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Mammon

From Academic Kids

Mammon, a word of Aramaic origin, means "riches", but has an unclear etymology; scholars have suggested connections with a word meaning "entrusted", or with the Hebrew word "matmon", meaning "treasure". It is also used in Hebrew as a word for "money" - ממון.

The Greek word for "Mammon", mamonas, occurs in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew vi 24) and in the parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke xvi 9-13). The Authorised Version keeps the Syriac word. Wycliffe uses "richessis". Other scholars derive Mammon from Phoenician "mommon", benefit.

The word is used in contemporary language with the same meaning in at least Finnish (mammona) and Polish (mamona). This is extremely likely to be a result of biblical influence.

Personifications

In the Bible, mammon is personified in Matthew, vi, 24 (http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/matthew/matthew6.htm#v24), and Luke, xvi, 13 (http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/luke/luke16.htm#v13), the latter verse repeating Matthew, vi, 24. In some translations, Luke, xvi, 9, 11 (http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/luke/luke16.htm#v9) also personifies mammon; but in others, it is translated as 'dishonest wealth' or equivalent.

Early mentions of mammon appear to stem from the personification in the Gospels, e.g. Didascalia, "Do solo Mammona cogitant, quorum Deus est sacculus"; and St. Augustine, "Lucrum Punice Mammon dicitur" (Serm. on Mt., ii). Gregory of Nyssa also asserted that Mammon was another name for Beelzebub.

But during the European Middle Age, Mammon was commonly personified as the demon of avarice, richness and injustice. Thus Peter Lombard (II, dist. 6) says, "Riches are called by the name of a devil, namely Mammon, for Mammon is the name of a devil, by which name riches are called according to the Syrian tongue." Piers Plowman also regards Mammon as a deity. Nicholaos de Lyra (commenting on the passage in Luke) says: "Mammon est nomen daemonis" (Mammon is the name of a demon).

No trace, however, of any Syriac god of such a name exists, and the common literary identification of the name with a god of covetousness or avarice stems from Spenser (The Faerie Queene), Milton's (Paradise Lost), was arguably the first to call Mammon the god of accumulated wealth. Later occultist writings, such as De Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal describe Mammon as Hell's ambassador to England.

Appearances in popular culture

On the television show The Simpsons, plutocrat Montgomery Burns lives on Mammon Lane.

More recently featured in the Mozilla Firefox "Book of Mozilla" 7:15 - And so at last the beast fell and the unbelievers rejoiced. But all was not lost, for from the ash rose a great bird. The bird gazed down upon the unbelievers and cast fire and thunder upon them. For the beast had been reborn with its strength renewed, and the followers of Mammon cowered in horror.

In the SNES game Chrono Trigger, the Mammon machine channels the energy of Lavos to give Queen Zeal access to unbelievable power. In Secret of Mana, it is the name of the king of an island completely plated in gold.

In the Keanu Reeves film Constantine, Mammon is the name of the anti-christ, the son of Satan. Mammon's goal was to cross over to the mortal plane in order to bring a worse dominion to the realm than that of his father in hell.

In the Frederick Forsyth novel The Phantom of Manhattan, Mammon is worshipped by Erik and Darius as "the god of gold who permits no mercy, no charity, no compassion and no scruple".


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