On Fiery Devils

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy: 

“Fiery spirits or devils are such as commonly work by blazing stars, fire-drakes, or ignes fatui; which lead men often in flumina aut praecipitia [to the rivers or the cliffs], saith Bodine, lib. 2. Theat. Naturae, fol. 221. Quos inquit arcere si volunt viatores, clara voce Deum appellare aut pronam facie terram contingente adorare oportet, et hoc amuletum majoribus nostris acceptum ferre debemus, &c., (whom if travellers wish to keep off they must pronounce the name of God with a clear voice, or adore him with their faces in contact with the ground, &c.); likewise they counterfeit suns and moons, stars oftentimes, and sit on ship masts: In navigiorum summitatibus visuntur; and are called dioscuri, as Eusebius l. contra Philosophos, c. xlviii. informeth us, out of the authority of Zenophanes; or little clouds, ad motum nescio quem volantes; which never appear, saith Cardan, but they signify some mischief or other to come unto men, though some again will have them to pretend good, and victory to that side they come towards in sea fights, St. Elmo’s fires they commonly call them, and they do likely appear after a sea storm; Radzivilius, the Polonian duke, calls this apparition, Sancti Germani sidus; and saith moreover that he saw the same after in a storm, as he was sailing, 1582, from Alexandria to Rhodes. Our stories are full of such apparitions in all kinds. Some think they keep their residence in that Hecla, a mountain in Iceland, Aetna in Sicily, Lipari, Vesuvius, &c. These devils were worshipped heretofore by that superstitious Pyromanteia and the like.”

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