In the Company of Demons
Unnatural Beings, Love, and Identity in the Italian Renaissance
Maggi leads us straight to the heart of what Italian Renaissance culture thought familiar spirits were. Through close readings of Giovan Francesco Pico della Mirandola, Strozzi Cigogna, Pompeo della Barba, Ludovico Sinistrari, and others, we find that these spirits or demons speak through their sudden and striking appearances—their very bodies seen as metaphors to be interpreted. The form of the body, Maggi explains, relies on the spirits’ knowledge of their human interlocutors’ pasts. But their core trait is compassion, and sometimes their odd, eerie arrivals are seen as harbingers or warnings to protect us. It comes as no surprise then that when spiritual beings distort the natural world to communicate, it is vital that we begin to listen.
“In his new and fascinating book, Armando Maggi tries to understand the strange world of Renaissance demonology without dwelling on its obvious absurdities. . . . His aim is not to psychoanalyse but to sympathize, and his method is to enter into the spirit (so to speak) of this strange world.”
“Maggi gives us an original and penetrating interpretation of Renaissance demonology, with a brilliant analysis and with a challenge to the reader for deeper thoughts on a theme that attracts scholars, but still has some new views.”