A book by James VI, king of Scotland (later James I of England).
The king’s books were greatly admired in his day, winning
the praise of Bacon, Izaak Walton, and numerous equally
eminent men of letters. Published in 1597, Daemonologie is written
in ‘‘[the] forme of ane dialogue,’’ the speakers being Philomathes
a skeptic of magic, and Epistemon, who enlightens
Philomathes on the subject. Epistemon names many famous
acts of witchcraft for the sake of analysis, but when Philomathes
asks why the black art is considered wicked Epistemon fails
to give a satisfactory answer. He merely rails against the practice,
making trite statements. Epistemon is converted to the
other speaker’s point of view, declaring loudly that all sorcerers
and the like ‘‘ought to be put to death according to the law of
God, the civill and imperiall Law, and municipall Law of all
Christian Nations.’’
The book was indicative of James’s credulity toward witchcraft.
He attended some witchcraft trials in Scotland and was
impressed with the evidence presented. Later, Puritan Bible
translators seeking James I’s approval of their work translated
the Hebrew word ob as ‘‘witch’’ to gain his favor. That translation
in the King James Version of the Bible provided the English-speaking
world with phrases such as ‘‘Thou shalt not suffer
a witch (ob) to live’’ and the ‘‘witch (ob) of Endow.’’
James I. Daemonologie. 1597. New York De Capo Press,
Macdougall, Norman. James IV. Edinburgh John Donald
Publishers, 1989.

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