In European folklore, a GOBLIN figure whose name is sometimes synonymous with Satan or the Devil.
The origin of the name Harlequin is uncertain, and it has many variations of spellings, including erlequin, herlekin, hierlekin, hellequin, hennekin, and hellekin. Herlaken is used as the name for the Devil and the will-o’-the-wisp. Harlican appears in French folklore to describe both IMPs and troublesome children. The Hennekin, sometimes associated with incubi (see Incubus), dance at Crossroads at night. The Herlethingi are troops of night wanderers who are the dead. In England, such bands were described in the 11th and 12th centuries and sometimes comprised dead aristocrats. They also appeared at noontime. Harlequin (Helequin) is associated with the Wild Hunt as the leader of a pack of ghosts and Demons that ride through the air on stormy nights. Harlequin was a frequent clown character in the Italian improvisational theater called commedia dell’arte, popular in the 16th–18th centuries.
Further Reading :
– Remy, Nicholas. Demonolatry. Secaucus, N.J.: University Books, 1974.