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See also: Demiurge and démiurge



From Ancient Greek δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, one who works for the people; a skilled workman, a handicraftsman) (whence Latin dēmiūrgus, French démiurge), from δήμιος (dḗmios, belonging to the people, public) (from δῆμος (dêmos, the people), from Proto-Indo-European *deh₂mos (people), from *deh₂- (to divide) + Ancient Greek -ιος (-ios), from Proto-Indo-European *-yós (suffix creating an adjective from a noun)) + Ancient Greek -εργος (-ergos, suffix indicating a worker) (from ἔργον (érgon, labour; task; work), from Proto-Indo-European *wérǵom (work)).



demiurge (plural demiurges)

  1. (Platonic philosophy) The (usually benevolent) being that created the universe out of primal matter.
    A demiurge or craftsman god takes pre-existing matter and fashions it in light of the eternal Forms.
    • 1816, Proclus; Thomas Taylor, transl., “[Chapter XXI] From the Axioms in the Phædrus concerning Every Thing Divine [it Follows] that Every Thing Divine is Beautiful, Wise, and Good”, in The Six Books of Proclus the Platonic Successor, on the Theology of Plato, Translated from the Greek; [] Two Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for the author, by A[braham] J[ohn] Valpy, [], OCLC 21581141, page 203:
      [T]he demiurgus is father, and power and intellect. And he possesses these things as much as possible on account of intelligibles. For he is a God as father, on account of them. He is also power, and the generator of wholes, and knows beings intellectually, on account of them. For in them intelligible knowledge first subsists. Much more therefore are father, power and intellect in intelligibles; from which also the demiurgus being filled, participates of this triad.
    • 2013 March 13, “Plato's Timaeus”, in Edward N. Zalta, editor, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy[1], Stanford, Calif.: Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, ISSN 1095-5054, OCLC 224325075:
      The universe, he [Plato] proposes, is the product of rational, purposive, and beneficent agency. It is the handiwork of a divine Craftsman ("Demiurge," dêmiourgos, 28a6), who, imitating an unchanging and eternal model, imposes mathematical order on a preexistent chaos to generate the ordered universe (kosmos).
  2. (Gnosticism) A (usually jealous or outright malevolent) being who is inferior to the supreme being, and sometimes seen as the creator of evil.
    • 1908, Charles G[eorge] Herbermann, editor, The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church, New York, N.Y.: Robert Appleton Company, OCLC 61963111, page 708, column 1:
      The Gnostic Demiurge then assumes a surprising likeness to Ahriman, the evil counter-creator of Ormuzd in Mazdean philosophy. The character of the Gnostic Demiurge became still more complicated when in some systems he was identified with Jehovah, the God of the Jews or of the Old Testament, and was brought in opposition to Christ of the New Testament, the Only-Begotten Son of the Supreme and Good God.
    • 2003, Richard England, editor, Design after Darwin: 1860–1900, volume 1 (Metaphors and Metaphysics of Design. Key Statement of the 1860s.), Bristol: Thoemmes Press, OCLC 889348967, page xiv:
      This was the earnest attempt of a Christian to explain in some detail how God might act using natural law, although his critics noted that such a Creator had more in common with a gnostic demiurge than the transcendent God of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
    • 2005, Tau Malachi, “The Demiurgos and Evil”, in Living Gnosis: A Practical Guide to Gnostic Christianity, Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Worldwide, →ISBN, page 93:
      Common to all authentic Gnostic schools are teachings on the demiurgos and archons. However, exactly what the demiurgos and archons are in the symbolic and mystical language of the various Gnostic traditions can be very different from one tradition to another. The word demiurgos means "creator of the world," "false creator," or "false god." Archons mean "rulers" and indicate spiritual or cosmic forces associated with the demiurgos. [] [S]ome schools view the demiurgos quite literally as the God of the Old Testament, while others do not view Yahweh as the demiurgos at all.
  3. (figurative) Something (such as an idea, individual or institution) conceived as an autonomous creative force or decisive power.
  4. (historical, Ancient Greece) The title of a magistrate in a number of states of Ancient Greece, and in the city states (poleis) of the Achaean League.
    • 1747, George Sale [et al.], “Sect. III. The History of the Several States of Greece, from the Beginning of the Achæan League to Its Dissolution, and thence Succinctly to the Present Time”, in An Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time. [], volume VII, 2nd edition, London: Printed for T[homas] Osborne, []; A[ndrew] Millar, []; and J. Osborn, [], OCLC 9051170, book II (The Grecian and Asiatic History), chapter I (The History of Sparta, from Lycurgus, to Its Being Joined by Philpœmen to the Achæans), page 225:
      The demiurgi were next in power to the prætor, and therefore ſtiled by Polybius and Livy, the ſupreme magiſtrates of the Achæans. They were ten in number, choſen by the general aſſembly from among the moſt eminent men of the whole league for prudence, equity, and experience. It was their office to aſſiſt, with their advice, the prætor, who was to ſay nothing before the aſſembly, but what had been previouſly approved of by the major part of the demiurgi.
    • 1979, Shimon Applebaum, “The Greek Colonization”, in Jews and Greeks in Ancient Cyrene (Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity; 28), Leiden: E. J. Brill, →ISBN, page 39:
      An important Cyrenean inscription of the 4th century, defines the functions of the demiurgi in a given situation and adds that they are discharged by these magistrates in the cities (of Libya), by the hellenodikai in the Temple of Zeus Olympios (i.e. in Olympia), by the amphiktyons at Delphi, and by the hieromnamones in the Temple of Zeus Lykaios (the Lyceum of Arcadia).

Usage notes[edit]

The word is capitalized as Demiurge when used as a name; however, in practice capitalization is inconsistent.

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Further reading[edit]




  1. vocative singular of dēmiūrgus