When is a blood feud sated? At what point is revenge sufficient? Alastor might say “never.” Alastor may be an individual spirit of vengeance or a class of avenging spirits. The term is sometimes used as an epithet for deities like Zeus and Nemesis in their roles as purveyors of justice. What began as justice spirits evolved into feared spirits of questionable intent associated with vendettas and blood feuds.
Alastor’s revenge isn’t just any revenge: it’s bloody, scary, out-of-control, raging revenge. Euripides’ Cassandra threatens Agamemnon by claiming the powers of an alastor (and as she is a shaman, this may be no idle threat).
Alastor is identified with the concept of children paying for the sins of their fathers, a common theme in Greek mythology. Al though theoretically Alastor is a justice spirit, an alastor is also a feared possessing spirit that relentlessly drives its host to seek vengeance. The spirit may enjoy the bloodshed. (The clue is that the host displays obsessions and feels compelled to do what he or she does not wish to do or knows is wrong.) Psychic disharmony caused by the trauma of the original crime renders the individual vulnerable to the alastor. Thus when Orestes is advised by an oracle to avenge his father by murdering his mother, he initially questions whether this advice really came from Apollo or from an evil-intentioned alastor. By the Middle Ages, Alastor was identified as a Demon or a class of Demons.
Alastor- Avenger – Origin: Greek
See also: Apollo; Demon; Erinyes; Nemesis; Zeus
Alastor (avenger) In Greek mythology, the name for an avenging Demon who follows the footsteps of criminals according to Aeschylus’s Agamemnon. Shelley used the name for Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude (1816); his first important work, the poem is a condemnation of self-centered idealism. The name Alastor is also borne by a son of Neleus and brother of Nestor, married to Harpalyce.
From the Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow – Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante
Alastor: A vengeance demon named in Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal. In this text, de Plancy indicates that Alastor was known in the Zoroastrian tradition as the Executioner. Although the Zoroastrian connection is dubitable, in the tradition of the ancient Greeks, Alastor was indeed a spirit of vengeance. Zeus was known as Zeus Alastor whenever he assumed a vengeful form. In Waite’s presentation of the Grand Grimoire from his 1910 Book of Black Magic and Pacts, Alastor is described as Hell’s Commissioner of Public Works. He is also portrayed as an infernal judge. These attributions tie back to the work of Charles Berbiguier, a self-styled demonologist from the early nineteenth century.
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