Woodcut showing a Renaissance magician standing in a magic circle holding a staff in his left hand and a book in his right. On the wall is a cross and a black, scaly, winged devil is on the floor in front of him.

How to conjure the Devil in an Early Modern Theatre

A magician with a staff in once hand and a book of magic in the other (as well as a damn fine pair of mustachios) faces off a grinning bearded figure with wings, tail and scaly skin. It’s the woodcut illustration from Christopher Marlowe’s 1616 edition of Doctor Faustus. But the devil doesn’t spend the whole play as this dragon-like figure. At the request of Faustus, the demon Mephistopheles changes into the likeness of an old Franciscan friar.

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