Mephistophiles (also Mephistophilus, Mephistophilis, Mephostopheles, Mephisto and other variants) is a name given to a devil or demon in the Faust legend.
The name is associated with the Faust legend of a scholar who sold his soul to the demon Mephistopheles for knowledge, based on the historical Johann Georg Faust. The name appears in the late 16th century Faust chapbooks. In the 1725 version which was read by Goethe, Mephostophiles is a devil in the form of a greyfriar summoned by Faust in a wood outside Wittenberg. The name Mephistophiles already appears in the 1527 Praxis Magia Faustiana, printed in Passau, alongside pseudo-Hebrew text. It is best explained as a purposedly obscure pseudo-Greek or pseudo-Hebrew formation of Renaissance magic.
From the chapbook, the name enters Faustian literature and is also used by authors from Marlowe down to Goethe. In the 1616 edition of The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, Mephostophiles became Mephistophilus.
Burton (1992, p. 61) speculates on Greek elements that may have played a part in the coining of the name, including Greek mē "not", phōs "light" and philos "lover", suggesting "not a lover of light" in parody of lucifer. Variations in mephost- may be due to attraction by Latin mephitis "pungent", and Goethe's Mephistopheles may due to Hebrew tophel "liar".
(from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mephistopheles)
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