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The Destroyer

“It seemed to her that some destroyer was moving soundlessly through the country and the lights were dying at his touch”

Atlas Shrugged 

The orthodox destroyer, Satan, is forever cast as the scapegoat. Whatever character sketch we might propose, you will probably think us much the fool, for you’re apt to say we know him not at all; perhaps you are already much better acquainted.

“When she saw Ken Danagger in the courtroom today, she said that he was ready for the destroyer…”

—Eddie Willers

John Galt was similarly disinclined to accept his appointed place in the order of things; the difference being that where the Galtian destroyer set his sights on stopping the motor of the world, the original fallen angel has admitted a more ambiguous ambition: “…I would give away all this super stellar life, all the ranks and honors, simply to be transformed into the soul of a merchant’s wife weighing eighteen stone and set candles at God’s shrine.”  So possibly the Devil is a more complicated cipher than you had imagined, after all.

“She saw the man who had left, by his reflection on Ken Danagger’s face.”

Atlas Shrugged 

And godlike Danagger, most beautiful of men; Galt beheld him and caught him up to heaven, so beautiful was he…

According to the Talmud, Satan was once an archangel, but was cast out of heaven with one-third of the celestial host for refusing to do reverence to Adam. According to Atlas Shrugged, Galt was once an engineer for 20th Century Motors, but self-exiled rather than play into the madness of Gerald Starnes.

Daniel Defoe has provided us The Political History of the Devil (1726)

In legendary lore, the Destroyer is drawn with horns and tail, saucer eyes, and claws; but Milton portrays him more along the lines of Galt: a proud, selfish, ambitious chief, of gigantic size, with beautiful bearing, persuasive and commanding. Milton's destroyer declares his opinion that it is “better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.”, whereas Ayn's destroyer pledged to “…never live for the sake of another man…

Johan Wier's Praestigiis Daemonum (1564) places Beelzebub as the sovereign of Hell, and Satan leader of the opposition, holding the fifth rank of the nine demoniacal orders. Milton, however, promoted him to monarch of Hell.   His chief lords are Beelzebub, Moloch, Chemos, Tham'muz, Dagon, Rimmon and Belial (no mention of Galt). His standard-bearer is Azaz'el.

He, above the rest

Stood like a tower. His form had not yet lost

All her original brightness; nor appeared

Less than archangel ruined, and the excess

Of glory obscured … but his face

Deep scars of thunder had entrenched, and care

Sat on his faded cheek … cruel his eye, but cast

Signs of remorse.

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Beelzebub is called “prince of the devils” (Matthew XII 24) worshipped at Ekron, a city of the Philistines (2 Kings,

One next himself in power, and next in crime,

Long after known in Palestine, and named Beelzebub.

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Moloch, God of the Ammonites, his name being their word for “King”. He was placated with blood sacrifice to a brass idol with the head of a calf.

First Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with blood

Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears,

Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,

Their children's cries unheard, that passed thro' fire

To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite

Worshipped in Rabba.


—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Chemos (pronounced Ke'mos) god of the Moabites; also called Baal-Peör; the Priapus or idol of turpitude and obscenity. Solomon built a temple to this obscene idol “in the hill that is before Jerusalem” (1 Kings XI-7).

Next Chemos, the obscene dread of Moab's sons,

Peör his other name.

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Tammuz, God of the Syrians, and fifth in order of the hierarchy of Hell, after Chemos. Tammuz was slain by a wild board in Mount Lebanon, from whence the river Adonis descends, the water of which, at a certain season of the year, becomes reddened.

Tammuz came next behind,

Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured

The Syrian damsels to lament his fate

In amorous ditties all a summer's day;

While smooth Adonis from his native rock

Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood

Of Tammuz yearly wounded

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Dagon was half man and half fish. He was worshipped in the five chief cities of the Philistines: Ashdod, Gath, Ascalon, Ekron and Gaza. When the “ark” was placed in his temple, Dagon fell, and the palms of his hands were broken off.

Next came Dagon, Sea Monster

Upward man and downward fish.

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Rimmon seventh in order of the hierarchy of Hell, whose chief temple was at Damascus

Dagon followed Rimmon, whose delightful seat

Was fair Damascus on the fertile banks

Of Abana and Pharpar, lucid streams.

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Belial last or lowest in the hierarchy of Hell. Moloch was the fiercest of the infernal spirits, and Belial the most timorous and slothful. The lewd and profligate, disobedient and rebellious, are called in Scripture “Sons of Belial”. Ayn refers to them as “Second-handers”

Belial came last, than whom a spirit more lewd

Fell not from heaven, or more gross to love

Vice itself though…his tongue

Dropt manna, and could make the worse appear

The better reason…but to nobler deeds

Timorous and slothful

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Azazel was one of the ginn (or jinn), all of whom were made of smokeless fire, that is, the fire of Simoom. These jinn inhabited the earth before man was created, but on account of their persistent disobedience were driven from it by an army of angels. When Adam was created, and God commanded all to worship him, Azazel insolently made answer, “Me hast thou created of fire, and him of earth; why should I worship him!” Whereupon God changed the jinnee into a devil, and called him “Iblis”, or Despair. In Hell, he was made standard-bearer of Satan's host.

His mighty standard;

that proud honor claimed Azazel as his right.

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Adramelech was one among the fallen angels. .

Urield, and Raphael, his vaunting foe

Vanquish'd Adramelech, and Asmadai,

To potent Thrones, that to be less than gods

Disdain'd, but meaner thoughts learn'd in the flight

Mangled with ghastly wounds through plate and mail.

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

Robert Klopstock played Adramelech as surpassing Satan in malice and guile, ambition and mischief, hating every one, even Satan, of whose rank he is jealous, and hopes one day to overthrow.


Lucifer according to Dante, is a huge giant, with three faces: one red, indicative of anger, one yellow, indicative of envy; and one black, indicative of melancholy.  Between his shoulders, the poet says, there shot forth two enormous wings, without plumage, “in texture like a bat's.”  With these “he flapped i' the air … and Cocy'tus to its depth was frozen.” “At six eyes we wept,” and at every mouth he champed a sinner.  

—Dante, Hell   XXXIV (1301)

Satan Wounded

Him the Almighty Power

Hurl'd headling flaming from th' ethereal sky.

—Milton Paradise Lost (1665)

“Oh God, Floyd!” he screamed.

“Don’t kill him! Don’t dare kill him!”

—Wesley Mouch Atlas Shrugged (1957)



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