The Pierpont Morgan Library/Art Resource, NY

“And war broke out in heaven” (Revelation 12:7). The archangel Michael (top register, left of center) spears one of the devil’s seven heads, in this tenth-century illumination from a commentary on the Apocalypse, written by the Spanish monk Beatus. According to Revelation 20:2–3, “[An angel] seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit.” In this illumination, Michael’s angelic troops help push the devil’s naked followers into hell (lower right), where the devil appears in another guise, as a large black beast tied in chains. At upper left appears the woman cited in Revelation 12:1–2 and at upper right, God enthroned, flanked by an angel, welcomes a child led by another angel (Revelation 12:5).

Since the days of the early church, this passage from Revelation has been conflated with Isaiah 14:12–15, leading Augustine and other early church fathers to identify the Old Testament king of Babylon, who is cast from heaven into a pit, with the devil of Revelation.