Evil, n. That which is twisted, depraved, and wicked.
Once upon a time, a king wished that his people know what evil was, so
that his people could learn to recognize and flee from it. He issued a
summons, that, in a year, all of his artists should come to him with
one picture, to show what was evil. The best picture would be
displayed to the people.
In a year, they all appeared at the king's palace. There were very few
artists in the kingdom, but those who were there were very skillful,
and worked as they had never worked before. Each brought a picture
beneath a shroud.
The king turned to the first artist who had come. "Jesse, unveil your
picture, and tell us its interpretation."
Jesse lifted the cloth. Against a background of blackened skulls was a
dark green serpent, the color of venom and poison, with eyes that
glowed red. "Your majesty, it was the Serpent whose treacherous venom
deceived man to eat of the forbidden fruit. The eye is the lamp of the
body, and the Serpent's eye burns with the fires of Hell. You see that
beyond the Serpent are skulls. Evil ensnares unto death and outer
The court murmured its approval. The picture was striking, and spoke
its lesson well. The king, also, approved. "Well done, Jesse. If
another picture is chosen, it will not be because you have done
poorly. Now, Gallio, please show us your work."
Gallio unveiled his painting. In it was a man, his face red and veins
bulging from hate. In his hand, he held a curved dagger. He was slowly
advancing towards a woman, cowering in fear. "Your majesty, man is
created in the image of God, and human life is sacred. Thus the way we
are to love God is often by loving our neighbor. There are few
blasphemies more unholy than murder. You have asked me for a picture
to show what evil is, that your subjects may flee from it. This is
evil to flee from."
The court again murmured its approval, and the king began to shift
slightly. It was not, as some supposed, because of the repellent
nature of the pictures, but because he had secretly hoped that there
would be only one good picture. Now, it was evident that the decision
would not be so simple. "Gallio, you have also done well. And Simon,
Simon unveiled his picture, and people later swore that they could
smell a stench. There, in the picture, was the most hideous and
misshapen beast they had ever seen. Its proportions were distorted,
and its colors were ghastly. The left eye was green, and taller than
it was wide. The right eye was even larger than the left, red,
bloodshot, and flowing with blood; where there should have been a
pupil, a claw grotesquely protruded. It was covered with claws, teeth,
fur, scales, blood, slime, tentacles, and bits of rotted flesh;
several members of the court excused themselves. "However it may be
disguised, evil is that which is sick, distorted, and ugly."
There was a long silence. Finally, the king spoke again. "I see that
there are three powerful pictures of evil, any one of which is easily
a masterpiece and well fit to show to the people. Barak, I know that
you have been given artistic genius, and that perhaps your picture
will help me with this difficult decision. Unveil your picture."
Barak unveiled his picture, and an awestruck hush fell over the court.
There, unveiled, was the most beautiful picture they had ever seen.
The picture was in the great vault of a room in a celestial palace. It
was carved of diamond, emerald, ruby, jasper, amethyst, sardonyx, and
chrysolite. Through the walls of gem, the stars shone brightly. But
all of this was nothing, compared to the creature in the room.
He carried with him power and majesty. He looked something like a man,
but bore glory beyond intense. His face shone like the sun blazing in
full force, his eyes flashed like lightning, and his hair like radiant
flame. He wore a robe that looked as if it had been woven from solid
light. In his left hand was a luminous book, written in letters of
gold, and in his right hand was a sharp, double edged sword, sheathed
in fire and lightning.
The king was stunned. It took him a long time to find words, and then
he shouted with all of his might.
"You fool! I ask you for a picture of evil, and you bring me this! It
is true that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and that, like
unthinking beasts, they do not hesitate to slander the glorious ones.
What do you have to say for yourself and for this picture? I shall
have an explanation now, or I shall have your head!"
Barak looked up, a tear trickling down his cheek. "Your majesty, do
you not understand? It is a picture of Satan."
- -- Hayward's Unabridged Dictionary