|“||I am tired of waiting for you, boy. You've always worn your humanity too close. You cling to it even now.||„|
|~ Astaroth to Hellboy.|
|“||You can't have this sense of freedom. This life, without a doubt unburdened, is unique to itself. You are not unique. You are just one of billions. A 'cog in the machine', so to speak. Now let those words sink in. Let them sink until countless holes have burned through you.||„|
Astaroth is one of the highest-ranking demons, a Duke of Hell and is said to be the among the strongest. He is the patron of battles and engagements, eater of souls, the Father of the Executioners. Astaroth is also said to be one of the incarnations of death.
According to Judaic lore, he was a high-ranking angel, either one of the Seraphim or a prince of Thrones, prior to his fall. Astaroth is a Grand Duke, a Treasurer of Hell, and commands 40 Legions of demons. Astaroth also features as an archdemon associated with the Qliphoth according to later Kabbalistic texts.
Astaroth is perhaps one of the lesser threats to humanity so far as physical danger is concerned, though it appears that he is fond of manipulation and corruption that is intellectual in nature. Once the demon appears, his summoner should not stand too close, as Astaroth gives off a deadly stench. He willingly answers all questions regarding the past, present, and future and will give up easily any secrets that he knows.
He is depicted as a naked man with a dragon's hands, feet and wings, a secondary pair of angel's wings, wearing a crown, holding a serpent and riding a wolf. Although he is also portrayed as a woman riding a serpentine bat-like beast.
Texts that describe Astaroth depict him as a wretched angel. Other accounts mention Astaroth having horned wings and often note the gloomy nature of the being. He also appears as a serpent with a colored tail, two small feet, a chestnut neck, and spines similar to a hedgehog that can grow up to a finger’s length.
Fall from Heaven
Astaroth, like many of the fallen angels that fell from Heaven, was an angel that resided in Paradise and was a member of the Thrones. Due to his position as a Throne, he was highly ranked amongst the choir of angels as he would see to the carrying of God's throne. However, he found himself joining Lucifer's side during the War in Heaven, and was cast down to Hell alongside all other rebel-angels. He was present at Pandemonium during Lucifer's Rally, officially declaring himself as an enemy of God forever.
After Lucifer and his rebel brothers conquered Hell while newly establishing it as their own kingdom a hierarchy was formed during the process with Astaroth aiding in the decreeing of noble positions. Hell would ultimately be ruled by the three supreme monarchs known as the Satanic Triumvirate which consisted of Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Samael. These three would be above, and simultaneously be part of, the Seven Kings of Hell whom were the ruling body of the Inferno. Due to Astaroth's influence and power he would be closely affiliated with the Seven Great Kings and the Triumvirate as well to the point where demonologists counted him among their number.
The demon was said to instigate cases of demonic possessions, most notably that of the Loudun nuns in France in the 16th century. The nuns accused a priest, Father Urbain Grandier, of causing their possession. At Grandier’s trial, a handwritten “confession” of his was produced detailing his pact with the Devil, witnessed and signed by Astaroth and several other demons.
Astaroth, alongside Dagan and Mammon, also took care of Azazel's son, Hellboy. The two demons witnessed the birth of the cambion in Hell, and then cut of his right hand, and crafted on the enigmatic Right Hand of Doom in it's place. Astaroth believes that with this object, which is the key to the Outerverse, they can unleash and maybe even control the Yog-Sothoth, using the ancient deity in their war against God and Heaven. Though they were discovered by Mundus and most of Azazel's accomplices were discovered and imprisonment, Astaroth managed to avoid his fate.
He saw great potential in the power it represented if only Hellboy could be made to claim it. On May 12th, 1947, Astaroth was among the three demon lords to learn that a young Hellboy was becoming more assimilated to mortal life by eating pancakes. Astaroth commented that Hellboy would never want to come back to Hell. However, Astaroth believed he could still win Hellboy back to his heritage.
A year later, Astaroth learnt that Gremory had lured Hellboy from the safety of BPRD headquarters with the Midnight Circus in an elaborate scheme designed to kill the young child. Astaroth stepped in to stop Gremory, unmindful of her warning of the threat Hellboy would one day pose, as he forbade Gremory from making another attempt on Hellboy's life, so long as he still lived.
Box Full of Evil
Hellboy first knowingly encountered Astaroth during a BPRD mission with Abe Sapien in Scotland, when the sorcerer Igor Bromhead invoked the powers of Hell to protect him from Hellboy's wrath. Astaroth appeared on Earth and did so, but when Bromhead accidentally broke the talisman that protected him from Astaroth's power, he turned the lower half of the sorceror's body into that of a lizard. After Hellboy defeated the demon Valac, Astaroth seals Valac back in his prison to be taken back to Hell. When Hellboy refuses to take the removed Crown of the Apocalypse back, Astaroth tells Hellboy that he will keep it with him at Pandemonium until Hellboy is ready to reclaim it.
Darkness Calls and the Storm
In 2010, Astaroth saw in the fairy revolt of the Gruagach the chance to force Hellboy to claim his demonic heritage. Just as the rebellion seemed about to falter, Astaroth appeared to the Gruagach and provided the means to resurrect the Queen of Blood, a golden and bejeweled Ciborium containing the blood of every man, woman and child from a nearby murdered village. With Nimue resurrected, Astaroth had knowingly or otherwise set things on the path to Hellboy's eventual death.
He appeared to Hellboy later in the rebellion, showing him the true and horrifying extent of Nimue's forces and urging him to claim his birthright and raise the army of Hell to combat her. When Hellboy refused to do so even at this desperate hour, a disgusted Astaroth left him to his fate.
When word of Hellboy's death reached Hell, it started a panicked exodus from Pandemonium by Hell's aristocracy. As the only remaining Arch-Duke, Astaroth welcomed Hellboy back to his ancestral home. Having shown Hellboy the imprisoned Azzael and recounted the story of his own birth, Astaroth introduced Hellboy to his half-brothers Gamon and Lusk.
Having hoped that Hellboy's death would finally strip him of his humanity, Astaroth now realized his nephew was a lost cause and set his half-brothers on him. During the fight Astaroth decapitated Gamon when the younger demon blasphemed the memory of Azzael. At this Lusk realised the extent of Astaroth's ambition - that whomever managed to claim the power of Hellboy's right hand, Astaroth, as the power behind the throne, would be the true wielder.
As they argued, both demons were unexpectedly eaten by Leviathan, with whom Astaroth had had a long-standing grudge. Astaroth's death freed Hellboy from the burden of his right hand and the power it represented, as there was no longer anyone in Hell left who wanted it.
Astaroth is also known to be a great mentor to turn to if in need of assistance – especially if that assistance is needed to make important political or business connections. According to many legends, Astaroth serves as a council to both humans and demons – though he seems to have a preference towards human affairs. This is possibly because Astaroth seems to have a conscience when it comes to giving advice and does not want his wisdom to be associated with evil or ill intent.
Interestingly enough, although Astaroth is considered to be part of the evil trinity, he is only willing to give power to those who seek his help in order to accomplish good deeds. It is said that if anyone attempts to summon him for ill intentions, he will refuse to give them assistance. Additionally, many people claim that Astaroth will only appear to those who see him as the goddess Astarte. Anyone who doesn’t recognize her a goddess and tries to summon Astaroth in demon form is usually ignored, though there are a small amount of success stories.
Astaroth enjoys talking at length about the creation of the world, the Fall, and the faults of demons, taking great care to point out how he is being punished unjustly. When conjured in magical rites, which must be performed on Wednesday nights between 10:00 and 11:00, he will give true answers to questions about the past, present, and future. He discovers secrets and is skilled in liberal sciences. He encourages slothfulness and laziness.
Power and Abilities
According to some demonologists of the 16th century, August is the month during which this demon's attacks against man are stronger. According to Sebastien Michaelis, he is a demon of the First Hierarchy, who seduces by means of laziness, self-doubt, and rationalized philosophies.
He can seduce men through laziness and vanity, make men wise in mathematical sciences and handicrafts, reveal hidden treasures, make men invisible and give them power over serpents. Astaroth is summoned for his ability to grant friendships to great lords; a nocturnal demon, he is most powerful on Fridays between the tenth and the eleventh hour of the night.
He is sometimes referred to as the prince of accusers and inquisitors, with powers to rival that of the great demons Bael and Beelzebub. To others, he teaches mathematical sciences and handicrafts, can make men invisible and lead them to hidden treasures, and answers every question formulated to him. He was also said to give to mortal beings the power over serpents.
This demon is known for his foul smelling breath that is said to be fatal upon encounters. To protect oneself from Astaroth’s breath, it is said that a charmed ring made of pure silver can be used as protection. This ring must be held underneath the nose of the summoner to ensure that the individual will remain protected for the entire interaction with Astaroth. Failure to do this will result in death.
Myth and Legends
Astaroth is often depicted as one of the demons that serves as the ‘Great Duke of Hell’ though there is some debate over if he is a demon or was simply brought into existence as a demon when the modern religions of this world rose to power.
Because of the debate over the origins of Astaroth, there are several different variations of who he (or she) is in their true form. Most versions of the dominant religions claim that Astaroth has always been a demon. Their explanation for the appearance of the creature in modern day is simply that as a deceiver, Astaroth took the form of the goddess Astarte in order to gain favor among people. He is said to commonly try to win people over through laziness and the manipulation of logic.
There are, however, other religions that see Astaroth as a helpful demon that is not necessarily benevolent, but is also not evil.