A spurious demonic etymology of “Andaluz”

Taken from a 17th century play which has the devil fly a student over Madrid and reveal to him its innermost secrets.

<a href='http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuente_del_%C3%81ngel_Ca%C3%ADdo'>El Ángel Caído</a> by Ricardo Bellver in El Retiro, Madrid. Photo <a href='http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archivo:El_%C3%81ngel_Ca%C3%ADdo_%28Ricardo_Bellver%29_MRABASF_03.jpg'>CC</a> by Luis García/Zaqarbal on Wikimedia Commons.

El Ángel Caído by Ricardo Bellver in El Retiro, Madrid. Photo CC by Luis García/Zaqarbal on Wikimedia Commons.

Andalusians may seem to spend more time sitting around in the sun and less in offices than most other Iberians, but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily appreciate so much enlightenment.

I’ve been having another look at Italian winged demons, and via Il diavolo zoppo (see also French avatars such as Alain-René Lesage’s Le Diable boiteux) I arrived at Luis Vélez de Guevara’s 1641 El diablo cojuelo (background). In this tremendous proto-panoptic romance, a devil rewards a student for his liberation from an astrologer’s tube by taking him on his coattails and flying him over Madrid, stripping away with a sweep of his arm roofs and other impediments and revealing the secrets of the living and the dead. (The 1909 and 1948 film versions look interesting.)

Thence to the old debate about whether Lucifer jumped, fell, or was pushed. There’s a terrible pun in José de Valdivielso‘s El peregrino where he plumps for the former, making of Lucifer an Andaluz who is so-called because he said “¡Anda!”, “Away with you!”, to Luz, the Light, and the Light went and he fell into obscurity:

LUZBEL. Pues vamos, que el que hace mal
Siempre la luz aborrece.
DELEITE. Anda, soberbio andaluz,
Que a la Luz “anda” dijiste,
Y ella anduvo y tú caíste,
Donde siempre andas sin luz.

Of course, just because a Castilian poet has his Andalusian choose spiritual darkness doesn’t mean the poor thing should be obliged to put up with a troglodyte material existence as well.

It would be interesting to know if there are any other (Cainite, Iberian) tales locating Hell in Baetica. I think the play itself is interesting for the way it challenges personal privacy, which I don’t think existed generally before the modern age, and which seems to be disappearing again.

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Comments

  1. Wasn’t there something in Zorilla’s Tenorio about a gateway to Hell? (It’s been awhile since I last read it, I’ll have to check.) Of course, legend or no, anybody who’s ever had to deal with official Sevillano society can attest that it is just like a little slice of hell on earth. Further north, popular wisdom would have it that there was an actual doorway to Hell in Badalona (BCN). The traditional Festes de Maig celebrate this by burning a devil in effigy. I wonder if this is a widespread Spanish belief.

  2. To be fair to Seville I don’t think any of the Don Juan writers said it had privileged access to hell. (I can’t remember whether Don Juan Notorio went to hell at the end–I think he escaped in the most delightful of manners.) People do tend to say that society there is hellish, although the Jerez aristocracy is said to be even worse. Badalona is a pretty good approximation of hell on earth, so pretending to look further has something of an air of desperation about it. Where would you start looking for hell in Spain if you had to?

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