Deals With The Devil and Their Outcomes

Michael Pacher, The Devil and Saint Augustine
Michael Pacher, The Devil and Saint Augustine

Pope Sylvester II

Alleged stakes: Acquire demonic girlfriend named Meridiana, become pope

Outcome: Sort of ousted, fled to Ravenna, sort of reinstated. Mostly fine? Also remembered for being good at geometry. Has a commemorative stamp in Hungary and France.

Sæmundur Sigfússon, Icelandic priest

Alleged stakes: Sæmundur was permitted to ride on the Devil's back all the way home to Iceland in the form of a seal (the Devil was in the form of the seal, not Sæmundur)

Outcome: "When they neared the shore of Iceland he raised his Bible and brought it down on the devil’s head as hard as he could, at which the seal sunk to the bottom of the sea."

Johann Faust

Alleged stakes: Unlimited knowledge and pleasure

Outcome: Dragged to Hell (in some versions spared at the last minute by the eternal feminine. Nice!)

Christoph Haizmann

Alleged stakes: Become more successful painter

Outcome: Twice exorcised, then became a Brother Hospitaller. Quality of paintings unknown

Bernard Fokke, 17th-century Dutch captain

Alleged stakes: Ship go faster

Outcome: Sailed from the Dutch Republic to Java in three months (this was a very good score in 1678). Possibly inspired the Flying Dutchman

Jonathan Moulton, American revolutionary

Alleged stakes: Boots full of gold coins on the first of every month

Outcome: Jonathan found "the largest set of boots in all of New Hampshire" and secretly cut the soles out so all the gold would fall through a hole in his floor and fill his basement; devil burned down the house in revenge and the coins disappeared

Giuseppe Tartini, Venetian composer

Alleged stakes: Become really good at playing double stop trills on the violin/write a sonata featuring really demanding double stop trills

Outcome: Seems to have worked out

Niccolò Paganini, Italian violinist

Alleged stakes: Be great at violin

Outcome: Denied Church burial :(

Philippe Musard

Alleged stakes: Become famous conductor

Outcome: Became famous conductor (and "ardent supporter of homeopathy")

Tommy Johnson, American musician

Alleged stakes: Mastery of the guitar

Outcome: Became pretty successful blues guitarist

Robert Johnson, American musician (no relation to Tommy Johnson)

Alleged stakes: Become timeless, great blues musician

Outcome: Died young, but not before becoming a timeless, great blues musician who would go on to influence the most important blues and rock and roll musicians of the twentieth century

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]