No Sympathies: Sheol Picture

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"The whale has another trick: when he is hungry, he opens his mouth and a sweet smell comes out. The fish are tricked by the smell and they enter into his mouth. Suddenly the whale’s jaws close. Likewise, any man who lets himself be tricked by a sweet smell and led to sin will go into hell, opened by the devil — if he has followed the pleasures of the body and not those of the spirit. When the devil has brought them to hell, he clashes together the jaws, the gates of hell. No one can get out from them, just as no fish can escape from the mouth of the whale."

~ "The Whale," a poem from the Old English book The Exeter

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Sheol is the Prince of Envy, and, like Abaddon, I changed his name from the original myth. In folklore the Prince of Envy is Leviathan. Now, in the Hebrew Bible, Leviathan is just a big sea monster - a mortal beast and nothing more. But Christian demonology later made him a demon. Personally, I prefer Leviathan as a sea monster, so I looked to see if any other names could apply.

Now, the Prince of Envy's job is to serve as THE HELLMOUTH - i.e. the bridge between hell and the mortal realm. Medieval art shows demons emerging from the bowels of the earth via a massive draconic maw, which, in the seven princes myth, belongs to the Prince of Envy. However, other myths give different names for the Hellmouth. The name "Hades," stolen from Greek Mythology, is one of those, but that doesn't solve the problem for me. Hades is a distinct figure in my mind too, so I wanted something that had no prior associations.

So we come to a third name for the Hellmouth: Sheol. It's Hebrew, which fits well enough, and while Sheol technically predates the concept of Hell itself, I like it well enough to use it.

So we have Sheol, the Prince of Envy. Since he serves as the gateway between Hell and other planes, he's gotta be big - bigger than all other demons, in fact. I started picturing him as this big hollow windsock of a creature - just a giant tube of skin and muscle. Since he's conflated with Leviathan, I tried to make him look like a sea monster. He's got crocodile scales on his belly and a big tail fin which doubles as his, uh, lower vent. I covered him with eyes so he can constantly look longingly at all the things he wants but can never have, and he's also got long skinny arms to feebly grasp at those things in quiet desperation.

Sheol IS the seventh deepest pit of Hell, and all sinners must pass through his wretched bowels to reach the lower pits. Those who also fall prey to their own envy get stuck in the process, and are eternally stuck gazing at heaven longing through the hellmouth's stinking throat. Sheol is also the whiniest of the seven princes, spending all his time complaining and weeping and bemoaning his pitiful state. His chain lies in his own hollowness - while Sheol's form is light enough to float above the rest of hell, it lacks the strength to fly back into the land of the saved. If Sheol could stop longing after the possessions of others long enough to build up the assets he has, he could return to his beloved home - but that asks too much from the Prince of Envy.
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