*Late Latin, probably of Oriental origin but influenced by Latin daemon
plus Gorgo "Gorgon". (WNWD2nd) Webster's New World
2nd College edition, 1986.
* Late Latin Demogorgon from the Greek for people plus grim, terrible,
whence Gorgon, but of uncertain origin. The idea of Demogorgon being a
corrupted form of demiurge is highly doubtful. Medieval writers
it with "demon" meaning either "terror to demons" or "terrible demon".
From its connection with magic, it may be a disguised form of an
name. The Oxford English Dictionary Vol. III D-E. Reprint
1961, 1933 first ed..
*Late Latin Demogorgo, from Greek daimon "demon" plus
Demogorgon was the name of an ancient deity, a
creator god, who was known previous to the gods of Greek mythology,
of Oriental origin. He is also referred to as a spirit and as a demon,
never as a mortal being. The Greeks passed the story to the Romans
was recorded by the monks, so the story shifted with each re-telling,
even in Medieval writings he is referred to as a primeval creator. All
other gods are said to have come from him. He is sometimes said to have
commanded the spirits of the Netherworld, or to have been of the
himself. He is also said to have lived in the Himalayas, and every five
years required an accounting from his subjects of the spirit world
their stewardship of the world. He inspired awe and even fear, and was
part of alchemical and probably other rites. Whether he was evil or
is not agreed.
His name was not to be spoken, and some feared that
the speaking would cause catastrophe and death.
In the 4th century around 450 AD, a Christian
a Scholiast, Lactantius or Lutatius Placidus, broke with tradition by
writing the name down in Statius's Theb.IV.516. He wrote it as
name of the great nether deity invoked in magic rites.
Lucan's Pharsalia VI.742 is a slightly later
reference, in which Rowe (a Scholiast:), describing the Demogorgon,
"Must I call your master to my aid,
A Byzantine going by the alias of Pronapides, Athenian
that all gods are descended from Demogorgon.
At whose dread name the trembling Furies quake,
Hell stands abashed, and earth's foundations shake?"
Theodontius wrote between the 9th and 11th
probably a philosopher of Campanian origin. He picked up the belief
that all gods were descendents of Demogorgon from Pronapides.
also came up with a very mixed traditon including the Olympic pantheon,
syncrestic mythology, cosmogonic speculations of Greek philosophers,
comments from a Greek historian of the 4th century BC (probably
with a typo making the BC).
Conrad de Mure's Repertorium in 1273 AD
Demogorgon as the primordial god of ancient mythology.
This same descriptions as in the Repertorium
and in Theodontius's writings are in Boccaccio's Geneology Deorum
(Geneology of the Gods), which appears to be the source of the word in
the "modern' literature of Ariosto, Spenser, Marlowe, Dryden, Milton,
Giraldi, Chapman, Burton, and others. He started the work in the middle
of the 14th century and spent his last twenty-five years of life on it.
It was done at the request of Hugues IV, King of Cyprus. Boccaccio
up the name from Theodontius, but with a grammatical error. Demogorgon
is presented as founder of the whole race of gods, but is unheard of by
classical antiquity. Seznec says, "Demogorgon is a grammatical error,
Quotes mentioning the Demogorgon's supposed traits
1590 Spenser Faerie Queen.IV.22: "O thou
(Night) most auncient Grandmother of all... Which wast begot in
Faerie Queen, continued: IV,ii,47: says that
the Demogorgon dwells "down in the bottom of the deep abyss with the
1667 Milton P.L.Paradise Lost.II.965, 966:
"And by them stood Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name of Demogorgon."
Ariosto: "Demogorgon was king of the elves and fays
who lived on the Himalayas, and once in five years summoned all his
before him to give an account of their stewardship."
1681 Dryden Sp.Friar.V: "He's the first
of Beelzebub, with a face as terrible as Demogorgon."
1705 Purshall Mech. Macrocosm 85: "The
and sulphurous vapors, I take to be the true Demogorgon of the
or grandfather of all the heathen gods, i.e. metals."
1821 Shelley Prometheus Unbound I.207: "All
the powers of nameless worlds...and Demogorgon, a tremendous gloom."
Demogorgon appears as the eternal principle that ousts false gods.
1850 Keightley Fairy Mythol. 452: "According
to Ariosto, Demogorgon has a splendid temple palace in the Himalaya
whither every fifth year the Fates are all summoned to appear before
and give an acount of their actions."
Dryden The Flower and the Leaf, 493: he
as "cruel Demogorgon".
Popular in literature, poetry, magic, and
Demogorgon is also depicted in a number of paintings as mixed as the
One artist showed Demogorgon as an old man in his cavern along with
characters including Greek and Assyrian.
Webster's New World Dictionary 2nd College edition, 1986
The Oxford English Dictionary Vol. III D-E. Reprint 1961
Webster's New 20th Century Dictionary Unabridged 2nd edition,
Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition, 1993
Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. 1970.
The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College edition. 1982
The Random House Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged.
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. ed Ivor H. Evans.
& Row, pub. 1981
The Survival of the Pagan Gods. Seznec.