Titivillus, The Printer’s Devil, Strikes Again

I have edited seven books now. The latest is Iced Cream, by the poet Jesus Correa. The editing process is much like weeding a garden. In more ways than would originally imagine. Sometimes, no matter how deliberately you attend to removing the weeds, you wake up, and more seem to have sprouted. More small errors. Where do they come from? How did you miss them the last time?

Perhaps it’s Titivillus.

Titivillus was a demon said to work on behalf of Belphegor, Lucifer or Satan to introduce errors into the work of scribes. The first reference to Titivillus by name occurred in Tractatus de Penitentia, c. 1285, by Johannes Galensis, John of Wales.[1] Titivillus has also been described as collecting idle chat that occurs during church service, and mispronounced, mumbled or skipped words of the service, to take to Hell to be counted against the offenders.

He has been called the “patron demon of scribes,” as Titivillus provides an easy excuse for the errors that are bound to creep into manuscripts as they are copied.[2]

Illustration of The Printer's Devil, Titivillus, by Jenny Mathews, of The Rockford Illustrating Company.

Illustration of The Printer’s Devil, Titivillus, by Jenny Mathews, of The Rockford Illustrating Company.

Iced Cream is due back from the printer next week, and I simultaneously am excited and hesistant to open that box, because I know that error is in there. Maybe I won’t see it next week. Maybe I won’t even see it next month, but eventually I’ll see it. And when I do I know Titivillus will be somewhere giggling.


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