Tag Archives: Europe

Sympathy for the Devil

8108499268_580a47c21e_zA good story has always had the power to evoke imagination in the mind of the reader – but nowhere more so than in Europe – where we can see evidence of that power everywhere.

For example:  Casa de Pilatos, Seville; Lago di Pilato in the Marche of Italy ; The Pilat regional nature park near Lyon; The Tomb of Pilate (a Roman pyramid) in Vienne and particularly Mount Pilatus in central Switzerland.

It is possible that Mt Pilatus got its name from “Mons Pileatus” or “cloud-covered” according to early traveller John Ruskin. But the more frequently  cited meaning of the name refers to the Roman procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate,who presided at the trial of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.

It is said that, following his death (possibly by suicide, although there are those that have other theories),the body of Pilate was thrown into the Tiber, thrown into the Rhône, into Lake Geneva near Lausanne or ultimately carried by bearers who, panicked by thunder and lightning, threw the remains into a glacier pool on the mountain which also bears his name.

Climbing the mountain itself was forbidden until 1400 when bishops led a procession from local communities to perform acts of exorcism and purification. It is still believed, however, that every Good Friday a shadow appears from the waters and washes its hands….

These and other legends provided fascination for countless European artists and writers: Anatole France in  “Le Procurateur de Judee” , Nikos Kazantzakis in ” The Last Temptation of Christ”  or perhaps most memorably ” The Master and Margarita” by Stalin-period Russian great Mikhail Bulgakov.

This last book concerns a version of the trial of Jesus imagined by the Master in which Yeshua (Jesus) states to Pilate that  “In fact I am beginning to fear  that this confusion will go on for a long time . And all because he writes down what I said incorrectly.”

Bulgakov’s tale intrigued Mick Jagger so much in the late 1960’s, that the Devil appeared in the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet disc on the track “Sympathy for the Devil”, where he  “made sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate”.

Some old stories never die but are recreated in our imagination.

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