Letters from the Earth
Letters from the Earth is a story by Mark Twain, published after his death. It is written as a series of letters from the exiled archangel Satan to his friends back in heaven. The letters contain a series of sardonic observations about mankind and their beliefs about religion.
- Regarding "thou shalt have no other gods before me": "But wait - I am not fair; I am misrepresenting him; prejudice is beguiling me into saying what is not true. He did not say he wanted all of the adulations; he said nothing about not being willing to share them with his fellow gods; what he said was, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
- It is a quite different thing, and puts him in a much better light - I confess it. There was an abundance of gods, the woods were full of them, as the saying is, and all he demanded was that he should be ranked as high as the others - not above any of them, but not below any of them. He was willing that they should fertilize earthly virgins, but not on any better terms than he could have for himself in his turn. He wanted to be held their equal. This he insisted upon, in the clearest language: he would have no other gods before him. They could march abreast with him, but none of them could head the procession, and he did not claim the right to head it himself."
- — Letters from the Earth