s a bad demon — Adramelech ended up being one of my favorites!
Now, design-wise, Adramelech has bird’s feet (like the creature), a donkey’s head (like the creature), human hands (like the creature), a human torso (Adramelech is male, while the creature, I assume, had a female torso), a peacock’s tail, and vibrant makeup! These elements, when combined, result in an uncanny effect created out of familiar objects put together where they shouldn’t be. This is what gives demons their otherworldly charm, after all! While Adramelech is clearly a lot more dolled-up than Melanchthon’s… thing (I mean, just look at his matching pedicured and manicured nails! And that lipstick! That eye makeup! Those gold pieces!) they still follow the same base concept: mashing together human and animal features to make something that’ll creep out most people.
Baphomet in SMT (by Kazuma Kaneko)
Baphomet’s an older demon than Adramelech, so he isn’t quite as fancy. He was very important to witches, and was worshipped by them. In this sense, I guess he can be seen as somewhat of an anomaly amongst demons, as he was legitimately worshipped by people instead of used as a deterrant to prevent people from sinning. I believe he was also worshipped by Knight Templars at some point, but am honestly too lazy to go and check.
Now, Baphomet has an impressive pair of ram horns above a goat’s head, leering red eyes, wings, a human torso (it’s hard to see, but he has breasts, as the creature does), human hands, and human-goat legs (they don’t appear to be digitigrade, but his feet still end in hooves). The ornament on his head is burning, a detail put in by Kaneko that’s missing in traditional depictions of Baphomet. On his crotch, partially obscured by a modest loincloth, is a caduceus, an object that is included in traditional depictions of Baphomet. I won’t doubt that the caduceus is meant to be phallic. The placement of that object, combined with his breasts results in an unsettling effect, as he combines both female and male parts along with parts from different animals.
Before I ramble on in purgatory for the next 10,000 years, I’ll end this post here.
But… if we consider this class to be an example of Protestantism, with Prof. Stuart at its helm, is there even Purgatory? I guess I’d end up in Hell for being a heretic, then.