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Literature / Ars Goetia

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The first section of the anonymously written 17th-century grimoire The Lesser Key of Solomon. It describes a group of 69-72 demons (depending on which edition you're working with) who were variously bound by Ham and Solomon to perform works on God's behalf, and now you, the lucky conjuror, can do the same. The Ars Goetia (or rather, the demons described) is/are frequently used in fiction. The grimoire itself is sometimes known as the Lemegeton and is a Stock Shout-Out for a Tome of Eldritch Lore. For some reason, the later portions of the Lesser Key, like the Ars Theurgia Goetia (conjuring neutral spirits of the winds) and Ars Paulina (conjuring lesser angels of the zodiac and the hours of the day), get much less screen time in general.

The book can be found translated here. For quick reference, here's the seventy-two demons as listed in the Lesser Key:

    The Usual Suspects 
Note: Due to the nature of having several different translations over the centuries, expect to see alternative spellings a lot.
  1. Baal/Bael/Baell
  2. Agares/Agreas
  3. Vassago
  4. Samigina/Gamigin/Gamigm
  5. Marbas/Barbas
  6. Valefor/Valefar/Malephar/Malaphar
  7. Amon/Aamon
  8. Barbatos
  9. Paimon/Paymon
  10. Buer
  11. Gusion/Gusoin/Gusoyn
  12. Sitri/Bitru
  13. Beleth/Bileth/Bilet/Byleth
  14. Leraie/Leraje/Loray/Oray/Leraikha
  15. Eligos/Abigor/Eligor
  16. Zepar
  17. Botis/Otis
  18. Bathin/Bathym/Mathim/Marthim
  19. Sallos/Zaebos/Saleos
  20. Purson/Pursan/Curson
  21. Marax/Morax/Foraii
  22. Ipos/Ipes/Ayperos/Ayporos
  23. Aim/Haborym/Aym/Haborim
  24. Naberius/Cerbere/Cerberus/Naberus/Nebiros
  25. Glasya-Labolas/Caacrinolaas/Caassimolar/Glassia-labolas
  26. Bune/Bim/Bime
  27. Ronove/Ronwe
  28. Berith/Beal/Bolfri/Beall/Berithi/Bolfry/Beale/Bofry
  29. Astaroth/Astarot/Ashtaroth
  30. Forneus
  31. Foras/Forcas
  32. Asmoday/Asmodeus/Asmodai/Asmodee/Chammadai/Sydonai/Sidonay
  33. Gaap/Tap
  34. Furfur
  35. Marchosias/Marchocias
  36. Stolas/Stolos
  37. Phenex/Phoenix/Pheynix
  38. Halphas/Malthous/Malthas/Malthus
  39. Malphas
  40. Raum/Raim
  41. Focalor/Forcalor/Furcalor
  42. Vepar/Separ/Vephar
  43. Sabnock/Sabnacke/Salmac/Savnok
  44. Shax/Scox/Chax/Shaz/Shass/Shan
  45. Vine/Vinea
  46. Bifrons/Bifrous/Bifrovs/Biphron
  47. Vual/Wall/Vuall/Uvall/Voval
  48. Haagenti
  49. Crocell/Procell/Crokel
  50. Furcas/Forcas/Forras
  51. Balam/Balan/Balaam
  52. Alloces/Alocer/Allocer/Alocas
  53. Camio/Caym/Caim
  54. Murmur/Murmus/Murmux
  55. Orobas/Orobos
  56. Gremory/Gomory/Gamori
  57. Ose/Oze/Oso/Voso
  58. Amy/Avnas
  59. Orias/Oriax
  60. Vapula/Naphula
  61. Zagan
  62. Valac/Volac/Valak/Valu/Valax/Ualac
  63. Andras
  64. Haures/Flavros/Flauros/Hauras/Havres
  65. Andrealphus
  66. Cimeies/Cimeries/Cimejes/Kimaris
  67. Amdusias/Amduscias/Amdukias
  68. Belial/Beliall
  69. Decarabia/Carabia
  70. Seere/Sear/Seir
  71. Dantalion
  72. Andromalius

On a side note, the earlier Pseudomonarchia Daemonum by Johann Weyer note  in 1583 lists only 69 demons. Vassago, Seere, Dantalion, and Andromalius are not listed, and another demon, Pruflas, is listed. Pruflas doesn't seem to appear anywhere else; given his description, he may have been conflated with the extremely similar Andras. Liber Officiorum Spirituum which Weyer gave as his source for Pseudomonarchia Daemonum has over 80,note  and in turn the even earlier Livre des Esperitz had only 47 while notably only describing the demons and their place in the hierarchy of hell, with no actual magic instructions.

See this subpage for a list of references to Goetian demons in other works. And if you're looking for the fanfiction of the same name, you can find it here.

NOTE: Given how often they pop up outside of the lists, especially in sources that predate the lists, please limit tropes concerning Belial, Asmodeus (also known as Asmoday), Bael, Astaroth, or Berith (as in Baal-Berith) to material specifically present in the Ars Goetia.

Common Ars Goetia tropes

  • Aerith and Bob: Andrealphus, Oriax, Decarabia, Valefor, and Amy and Andras.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: A lot of the stranger-looking Goetics will eventually adopt human shape.
  • Ascended Demon: Some of the demons have aspirations of redemption, specifically Marchosias, Amy, Focalor, and Phenex. Unfortunately, it seems they are "deceived in that hope"... they told Solomon that they hoped to return to the Seventh Throne (Heaven or God or both) in 1,000 or 1,200 years or so. It's been 3,000 years since Solomon was alive. So they hoped for returning to the Seventh Throne 2,000 or 1,800 years ago. A bit of Fridge Brilliance there for our Christian viewers.
  • The Beastmaster:
  • Combo Platter Powers: Some demons have skillsets that have no connection to each other; for example, the demon Furfur is capable of both conjuring storms, telling true answers, and making people fall in love with the summoner.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A few of the demons seem to be harmless, or even good-hearted. For example, Orobas is said to be an honest demon who never tells a lie. He also protects his conjuror from evil spirits; more specifically, he makes sure they can't tempt him. Sallos is said to have a generally peaceful nature, and specializes in setting up lovers. Andromalius specializes in preventing and punishing theft. Of course, you still have singularly nasty demons in there (Andras not only specializes in fomenting strife and discord, he's one of the few specifically stated to, if there's even a small flaw in his summoning confinement, kill the conjuror and all his associates...)

    It's also worth noting that although we're... well... talking DEMONS here, the conjuror is actually instructed to call upon God and appeal to His authority (which is still binding on the demons, whether they like it or not) in order to get the particular demon to obey the call and evocation. In other words, the idea is that you're using unholy implements (demons) for (allegedly) acceptable-to-God means (although how anyone would call what some of these characters, like Sitri, Andras, and Beleth, do "holy" is kind of difficult to tell).
  • Deal with the Devil: Well, if the above point about using God to get these guys to obey one is anything to go by, one doesn't have the usual soul-price to put up with here, at least as long as the power isn't abused to malevolent and perdition-worthy ends (although, as also mentioned, a few, like Leraje and Andras, will only perform malign deeds). One needs to be careful in any case, though; Andras will be trying to kill the conjuror and every one of his associates, Valefor will try to get his conjuror to commit and be caught for a capital crime, and Malphas has a bad habit of reneging on promises secured by a sacrifice on the part of the conjuror.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Many of the demons claim to be kings, princes, or dukes of Hell. Possibly the Trope Codifier.
  • Depending on the Artist: Visual depictions for some demons can vary from their written descriptions. For example, Stolas is depicted as a long-legged owl, but his description describes him as appearing as a raven instead.
  • Depending on the Author: Some written descriptions can vary. For example, Ipos is only described as dirty in the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, but not the Lesser Key of Solomon.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Agares can cause earthquakes.
  • Driven to Madness: Some grimoires suggest that Ose doesn't actually transfigure his victims, but merely warps their minds to the point that they genuinely think they're something else entirely. The others claim both.
  • Enfant Terrible: Volac. Volac himself looks like an angel-winged child. Fair enough. His steed? A two-headed dragon.
  • Evil Counterpart: Some occult traditions consider the Goetic demons, at least when there are 72 and not 69, to be this to the angels who bear the Shem ha-Mephorasch (the hidden name of God). There's even the claim that the Goetics' seals are actually some sort of reverse spelling of each associated angel's name.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: While no demon at all should be taken lightly, Phenex, Malphas and Andras are especially nasty to would-be conjurors who screw up trying to bind them — and in the case of Andras, fatal. Valefor, meanwhile, is troublesome post-binding (see Treacherous Advisor).
  • Evil Sounds Deep: This may be the idea behind a fair number of the Goetics being described as having a hoarse voice.
  • Fake Memories: Besides Ose's gimmick (Forced Transformation) Dantalion can reveal a person's thoughts to a conjuror, then change those memories. It does not help that he's one of the bevy of Goetics skilled in impelling love....
  • Familiar: Many, many Goetics have the explicit ability to grant familiars to conjurors. This is also Valefor's sole recorded ability... perhaps because rather than giving you a familiar, he is the familiar.
  • Feathered Fiend: Quite literally, given that several demons have bird forms. We've got storks (Shax, Halphas), owls (Stolas, Andras), crows (Malphas, Raum), cranes (Naberius), peacocks (Andrealphus), and thrushes (Camio). Oh, and the phoenix (Phenex).
  • Forced Transformation: Pray that a conjuror doesn't decide he's mad enough with you to send Ose after you. Not only do you get shapeshifted, you start thinking that you've always been the thing or being Ose just turned you into. Andrealphus, Oriax, and Marbas can do this, too, but they won't throw in the Fake Memories as well (and Andrealphus is limited to turning people into birds).
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Part of the basic instructions given is to make sure the demons don't appear in forms likely to induce this. If you have read the Book of Ezekiel (and keep in mind that the angels aren't hostile to him), you'll know why.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: To modern eyes, it can look rather strange that the conjuror is typically referred to as an "exorcist"—a term usually associated with banishing demons. This works because "exorcise" is derived from the Latin for "compel to adhere to an oath"; "conjure" comes from a similar term. That's how exorcising fiends out of someone was supposed to work—force the possessors to adhere to God's laws (like the one forbidding torment of humans) for once, Or Else. No real difference in mechanism when you were instead adjuring/conjuring/exorcising them to be your day laborer.
  • Hellish Horse: Samigina and Orobas both manifest as horses (even if Orobas, going by what he's willing to do for the conjuror, doesn't seem to be particularly hellish in the first place), and Amdusias as a unicorn.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: A few of the demons owe their demonhood to the medieval Christian conceit that gods other than the Hebrew one were merely demons masquerading as divine beings and trying to steal glory and honor that only God should have received. Bifrons (literally "two faces") is another name for Janus, the Roman god of gates. Berith comes from Baal-Berith, patron of a city at odds with early Jerusalem. Phenex is obviously a phoenix, which is usually considered a good creature in mythology. Astaroth's name is based on Astarte. Amon is iffy — while he seems to be named for the Egyptian deity, that his name is occasionally spelled Ammon may connect him to the Ammonites, one of the Hebrews' perennial enemies. You can also find a few claims on the Internet that Oriax is the same as Osiris, and Purson the same as Horus, from Egyptian Mythology.
  • Hypnotize the Captive: A lot of the Goetic crew have the ability to incite love between men and women. One has to wonder if anybody trusted the conjurors to not try to use this trick to get themselves a desired bedmate with no strings attached... Sitri is especially explicit about this. Not only can he pull this stunt, he can make them disrobe and degrade themselves. Instant Wild Teen Party, of that sort... or porn... or blackmail material. Beleth's entry, meanwhile, is very explicit about the not-so-romantic side of this; "This Great King Beleth causeth all the love that may be, both of Men and of Women, until the Master Exorcist hath had his desire fulfilled."
  • Invisibility: Bael, Glasya-Labolas, Balam, Forneus and Foras have the ability to grant this. For some reason, this typically comes bundled with eloquence and sharp-mindedness.
  • Love Goddess: Many demons can become this, Beleth, Sitri, Zepar, Gremory & Furfur. Just to name a few. See Hypnotize the Captive above.
  • Making a Splash: Focalor's specialty is to rip up warships with his control over the seas and winds, although he'll take care not to kill any specific creature the conjuror forbids him to. Vepar and Crocell also have abilities related to water—Vepar guides the warships (fear the conjuror who's commanding both her and Focalor), and Crocell can sniff out water sources.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Several Goetics appeared as animals with traits belonging to some other beast. Zagan and Haagenti were bulls with eagle wi... fine, gryphon wings... Valefor a lion with a donkey's head, Marchosias a gryphon-winged, snake-tailed she-wolf, etc. Ipos may get the prize for oddest-looking Goetic in this respect: angel with lion's head, goose's feet, and hare's tail. The Dictionnaire Infernal supplies an even odder possible form: lion with goose's head and feet and hare's tail.
  • Multiple Head Case: Some of the demons (e.g. Bune, Aim, Asmoday, in some lists Bael) have three heads, one human and two animal, presumably an implication of their perversion of angelhood by containing an equally chimeric trinity or else an implication that they were of Cherub rank when they were angels, since Cherubim also have multiple heads/faces — three animal heads, and one human head. And then there's Naberius, aka Cerberus.
  • No Indoor Voice: Paimon is said to "speak in a booming voice" when first summoned, until the conjuror compels him. Alloces isn't an improvement; his voice is "hoarse and very big" (well, he does have a lion's head...), and unlike Paimon, the conjuror can't undo this.
  • Odd Name Out: Furcas is the only demon with the rank of "Knight".
  • Our Demons Are Different: Given that many Goetian demons are Mix-and-Match Critters, expect to see some weird ones.
  • The Pig-Pen: Ipos is noted to be, despite having an angel's body, extremely dark with filth.
  • Plaguemaster: Leraje: Guarantees that any of your archers' arrows that don't kill the targets outright will turn the wounds putrescent. Vepar and Sabnock: Arrange for enemies' wounds to become maggot-ridden. Marbas: General bringer of disease. This is pretty scary in conjunction with his Forced Transformation ability; what happens if the conjuror instructs him to transfigure the pathogen? On the other hand, this could be quite a con. Step 1: Have Marbas cause disease. Step 2: Sell snake oil for curing the disease. Step 3: Have Marbas turn the disease into a different one with a delayed incubation (thus "removing" the first one). Step 4: Return to Step 2.
  • Playing with Fire: Haures can use fire to kill his conjuror's foes, while Furcas will teach the conjuror how to use fire to discern the future, and Aim favors just setting whole cities and castles on fire. Amy doesn't grant anything particularly related to fire, but manifests as a great mass of flame.
  • Rank Inflation: Several of the demons are given multiple ranks. Not across several grimoires, but in the same grimoire. To wit: President & Count/Earl Botis (17), President & Count/Earl Marax (21), Prince/Prelate & Count/Earl Ipos (22), President & Count/Earl Glasya-Labolas (25), Marquis and Count/Earl Ronove (27), President & Prince/Prelate Gaap (33), King & Count/Earl Vine (45), Duke & Count/Earl Murmur (54), and King & President Zagan (61). And while he's "just" a marquis in the Lesser Key, the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum describes Decarabia as instead being both King & Earl. Basically, ranks are: King (Gold), Marquis (Silver), President (Mercury), Duke (Copper), Count/Earl (Iron), Prince/Prelate (Tin), and Knight (Lead). Or could be listed as: King (Sunday), Marquis (Monday), Count/Earl (Tuesday), President (Wednesday), Prince/Prelate (Thursday), Duke (Friday), and Knight (Saturday). Real Life rankings of nobility would go King, Duke, Prince/Prelate, Marquis, Count/Earl, and Knight.

    "President", in this case, would refer to one who presides over a college or convocation. Also, at the time, "prince" just meant someone who ruled over something, like the princes of Italian petty city-states. In addition, marquises had a pretty unique duty from dukes; the term comes from "march", used for a province bordering another country, which didn't always describe duchies, and never described counties. In other words, marquises were specially tasked to be the first line of defense against invaders. In this context, Goetic marquises might "protect" deceived/corrupted souls from "invading" divine redemption.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: A pretty fair number of these guys are associated with snakes (no surprise, given one of the usual alleged guises of Satan) in some fashion, whether holding snakes, riding snakes, having a snake tail, or in Botis's case, being a snake. In addition, Agares, Vassago,and Sallos all ride crocodiles, and Volac and Astaroth ride dragons. And finally, except for his heads, Bune is a dragon.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Part of the binding procedure that Solomon used was trapping the demons inside an elaborate vessel of brass, which he could pull them out of at will to perform this or that deed. Once he'd gotten all the work he needed out of them, he cast the full vessel into a great lake in the Babylonian Empire, expecting them to stay stuck until the end of time. Too bad the Babylonians who later found it mistook it for an ordinary treasure cache and opened it, getting nothing for their troubles except Belial impersonating one of their gods...
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Amon has been associated with Wrath, and Asmoday with Lust.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Marchosias (a she-wolf, at least according to the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum and Dictionnaire Infernal), Vepar (a mermaid) and Gremory (a woman riding a camel) are the only female demons. Though given that they are fallen angels and a good chunk are shapeshifters, male/female may be a formality rather than an indication of (normally) possessing any genitalia. It doesn't help that, even with Gremory, the most obviously female of the lot, the texts always use male pronouns.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Barbatos and Camio can grant a summoner the ability to understand and speak the languages of animals.
  • Starfish Language: Apparently, Camio uses burning coals to communicate. The text doesn't give specifics. Somewhat appropriately, he has the power to let conjurors understand the speech of animals... and the speech of ocean waves....
  • Teleportation: One of Bathin's power is to instantly transport people from one country to another.
  • Treacherous Advisor: While Valefor does make for a good Familiar, you should probably not listen to his temptations to become a robber — he's basically trying to get you to commit Demon Assisted Suicide By State.
  • Weather Manipulation: Furfur can create storms, thunder, and lightning.