In the Bible's book of Isaiah, Ariel is a symbolic name for Jerusalem. By the Middle Ages, it had become the name of one of seven water spirits who were led by the archangel Michael, according to the cabalistic Jewish tradition. Among the common folk, it was simply the name of an air or water spirit.
cabalistic referring to a system of mystical thought based on a secret interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures
Ariel is also the name of several different spirits in English literature. In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Ariel is a mischievous spirit who had been imprisoned by a witch and freed by the magician Prospero. Ariel helps Prospero reconcile with his enemies, regain his throne, and marry off his daughter. In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Ariel is one of the fallen angels who accompany Satan. In Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock, he is one of the comic protectors of the heroine Belinda.
See also Satan .
* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.