Sunday, April 16, 2023

Titivillus: History Mystery


Titivillus was a demon who used to work on behalf of Belphegor, Lucifer or Satan for introducing errors into scribes' work. Johannes Galensis, also known as John of Wales, mentioned the name of Titivillus first in Tractatus de Penitentia, c. 1285. 


Caesarius of Heisterbach gets the attribution. Besides, to describe Titivillus, it was said that gathering idle chat during church service and any skipped as well as mispronounced well words of service for taking to Hell to be counted against the offenders. The term "patron demon of scribes" has been used to describe him because the Titivillus demon offers a simple excuse for the errors. These will later creep into manuscripts because these are copied.

Marc Drogin wrote an institution manual named Medieval Calligraphy: Its History and Technique (1980). In this manual, he noted that each edition of The Oxford English Dictionary had been coming with a wrong page reference of everything, like a footnote on the earliest mention of Titivillus for the past half-century

As physical comedy's subversive figure, Titivillus has got a border role in late medieval English pageants like the ludicium which finished the Towneley Cycle. When it comes to the Medieval English play Mankind, he has an antagonistic role. Titivillus gave his introduction in a 15th English devotional treatise named Myroure of Oure Ladye, where he said (I.xx.54): "I am a poure dyuel, and my name ys Tytyvyllus ... I muste eche day ... brynge my master a thousande pokes full of faylynges, and of neglygences in syllables and wordes."


The appearance of his demonic form is like a humanoid creature which is covered in donkey ears, greenish-blue fur, owl-like eyes, and a serpent for a tail. Besides, Titivillus comes with a long and bloody tongue with greenish poison.

which caused scribes and preachers to fumble with their words. There exists a pair of green feathered wings protruding from the lower back.

When he turns into a human, he looks like an old man with a receding hairline and a pot belly. Besides, he puts on a three pieces suit and has greenish-blue eyes. He also has salt-and-pepper hair.

In popular culture:

The devil who makes the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons famous since 1977 is named Titivillus. Michael Ayrton wrote the book Titivillus or The Verbiage Collector, where he was the main topic.


Wright said that he belongs to some of the most caring parental figures he had in his life. He is very kind and protective towards him. He taught him about manners, etiquette, and other necessary things which are important to infernal politics, like information-gathering or assassination. But he admitted that their relationship could be vast if he were not the offspring of Belphegor, who is his master.

Source of the name:

Jacques de Vitry mentioned the topic of gathering liturgical errors in a sack in Sermones vulgares (tenth sermon, on Numbers 18:5). It mentions a demon which listens to the choir that sings psalms and gathers syncopated or omitted syllables in a sack. Johannes Galensis named the demon "Titivillus", whose task is gathering fragments of words and putting them in his bag daily about a thousand times. The Latin term "collect" is colligere, whereas for "fragments", it is fragmenta. These Latin terms are derived from John 6:12. Hence, the disciples must collect the broken pieces as they are told.


If it comes to talk about Titivillus, Vernet mentions The City of God (Book IV, Chapter 8) in a passage where Augustine mentions Tutilina, a goddess watching over grain after being gathered & stored. He mentions the goddess's name when he gives examples of Roman deities who are responsible for every step in the agricultural process. It is necessary to imagine a series of copyists' errors for arrival at "Titivillus" and other variants like Tutivillus, Tytivillum, Tintillus, Tantillus, Tintinillus, Titivitilarius, Titivilitarius.

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