How the Devil Got His Horns: A Diabolical Tale

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How the Devil Got His Horns: A Diabolical Tale


Art historian Alastair Sooke is on a diabolical quest but at first finds no trace of the horned Satan with swinging tail and sulphourous whiff. The earliest existing Lucifer, in a sixth-century church in Ravenna, northern Italy, looks more like a beatific blue angel.

Five centuries later, Beelzebub makes a second appearance in Venice: still blue but this time with flowing locks and squiffy eyes. This fascinating film then reveals how the artists of the Middle Ages turned to fun-loving pagan gods for inspiration. Soon Old Nick was getting up to all sorts. Often, as Sooke points out with a glint in his eye, more porno than inferno.


Art historian Alastair Sooke reveals how the Devil's image was created by artists in the Middle Ages. He explores how visual interpretations of Satan evolved between the birth of Christ and the Renaissance, and how he was depicted in an array of different guises, including tempter, tyrant and rebellious angel.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Alastair Sooke
Director Dominic Gallagher
Executive Producer Ross Harper
Producer Dominic Gallagher