This article on the history of the Devil suggests Dante was the first who portrayed Satan as ruler of hell:

The idea that the Devil governs hell may have come from the poem by Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, published in the early fourteenth century. In it, God created hell when he threw the Devil and his demons out of Heaven with such power they created an enormous hole in the center of the earth.

Is this correct? If so, did earlier writers place a different figure in the position?

2 Answers 2


I did some research on this bible website and couldn't find any text indicating Satan as the ruler of Hell indeed.

I found that another name that can be used for hell is the Abyss: Luke 8

30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

Where you can see that the demons don't want to go back (and internet gave it to me as a synonym).

When using this keyword instead, we can find that the "ruler" of this place is in fact Abbadon or Appollyon, the angel of the Abyss: Revelation 9

11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).

And we also can find that The-Devil aka Satan even ends up prisoner in this place:Revelation 20

1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

So no evidence in the bible (with the keywords I used) that Satan may have ruled over hell.

I don't think that this alone can be considered as an answer as I might have missed some points and that the bible is not the only source for Christianity beliefs. But At least it may avoid some hassle to people who want to look in this direction!

  • 3
    Searching for hades also brings great results in the older texts of the bible, but I could not find anything related either.
    – Tom Sol
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 15:42
  • 1
    The only thing we actually have ruling hell here seems to be this angel, Abbadon
    – Calaom
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 9:43
  • 1
    And since the question is flagged as Christianity, we need to find the first text post-bible telling Satan is the ruler of hell
    – Calaom
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 9:44
  • 1
    Searching the acts of Thomas might have some info but I do not have the time so I'm just putting it out there
    – Tom Sol
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 10:31

Why is Satan commonly believed to rule in hell?

Some believe Satan is a Seraphim and chief yof the sinning angels, is probably the highest of all the angels. There are some who think that Lucifer was highest only among the rebel angels in hell.

This answer will be based on the Catholic traditions in regards to Satan and the nine choirs of angels.

Although it is now generally accepted that there are nine choirs of angels and each choir is of angel is different and ranked accordingly.

During the Middle Ages, many schemes were proposed, some drawing on and expanding on Pseudo-Dionysius, others suggesting completely different classifications. According to medieval Christian theologians, the angels are organized into several orders, or "Angelic Choirs.

Pseudo-Dionysius (On the Celestial Hierarchy) and Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica) drew on passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, to develop a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs. Although both authors drew on the New Testament, the Biblical canon is relatively silent on the subject, and these hierarchies are considered less definitive than biblical material.

Choirs in medieval theology

St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica (1225–1274):

1.Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones;

2.Dominations, Virtues, and Powers;

3.Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. - Christian angelology (Wikipedia)

St. Thomas Aquinas' list is by far the most widely accepted list of angelic choirs and places the Seraphic order of angel as being at the highest level of angels followed by the Cherubim, and so on. According to St Thomas:

1.The angels that rebelled and became demons did not lose their nature or their connatural gifts. They cast away, by their sin, the grace in which they were created. They did not cast away the beatific vision, for they never had it. Now, if we think of angelic orders as orders of angels in glory, then, of course, there are no orders of bad angels. But if we consider angelic orders as order of angelic nature simply, there are orders among the demons.

2.Certainly, there is a precedence among bad angels; there is a subjection of some to others.

3.Demons of superior nature do not enlighten inferior demons; enlightenment here could only mean the manifestation of truth with reference to God, and the fallen angels have perversely and permanently turned away from God. But demons can speak to one another, that is, they can make known their thoughts to one another, that is, they can make known their thoughts to one another, for this ability belongs to the angelic nature which the demons retain.

4.The nearer creatures are to God the greater is their rule over other creatures. Therefore, the good angels rule and control the demons. - ORDERS AMONG THE FALLEN ANGELS

Thus stated it only makes sense that Satan was a Seraphim, for surely some of the Seraphim fell in great revolt against God. Although one can not say with certainty it is generally believed Satan was a Seraphim.


3.Lucifer who became Satan, leader of the fallen angels, wished to be as God. This prideful desire was not a wish to be equal to God, for Satan knew by his natural knowledge that equality of creature with creator is utterly impossible. Besides, no creature actually desires to destroy itself, even to become something greater. On this point man sometimes deceives himself by a trick of imagination; he imagines himself to be another and greater being, and yet it is himself that is somehow this other being. But an angel has no sense-faculty of imagination to abuse in this fashion. The angelic intellect, with its clear knowledge, makes such self-deception impossible. Lucifer knew that to be equal with God, he would have to be God, and he knew perfectly that this could not be. What he wanted was to be as God; he wished to be like God in a way not suited to his nature, such as to create things by his own power, or to achieve final beatitude without God's help, or to have command over others in a way proper to God alone.

4.Lucifer, chief of the sinning angels, was probably the highest of all the angels. But there are some who think that Lucifer was highest only among the rebel angels. - ANGELS: FROM THE TEACHINGS OF SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS

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