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demon, Tasso, Spenser


The term "demon" has embraced a variety of meanings over the centuries, and, while it can include the notion of one's own inner genius, or of a sprite midway between the gods and men, it is usually construed as an evil spirit, as Augustine said long ago:

... there is scarcely a man, no matter how well read and learned, whoo would dare say by way of praise to his slave, You have a demon, or who could doubt that the man to whom he said this would consider it a curse? Why, then, are we to subject ourselves to the necessity of explaining away what we have said when we have given offence by using the word demon, with which every one, or almost every one, connects a bad meaning, while we can so easily evade this necessity by using the word angel?