By which Devils are the Operations of Incubus and Succubus Practised?
Is it Catholic to affirm that the functions of Incubi and Succubi belong
indifferently and equally to all unclean spirits? And it seems that
it is so; for to affirm the opposite would be to maintain that there is some
good order among them. It is argued that just as in the computation of the
Good there are degrees and orders (see S. Augustine in his book on
the nature of the Good),
so also the computation of the Evil is based upon confusion. But as among
the good Angels nothing can be without order, so among the bad all is
disorder, and therefore they all indifferently follows these practices. See
Job x.: A land of darkness, as darkness
itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light
is as darkness.
Again, if they do not all indifferently follow these practices, this quality
in them comes either from their nature, or from sin, or from punishment. But
it does not come from their nature, since they are all without distinction
given to sin, as was set out in the preceding question. For they are by
nature impure spirits, yet not so unclean as to pejorate their good parts;
subtle in wickedness, eager to do harm, swollen with pride, etc. Therefore
these practices in them are due either to sin or to punishment. Then again,
where the sin is greater, there is the punishment greater; and the higher
angels sinned more greatly, therefore their punishment they have the more to
follow these filthy practices. If this is not so, another reason will be
given why they do not indifferently practise these things.
And again, it is argued that where there is no discipline or obedience,
there all work without distinction; and it is submitted that there is no
discipline or obedience among devils, and no agreement.
Proverbs xiii.: Among the proud there is
Again, just as because of sin they will all equally be case into Hell after
the Day of Judgement, so before that time they are detained in the lower
mists on account of the duties assigned to them. We do not read that there
is equality on account of emancipation, therefore neither is there equality
in the matter of duty and temptation.
But against this there is the first gloss on
I Corinthians xv: As long as the world
endures Angels are set over Angels, men over men, and devils over devils.
Also in Job xl
it speaks of the scales of Leviathan, which signify the members of the devil,
how one cleaves to another. Therefore there is among them diversity both of
order and of action.
Another question arises, whether or not the devils can be restrained by the
good Angels from pursuing these foul practices. It must be said that the
Angels to whose command the adverse Influences are subject are called
Powers, as S. Gregory says, and S. Augustine
(de Trinitate, 3). A rebellious and sinful
spirit of life is subject to an obedient, pious and just spirit of life.
And those Creatures which are more perfect and nearer to God have authority
over the others: for the whole order of preference is originally and in the
first place in God, and is shared by His creatures according as they approach
more nearly to Him. Therefore the good Angels, who are nearest to God on
account of their fruition in Him, which the devils lack, have preference
over the devils, and rule over them.
And when it is urged that devils work much harm without any medium, or that
they are not hindered because they are not subject to good Angels who might
prevent them; or that if they are so subject, then the evil that is done by
the subject is due to negligence on the part of the master, and there seems
to be some negligence among the good Angels: the answer is that the Angels
are ministers of the Divine wisdom. It follows then that, as the Divine
wisdom permits certain evil to be done by bad Angels or men, for the sake of
the good that He draws therefrom, so also the good Angels do not altogether
prevent wicked men or devils from doing evil.
Answer. It is Catholic to maintain that there is a certain order of
interior and exterior actions, and a degree of preference among devils.
Whence it follows that certain abominations are committed by the lowest
orders, from which the higher orders are precluded on account of the
nobility of their natures. And this is generally said to arise from a
threefold congruity, in that such things harmonize with their nature, with
the Divine wisdom, and with their own wickedness.
But more particularly as touching their nature. It is agreed that from the
beginning of Creation some were always by nature superior, since they differ
among themselves as to form; and no two Angels are alike in form. This
follows the more general opinion, which also agrees with the words of the
Philosophers. Dionysus also lays it down in his tenth chapter
On the Celestial Hierarchy
that in the same order there are three separate degrees; and we must agree
with this, since they are both immaterial and incorporeal. See also
S. Thomas (ii. 2).
For sin does not take away their nature, and the devils after the Fall did
not lose their natural gifts, as has been said before; and the operations
of things follow their natural conditions. Therefore both in nature and in
operation they are various and multiple.
This harmonizes also with the Divine wisdom; for that which is ordained is
ordained by God
And since devils were deputed by God for the temptation of men and the
punishment of the damned, therefore they work upon men from without by many
and various means.
It harmonizes also with their own wickedness. For since they are at war with
the human race, they fight in an orderly manner; for so they think to do
greater harm to men, and so they do. Whence it follows that they do not
share in an equal manner in their most unspeakable abominations.
And this is more specifically proved as follows. For since, as has been said,
the operation follows the nature of the thing, it follows also that those
whose natures are subordinate must in turn be subordinate to themselves in
operation, just as is the case in corporeal matters. For since the lower
bodies are by natural ordination below the celestial bodies, and their
actions and motions are subject to the actions and motions of the celestial
bodies; and since the devils, as has been said, differ among themselves in
natural order; therefore they also differ among themselves in their natural
actions, both extrinsic and instrinsic, and especially in the performance of
the abominations in question.
From which it is concluded that since the practice of these abominations is
for the most part foreign to the nobility of the angelic nature, so also in
human actions the foulest and beastliest acts are to be considered by
themselves, and not in relation to the duty of human nature and procreation.
Finally, since some are believed to have fallen from every order, it is not
unsuitable to maintain that those devils who fell from the lowest choir, and
even in that held the lowest rank, are deputed to and perform these and
Also it must be carefully noted that, though the Scripture speaks of Incubi
and Succubi lusting after women, yet nowhere do we read that Incubi and
Succubi fell into vices against nature. We do not speak only of sodomy, but
of any other sin whereby the act is wrongfully performed outside the
rightful channel. And the very great enormity of such as sin in this way is
shown by the fact that all devils equally, of whatsoever order, abominate
and think shame to commit such actions. And it seems that the gloss on
means this, where it says: I will give thee into the hands of the dwellers
in Palestine, that is devils, who shall blush at your iniquities, meaning
vices against nature. And the student will see what should be
authoritatively understood concerning devils. For no sin has God so often
punished by the shameful death of multitudes.
Indeed many say, and it is truly believed, that no one can unimperilled
persevere in the practice of such vices beyond the period of the mortal life
of Christ, which lasted for thirty-three years, unless he should be saved by
some special grace of the Redeemer. And this is proved by the fact that
there have often been ensnared by this vice octogenarians and centenarians,
who had up to that time ruled their lives according to the discipline of
Christ; and, having forsaken Him, they have found the very greatest
difficulty in obtaining deliverance, and in abandoning themselves to such
Moreover, the names of the devils indicate what order there is among them,
and what office is assigned to each. For though one and the same name, that
of devil, is generally used in Scripture because of their various qualities,
yet the Scriptures teach that One is set over these filthy actions, just as
certain other vices are subject to Another. For it is the practice of
Scripture and of speech to name every unclean spirit Diabolus, from Dia,
that is Two, and Bolus, that is Morsel; for he kills two thing, the body and
the soul. And this is in accordance with etymology, although in Greek
Diabolus means shut in Prison, which also is apt, since he is not
permitted to do as much harm as he wishes. Or Diabolus may mean Downflowing,
since he flowed down, that is, fell down, both specifically and locally. He
is also named Demon, that is, Cunning over Blood, since he thirsts for and
procures sin with a threefold knowledge, being powerful in the subtlety of
his nature, in his age-long experience, and in the revelation of the good
spirits. He is called also Belial, which means Without Yoke or Master; for
he can fight against him to whom he should be subject. He is called also
Beelzebub, which means Lord of Flies, that is, of the souls of sinners who
have left the true faith of Christ. Also Satan, that is, the Adversary; see
I S. Peter ii: For your adversary the devil
goeth about, etc. Also Behemoth, that is, Beast, because he makes men bestial.
But the very devil of Fornication, and the chief of that abomination, is
called Asmodeus, which means the Creature of Judgement: for because of this
kind of sin a terrible judgement was executed upon Sodom and the four other
cities. Similarly the devil of Pride is called Leviathan, which means Their
Addition; because when Lucifer tempted our first parents he promised them,
out of his pride, the addition of Divinity. Concerning him the Lord said
through Esaias: I shall visit it upon Leviathan, that old and tortuous
serpent. And the devil of Avarice and Riches is called Mammon, whom also
Christ mentions in the Gospel
(S. Matthew vi): Ye cannot serve God, etc.
To the arguments. First, that good can be found without evil, but
evil cannot be found without good; for it is poured upon a creature that is
good in itself. And therefore the devils, in so far as they have a good
nature, were ordained in the course of nature; and for their actions see
Secondly, it can be said that the devils deputed to work are not in
Hell, but in the lower mists. And they have here an order among themselves,
which they will not have in Hell. From which it may be said that all order
ceased among them, as touching the attainment of blessedness, at that time
when they fell irrecoverably from such rank. And it may be said that even in
Hell there will be among them a gradation of power, and of the affliction of
punishments, inasmuch as some, and not others, will be deputed to torment the
souls. But this gradation will come rather from God than from themselves, as
will also their torments.
Thirdly, when it is said that the higher devils, because they sinned
the more, are the more punished, and must therefore be the more bound to the
commission of these filthy acts, it is answered that sin bears relation to
punishment, and not to the act or operation of nature; and therefore it is
by reason of their nobility of nature that these are not given to such
filthiness, and it has nothing to do with their sin or punishment. And
though they are all impure spirits, and eager to do harm, yet one is more
so than another, in proportion as their natures are the further thrust into
Fourthly, it is said that there is agreement among devils, but of
wickedness rather than friendship, in that they hate mankind, and strive
their utmost against justice. For such agreement is found among the wicked,
that they band themselves together, and depute those whose talents seem
suitable to the pursuit of particular iniquities.
Fifthly, although imprisonment is equally decreed for all, now in the
lower atmosphere and afterwards in Hell, yet not therefore are equal
penalties and duties equally ordained for them: for the nobler they are in
nature and the more potent in office, the heavier is the torment to which
they are subjected. See
The powerful shall powerfully suffer torments.
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This chapter was transcribed by Wicasta Lovelace.
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