There are satan/devil representations in other faiths/myths.

But who was the first to have a role and background similar to Satan?

Since religions sometimes take over traits of the old ones there must be originator satan in the beginnings of written mythology.

The answer could be from multiple cultures from different parts of the world, or just one.

Preferably male but if there is a female version (or a genderless version) who was earlier than the male version that would be the most acceptable answer.

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    There we could use a community answer with timeline comparisons from all the religions where we can find a Satan-like creature – Calaom Jan 30 at 7:58
  • @Calaom I am going for DukeZhou's answer but would love it if both your answers would appear on the community wiki. – Tom Feb 13 at 10:50
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    Okay @Tom, I open my answer to community wiki, just hope that people won't change completely its original form – Calaom Feb 13 at 14:00
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    @Calaom If hope the people here will be respectful. It's a well written piece. – Tom Feb 13 at 19:08

This is a complex question, and entire books have been written on it. The modern conception of Satan is a mixture of qualities arising from paganism (horns, etc.) but the conception of Satan as evil in the Christian sense almost certainly arises from Zoroastrianism in the form of Ahriman.

To unpack this, consider Hades Diis. Lord of the underworld, yes. Feared because humans fear death, yes. But not evil in the Christian absolute sense. (Zeus and Hades could be interchangeable, for instance in the parentage of Melinoë. One of Hades' epithets in this tradition is Eubuleus, the "wise counselor", which was also an epithet of Zeus.)

Where Lucifer is like Hades is in coming down from heaven to rule the netherworld, underground. Cronus cast into Tartarus is an earlier form. (The modern conception of Hell comes chiefly from two sources, and Dante's Inferno, and the Greek Hades, in that Dante was heavily influenced by Classical Mythology--his underworld even has a City of Dis. Hades is the most common term for hell in the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek.)

Horns come partly out of the Greek tradition of with Dionysus/Bacchus, whose revels would certainly have been seen as evil in the Christian sense (although they still survive in celebrations like Carvival;) Horns & hooves are a feature of Pan, from whose name we derive the word panic--like the Devil with his fiddle, Pan is a musician.

But Dionysus/Zagreus, as dying/resurrected god is a Christ analog, and Hades is certainly not the adversary of the Lord of Heaven, Zeus.

The formal concept of Satan as "the Adversary" (שָּׂטָן) is found in the old Testament, although here the entity is adversary to man, not to the omnipotent Hebrew God. But the Hebraic conception is believed to derive from the earlier Zoroastrian, where Ahriman (Aŋra Mainiiu "absolute antithesis") is the direct adversary of Ahura Mazda, the sole and all-powerful creator god.

Zoroastrianism may date back to the second millennium BCE, but we only have documents going back to the 5th century BCE.

An even earlier form would be the Levantine Ba'al, who was horned, but started out as a fertility deity as opposed to an embodiment of evil. Here, via the Hebraic tradition, Baal becomes a generic reference to a false god, and eventually becomes Beelzebub (Ba'al Zəbûb)

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    I am very interested in more detail! – Tom Feb 3 at 18:09
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    @Tom Updated. :) – DukeZhou Feb 13 at 1:11

As @Codosaur Pointed out, Satan is a character that rises up against the supreme deity of the mythology. I would add that in the Christian rligion, he comes by many names I'll start a list here and we'll try to explain some of their signification:

  • Lord of the underworld / Lord of Hell / Lord of this World: Satan is supposed to rule over hell, so the afterlife of the "bad guys", he was put in this role after rebelling against God, it doesn't mean he wants to do it as the Lucifer TV-shows (That I advise you to watch)
  • Lucifer / The Morning Star: {Latin} Often portrayed as a beautiful archangel and the bringer of light, the illuminator
  • Mephistopheles: {German} Which Etymology seems to come from: "scatterer, disperser", "plasterer of lies", "light", "philis" meaning "loving" maybe meaning "not-light-loving", it is seen as a parody of Lucifer but I'll mostly just remember it as Lucifer plus a touch of "scatterer of light".

After theses explanations about some of the names that are attributed to Satan, I want to point out the part where he is supposed to:

  • Rebel against the supreme God
  • Scatters the light
  • Be the ruler of the afterlife (Mostly the punishing part)

Prometheus, before 800BCE

The titan god of forethought and crafty counsel created the humans on Zeus order. He then tried to improve their life by all means. One of those means implied giving the fire to the humans, this can be seen as the bringer of light (1st point). Doing this angered Zeus, the supreme deity (2nd point).

The timeline here is this one, which states the first records 8th century BCE, thanks @DukeZhou for the correction:

Then I found out about the Japanese creation myth, where we can find two primordial gods:

Izanagi and Izanami, ~700BCE

Which share the characteristics of Satan that I described earlier mixed with those of a supreme God. They are the creator of everything (Japan), keep in mind the fire creating (1st point):

Izanagi and Izanami then created gods and goddesses of the trees, mountains, valleys, streams, winds, and other natural features of Japan. While giving birth to the fire god Kagutsuchi, Izanami was badly burned. As she lay dying, she produced more gods and goddesses. Other deities emerged from the tears of her grief-stricken husband.

Izanagi angered Izanami a bit after her death (2nd point) and after this episode Izanami became the ruler of the Underworld (3rd point):

When Izanami died, she went to Yomi-tsu Kuni, the land of darkness and death. Izanagi followed her there and tried to bring her back. But Izanami's body had already begun to decay, and she hid in the shadows and told Izanagi that she could not leave. Izanagi could not resist looking at his beloved wife one last time. When he lit a torch and saw her rotting corpse, he fled in terror. Angry that Izanagi had seen her, Izanami sent hideous spirits to chase him. Izanagi managed to escape, and he sealed off the passage to Yomi-tsu Kuni with a huge boulder. Izanami remained there and ruled over the dead.

On the Wikipedia page about this story, we can read that they are both infuriated against each other, so we can give all the credit of being the "Satan" of this religion to Izanami:

Izanagi burst through the entrance and quickly pushed a boulder to the entrance of Yomi. Izanami screamed from behind this barricade and told Izanagi that, if he left her, she would destroy 1,000 living people every day. He furiously replied that he would give life to 1,500.

For the period where those myth were created, I didn't find something more precise about the oral sharing(1, 2):

The myths of Japanese popular religion derive from oral traditions codified for posterity in two books: the Nihon Shoki, published in 720 CE and the Kojiki written by an official of the Empress Gemmyo between 708 and 714 CE. An additional source, the Kogoshui was written in c. 807 CE by Imibe-no-Hironari who collected together oral traditions omitted from the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki.

Community Wiki

If someone wants to add a contribution to this, try to keep the original format. I'm also open to its format improvement, based on suggestions.

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    This answer provides some useful context, but I'd caution you on the ~1800 BCE date for Prometheus. Although the oral tradition may be much older than the textual tradition, the first recorded stories of Prometheus come to use from the 8th Century BCE, via Hesiod. – DukeZhou Feb 1 at 18:31
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    Specifically, the ~1800 BCE reference from Cartwirght, Mark. "Greek Mythology". Ancient History Encyclopedia, is highly speculative, with no evidence as to the origin of Prometheus in the oral tradition from that timeframe. – DukeZhou Feb 1 at 18:34
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    @DukeZhou Thanks for pointing that out, updated the answer – Calaom Feb 4 at 8:07

I think "background" is going to exclude many mythologies with creatures having more or less the same role, if we include the notion of "rising up against the supreme deity of the mythology". Satan after all literally means "adversary" and this background is exclusive to Judeo-Christian mythology.

If we focus on role, probably the oldest example would be Egyptian mythology's Ammit.

  • Ammit is old indeed but is missing the background I was searching for. Still a great read! – Tom Feb 13 at 10:49

You need to understand the devil is a construct of religious persecution by Christianity. Hades, Lord of the Underworld, was at one time more widely worshipped than any god since. Early Christians demonized pagans with such imagery as evil. So literally, the first pagan demon was probably Lilith (as a snake representing Kronos). But The (horned one in hell) Devil was originally based on Hades and adapted in later imagery, by way of horns, to other representations of other pagan gods. Hope that helped?

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    What makes you think none Christians acted before and after any differently that Christians did? – Gibet Feb 1 at 15:41

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