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An incubus (nominal form
constructed from the Latin verb,
incubo, incubare, or "to lie
upon") is a demon in male form
who, according to a number of
mythological and legendary
traditions, lies upon sleepers,
especially women, in order to
have intercourse with them. Its
female counterpart is the
succubus. An incubus may
pursue sexual relations with a
woman in order to father a
child, as in the legend of Merlin.
[1] Religious tradition holds that
repeated intercourse with an
incubus or succubus may result
in the deterioration of health, or
even death.[2]
Medieval legend claims that
demons, both male and female,
sexually prey on human beings -
generally during the night when
the victim is sleeping.
Victims may have been
experiencing waking dreams or
sleep paralysis. Nocturnal
arousal or nocturnal emission
could be explained away by
creatures causing otherwise
guilt-producing behavior.[3]
Then again, victims of incubi
could well have been the victims
of real sexual assault. Rapists
may have attributed the rapes of
sleeping women to demons in
order to escape punishment. A
friend or relative is at the top of
the list in such cases and would
be kept secret by the
intervention of 'spirits.' The
victims and, in some cases, the
magistrates,[4] may have found
it easier to explain the attack as
supernatural rather than
confront the idea that the attack
came from someone in a
position of
trust.[citation needed]

Ancient and religious
One of the earliest mentions of
an incubus comes from
Mesopotamia on the Sumerian
King List, ca. 2400 BC, where the
hero Gilgamesh's father is listed
as Lilu.[5] It is said that Lilu
disturbs and seduces women in
their sleep, while Lilitu, a female
demon, appears to men in their
erotic dreams.[6] Two other
corresponding demons appear
as well: Ardat lili, who visits men
by night and begets ghostly
children from them, and Irdu lili,
who is known as a male
counterpart to Ardat lili and
visits women by night and
begets from them. These
demons were originally storm
demons, but they eventually
became regarded as night
demons due to mistaken
Debate about the demons began
early in the Christian tradition. St.
Augustine touched on the topic
in De Civitate Dei ("The City of
God"). There were too many
attacks by incubi to deny them.
He stated, "There is also a very
general rumor. Many have
verified it by their own
experience and trustworthy
persons have corroborated the
experience others told, that
sylvans and fauns, commonly
called incubi, have often made
wicked assaults upon
women."[8] Questions about the
reproductive capabilities of the
demons continued. 800 years
later, Thomas Aquinas lend
himself to the ongoing
discussion, stating, "Still, if some
are occasionally begotten from
demons, it is not from the seed
of such demons, nor from their
assumed bodies, but from the
seed of men, taken for the
purpose; as when the demon
assumes first the form of a
woman, and afterwards of a
man; just so they take the seed
of other things for other
generating purposes."[9] It
became generally accepted that
incubi and succubi were the
same demon, able to switch
between male and female forms.
[10] A succubus would be able
to sleep with a man and collect
his sperm, and then transform
into an incubus and use that
seed on women. Even though
sperm and egg came from
humans originally, the spirits
offspring were often thought of
as supernatural.[3]
Though many tales claim that
the incubus is bisexual,[11]
others indicate that it is strictly
heterosexual and finds attacking
a male victim either unpleasant
or detrimental.[12] There are
also numerous stories[where?]
involving the attempted
exorcism of incubi or succubi
who have taken refuge in,
respectively, the bodies of men
or women.[citation needed]
Incubi are sometimes said to be
able to conceive children. The
half-human offspring of such a
union is sometimes referred to
as a cambion. The most famous
legend of such a case includes
that of Merlin, the famous
wizard from Arthurian legend.
According to the Malleus
Maleficarum, exorcism is one of
the five ways to overcome the
attacks of incubi, the others
being Sacramental Confession,
the Sign of the Cross (or recital
of the Angelic Salutation),
moving the afflicted to another
location, and by
excommunication of the
attacking entity, "which is
perhaps the same as
exorcism."[13] On the other
hand, the Franciscan friar
Ludovico Maria Sinistrari stated
that incubi "do not obey
exorcists, have no dread of
exorcisms, show no reverence
for holy things, at the approach
of which they are not in the least

Regional variations
There are a number of variations
on the incubus theme around
the world. The alp of Teutonic or
German folklore is one of the
better known. In Zanzibar, Popo
Bawa primarily attacks men and
generally behind closed doors.
[14] "The Trauco", according to
the traditional mythology of the
Chiloé Province of Chile, is a
hideous deformed dwarf who
lulls nubile young women and
seduces them. The Trauco is said
to be responsible for unwanted
pregnancies, especially in
unmarried women. Perhaps
another variation of this
conception is the "Tintín" in
Ecuador, a dwarf who is fond of
abundant haired women and
seduces them at night by playing
the guitar outside their
windows; a myth that
researchers believe was created
during the Colonial period of
time to explain pregnancies in
women who never left their
houses without a chaperone,
very likely covering incest or
sexual abuse by one of the
family's friends.[15] In Hungary,
a lidérc can be a Satanic lover
that flies at night and appears as
a fiery light (an ignis fatuus or
will o' the wisp) or, in its more
benign form as a featherless

In Brazil and the rainforests of
the Amazon Basin, the Boto is a
combination of siren and
incubus, a very charming and
beautiful man who seduces
young women and takes them
into the river.[17] It is said to be
responsible for disappearances
and unwanted pregnancies,[18]
and it can never be seen by
daylight, because it
metamorphoses into a kind of
river dolphin during those
hours. According to legend the
boto always wears a hat to
disguise the breathing hole at
the top of its head.[19]
The Southern African incubus
demon is the Tokolosh. Chaste
women place their beds upon
bricks to deter the rather short
fellows from attaining their
sleeping forms. They also share
the hole in the head detail and
water dwelling habits of the

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