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Thank you for the question.

Certainly the Devil has an active presence and power in this life. While he is bound in chains for a figurative thousand year period (which is portrayed, metaphorically, as Cocytus ice), he remains stridently and decadently influential (which, in turn, is depicted by the three cold winds).

Many translations of the Lord's Prayer supplicate the Father to deliver us not from a generalized "evil," but a more particular "Evil One." He is the most powerful of the dark intellects that insinuate "logismoi," or suggestions. And, upon habituation through passion, he may even become so influential that it could be said that he "possesses."

This is implied in St. Maximus' understanding of the "abomination of desolation," where the native goodness of the human nature in an individual is completely overthrown.

This is signified in Dante's ghastly region of Ptolomaea, nearest except for Judecca unto the singularity occupied by Satan. Here, the souls are imprisoned horribly even before their bodies are dead.

I say this to underscore the fact that this little poem does not at all diminish the horror and reality of evil or the agency of the Evil One. It is accused of such on some other discussion boards. But it should be read as the rejection of dualism that it is, and the embrace of the Trinitarian rhetoric of the Gospel of Peace.

I do not believe in evil as I believe in the the Holy Trinity. I am frightfully aware of its existence. However, I stand aright, courageous in Christ, in the indomitable potency of hypostatic, kenotic love.

Please forgive the ignorance of a Midwestern Lutheran, but I've never pondered the existence of Cocytus beyond Dante and Mythology (I could tell an entertaining story of being 10 years old and discovering my grandfather's illustrated high school textbook on Dante that was stored in the attic of our farm grainery - it gave me quite a scare.) I understand that the Devil cannot make us do anything. You are also saying that the devil has no active presence or power on this earth / in our lives?

No, the Devil cannot "make" anyone do anything.

Now, on the flip side, as far as the first question is concerned, an answer is impossible. Not because the Devil's presence was necessary, but because this is a hypothesis contrary to fact. He exists, if one could call it that, bound in Cocytus. He makes nothing. He, I suppose, "expires" in an anti-inspirational way:

How cold I grew, how faint with fearfulness,
Ask me not, Reader; I shall not waste breath
Telling what words are powerless to express;

This was not life, and yet it was not death;
If thou hast wit to think how I might fare
Bereft of both, let fancy aid thy faith.

The Emperor of the sorrowful ream was there,
Out of the girding ice he stood breast-high,
And to his arm alone the giants were
Less comparable than to a giant I ...

From under each sprang two great wings that well
Befitted such a monstrous bird as that;
I ne'er saw ship with such a spread of sail.

Plumeless and like the pinions of a bat
Their fashion was; and as they flapped and whipped
Three winds went rushing over the icy flat
And froze up all Cocytus ...

The last lines are better in the original:

... e quelle svolazzava,
sì che tre venti si movean da ello:
quindi Cocito tutto s'aggelava.

Inferno, XXXIV, 22-31, 46-52
English translation, Dorothy Sayers

Would the actions of any of the people mentioned in ths piece - Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, have been any different if the Devil were removed from our presence, or they from the Devil?
Is there any grain of truth to the phrase of the 60's "the Devil made me do it"?

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