Beelzebub is introduced as “A Likewise Fallen Angel and Prince of Hell” (13) in the Dramatis Personae. He is briefly mentioned when a worried Crowley, trying to get his mind off misplacing the Antichrist, puts on a tape in the Bentley. The first line is from Queen‘s Bohemian Rhapsody, “Bee-elzebub has a devil put aside for me” (110), which only serves to rattle him further. Beelzebub does not actually appear until the final battle between Heaven and Hell, as Hell’s representative. His heavenly counterpart is Metatron, the Voice of God.
Beelzebub rises “from the churning ground in the manner of the demon king in a pantomime, but if this one was ever in a pantomime, it was one where no-one walked out alive and they had to get a priest to burn the place down afterwards” (349). Like the Metatron, he is made of flames, except instead of golden his are “blood-red” (349). Crowley refers to Beelzebub as “he”, but in the text “it” is always used, simultaneously referencing the sexless nature of angels and demons and the fact that Crowley has adopted more human views. Beelzebub’s voice is “like a million flies taking off in a hurry” (349), which feels “like a file dragged down the spine” to the humans hearing it, signified in the text by replacing most of his s’s with z’s. He also speaks with the same old-fashioned diction as the other demons, and the combination of the two is more humorous than frightening: “thou hazzt muzzch to tell me” (349).
Beelzebub’s personality, if he can be said to have one, is that of the ultimate representative of Hell. Faced with the nuances of Adam’s logic, he can only counter with absolutes; he mistakes Adam’s well-intentioned wishes for the world as a “wizzsh to rule the world” (350), and then argues that “some thingz are beyond rebellion” (351). The Great Plan, the war between Heaven and Hell, has to happen simply because “it izz written!” (352).
As Beelzebub departs to “seek further instructions” (353), Shadwell tries to shoot him and misses; he “never knew how lucky he had been that he’d missed” (353). Adam has managed to fend him off, but he is still a powerful and dangerous demon, being the Prince of Hell.
Crowley begins to introduce Beelzebub but is cut off at “he’s the Lord of–” (349). The Hebrew origin of the name, Baʽal zĕbhūbh, literally means lord of flies. In the Old Testament, Baalzebûb was the Philistine god of the city Ekron, also called lord of the flies because he drove flies away from the sacrifice. In the New Testament, an evil spirit named Beelzeboul “destroys by means of tyrants, causes demons to be worshipped, arouses desires in priests, brings about jealousies and murders, and instigates wars”. He is also called the prince of demons. Though it is unclear whether Baalzebûb and Beelzeboul were intended to be the same figure, elements of both are included in this novel’s Beelzebub, as well as generally in popular culture today.
“Beelzebub.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Accessed 16 June 2008. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Beelzebub>.
“Beelzebub – Demons, Demonology, and Evil in Judaism and Christianity.” DeliriumsRealm. Accessed 16 June 2008. <http://www.deliriumsrealm.com/106/beelzebub/>.
Fenlon, John Francis. “Beelzebub.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. Accessed 16 June 2008. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02388c.htm>.