The term Prince of Darkness was first made famous by John Milton in his epic poem entitled Paradise Lost. Since the publishing of this 17th literary masterpiece, the term has found it's way into mainstream Christianity, and seems to be quite an acceptable term to describe Satan or Lucifer. It is thought that Milton borrowed the term from the Latin poem Rhytmus de die mortis by Pietro Damiani, which in the Latin language is princeps tenebrarum. There is evidence that this term was used as far back as the 11th century, with the original creator of it possibly being Bernard of Clairvaux, who liked to use it during his sermons. It is quite undisputed however that Milton actually made the term mainstream, without which it would have collected dust within old Latin archives. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to read through John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, then I would encourage you to buy a copy of it as soon as you can.
As far as the origin of the term Prince of Darkness with regard to Satan is concerned, it's quite an easy riddle to solve. In both Old and New Testament scripture there are many references to Satan or Lucifer being a prince. For example it is mentioned that Satan was a great archangel, and prince amongst angels. It is also stated in the Book of John that Satan is the Prince of this World. So coupling the fact that Satan has been often called a prince in scripture, with the fact that his presence is darkness, or opposite to the light of God and truth, you then get the term Prince of Darkness. I know most of this is pretty obvious within the Western World, however many of our web visitors are from cultures not heavily influenced by Christianity, and thus they may find this information helpful. What is also interesting is how Prince of Darkness is an opposite to Bearer of Light or Morning Star, other names often associated with Lucifer.
Outside of being used as a name for Satan or Lucifer, the term Prince of Darkness is quite often associated with the fictional character Dracula, or his real life counterpart Vlad II Dracul the Prince of Wallachia. It was the Irish author Bram Stoker who first applied the name to Dracula in his 1897 novel. By borrowing the term from Milton, Stoker seemed to ignite a huge pop culture trend, with many future film and literary works about Dracula being called Dracula Prince of Darkness, as is the case of the horror film by Terence Fisher. There are numerous other examples not just in film, but in music as well, such as the album entitled Prince of Darkness by Alice Cooper. So the next time you see this term being used to described Dracula know that it was a trend started by Bram Stoker, who borrowed it from John Milton, who in turn took it from much older Latin works. Princeps tenebrarum is the original form of the term, which is easy to remember.
Another well known contemporary example of putting the term Prince of Darkness to use, is in the album by Ozzy Osbourne called Prince of Darkness. This album was much more popular than Alice Cooper's work by the same title, in fact it played on Ozzy's nickname the Prince of Darkness, a term you will still frequently hear applied to him even today. With regard to the album itself, it was actually a box set of four CDs, which had an original release date of 2005. The first two albums within the set are Ozzy's solo compilations, featuring live recording tracks, demos, and b-sides. The other two CDs in the set feature duets and various cover songs that Ozzy preformed throughout the years. With regard to the title itself, Prince of Darkness, it's likely that Ozzy is playing off of a sort of hybrid deity between both Lucifer and Dracula, trying to sort of personify himself as bad or evil for marketing purposes of course, as he seems like a nice guy.