Empathy for the Devil: The Origins of Mick Jagger’s Devil in John Milton’s London
The devil embodied by Mick Jagger in the Rolling Stones’s 1968 “Sympathy for the Devil” is a radical departure from the entirely pejorative devil of previous centuries in England. The context of the English Civil Wars and John Milton’s poetry transformed Satan into a figure with a recognizable psychology. A new readership, the Romantics, then re-evaluated, responded to, and empathized with Milton’s Satan. This chapter attempts to identify the specific path that took Satan from being the ultimate metaphysical threat to a rock icon. Drawing on original readings of the seventeenth-century pamphlet record as well as critical responses to Milton, Jagger, and the Romantics, it argues that the devil of “Sympathy for the Devil” is as much a product of the 1660s as the 1960s.