Monday, March 23, 2009


When I was reading Lolita, it stood out to me how often Humbert uses various forms of the "demon" when describing Lo. While the meaning I was familiar with fit(ish), I suspected more, so I took it to the OED. Lo and behold!- the first entry for the word:

    1. a. In ancient Greek mythology (= {delta}{alpha}{giacu}{mu}{omega}{nu}): A supernatural being of a nature intermediate between that of gods and men; an inferior divinity, spirit, genius (including the souls or ghosts of deceased persons, esp. deified heroes). Often written dæmon for distinction from sense 2.

And then in the examples:

1680 H. MORE Apocal. Apoc. 252 Dæmons according to the Greek idiom, signify either Angels, or the Souls of men, any Spirits out of Terrestrial bodies, the Souls of Saints, and Spirits of Angels.


1846 GROTE Greece I. ii. (1862) I. 58 In Homer, there is scarcely any distinction between gods and dæmons.

So who'd-a-thunk-it? Usually I have my doubts, but I'm pretty positive Nabokov knew what he was doing.

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