(redirected from Mephistophilis)
Also found in: Dictionary.


see FaustFaust
, Faustus
, or Johann Faust
, fl. 16th cent., learned German doctor who traveled widely, performed magical feats, and died under mysterious circumstances.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(possibly of Greek origin:“hating the light,”from me,“not,” phos,“light,”and philos, loving; by another version, of Hebrew origin: mefits,“the destroyer,”and tofel,“a liar”) , the name of one of the spirits of evil, a demon, a devil; most often, according to legend, the name of the fallen angel Satan.

The folklore and fictional literature of various countries and peoples have frequently made use of the theme of a pact between a demon—a spirit of evil—and man. Sometimes poets have been drawn to the biblical story of the fall and expulsion from paradise of Satan and sometimes to his revolt against god (Milton, Byron, and M. lu. Lermontov). Not uncommon are farces, not far removed from folklore sources, in which the devil plays the role of an imp, a gay trickster who often falls into a trap. In a philosophical tragedy by Goethe, who reinterpreted motifs of a German folk legend, Mephistopheles is the tempter and antagonist of Faust. Pushkin made use of the figure of Mephistopheles. Mephistopheles is the Devil in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and T. Mann’s Doctor Faustus —the embodiment of moral nihilism. M. Bulgakov’s Woland is a Mephistophelian figure in The Master and Margarita; he and his retinue are grotesque spirits of evil who punish people for their vices. The image of Mephistopheles has also inspired painters (Delacroix and M. Vrubel’) and composers (Gounod, Berlioz, Liszt, A. G. Rubinstein).


Legenda o doktore Fauste. Edited by V. M. Zhirmunskii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
Lakshin, V. “Roman M. Bulgakova Master i Margarita.’”Novyi mir, 1968, no. 6.
Milner, M. Le Diable dans la littérature française, vols. 1-2. Paris, 1960.
Kretzenbacher, L. Teufelsbiindner und Faustgestalten im Abendlande. Klagenfurt, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


fiend to whom Faust sells his soul. [Ger. Lit.: Faust]
See: Devil


the cynical, malicious devil to whom Faust sells his soul. [Ger. Lit.: Faust, Payton, 436]
See: Evil
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Mephisto
a devil in medieval mythology and the one to whom Faust sold his soul in the Faust legend
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
In execution of the contract, Mephistophilis carries Faustus on a chariot ride through the heavens, landing him in Rome to tease the then Pope and thereupon to please his enemy, the then Emperor of Germany.
Mephistophilis (played by Jill McDonald) is not some two-dimensional tempter.
This production was ever-conscious of its own performativity, a self-awareness that was best displayed through Laura Cole, who, as Mephistophilis, played a variety of other roles.
And, worse still, without some sense of divine holiness how are students to conjure with the agonized impatience of the reply Mephistophilis makes to Faustus's literalistic question, "How comes it then that thou art out of hell?" You remember it: Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Faustus Jude Law Mephistophilis Richard McCabe Wagner Bohdan Poraj With: Tom Smith, Annette Badland, Ofo Uhiara, David Fielder.
"Mephistophilis in Maine: Rereading 'Skunk Hour.'" Robert Lowell: Essays on the Poetry.
Sometimes inert, sometimes swinging in a nervous frenzy the good and bad angels watched intently from their respective trapezes as Faustus gradually fell from grace to destruction while the Seven Deadly Sins, Helen Of Troy, and all the rest of the apparitions conjured up by Mephistophilis crossed menacingly in and out of the shadows.
One way of beginning to answer this question might be to reflect upon what happens after Doctor Faustus reduces Hell, so persuasively defined by Mephistophilis, to 'trifles and mere old wives' tales' (II.1.136).
On the one hand what Faustus does with the help of Mephistophilis can be quite foolish, diverting, or even, as in the case with the baiting of the Pope, satisfying for a Protestant audience keen to banish superstition; on the other, the least significant of his actions illustrates the evil power of the devil to 'turn everything upside down'.
(Mephistophilis is counted as Faustus's servant.) They 'adopt the posture of ego contra mundum'.
And by means of this image, the Christian (and largely Protestant) audience is reminded that God ("if any god," to quote Tamburlaine in part 2) is unknowable and that He can no more be at the beck and call of every person with a prayer than can Mephistophilis be thought to run errands for all the Robins of the world, no matter how many magic spells they know.
In act II, consulting magic books, Faustus conjures up Mephistophilis's, the first lieutenant of Lucifer, the archdemon.