Seven deadly sins

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The Holy Spirit and the Seven Deadly Sins . Folio from Walters manuscript W.171 (15th century)

The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, is a grouping and classification of vices.[1] Behaviors or habits are classified under this category if they directly engender other immoralities. According the standard list, they are hubristic pride, greed, lust, malicious envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth, which are also contrary to the seven virtues.

This classification originated with the desert fathers, especially Evagrius Ponticus, who identified seven or eight evil thoughts or spirits that one needed to overcome.[2] Evagrius' pupil John Cassian, with his book The Institutes, brought the classification to Europe,[3] where it became fundamental to Catholic confessional practices as evident in penitential manuals, sermons like "The Parson's Tale" from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and artworks like Dante's Purgatory (where the penitents of Mount Purgatory are depicted as being grouped and penanced according the worst capital sin they committed). The Church used the doctrine of the deadly sins in order to help people stop their inclination towards evil before dire consequences and misdeeds occur; the leader-teachers especially focused on pride (which severs the soul from Grace, thus killing the soul[4]) and greed, both of which are seen as inherently sinful and as underlying all other sins. To inspire people to focus on the seven deadly sins, the vices are discussed in treatises, and depicted in paintings and sculpture decorations on churches.[1] Peter Brueghel the Elder's prints of the Seven Deadly Sins and extremely numerous other works, both non-religious and religious, show the continuity of this practice in the culture and everyday life of the modern era.

History[edit]

Biblical Antecedents[edit]

The seven deadly sins in their current form are not found in the Bible, however there are biblical antecedents. One such antecedent is found in the Book of Proverbs 6:16-19. Among the verses traditionally associated with King Solomon, it states that the Lord specifically regards "six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him", namely:[5]

  1. A proud(vain) look
  2. A lying tongue
  3. Hands that shed innocent blood
  4. A heart that deviseth wicked acts
  5. Feet that be swift in running to mischief
  6. A false witness that speaketh lies
  7. He that soweth discord among brethren[6]

Another list,[7] given this time by the Epistle to the Galatians (Galatians 5:19-21), includes more of the traditional seven sins, although the list is substantially longer: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, "and such like".[8] Since the apostle Paul goes on to say that the persons who practice these sins "shall not inherit the Kingdom of God", they are usually listed as (possible) mortal sins rather than capital vices.[9]

Greco-Roman Antecedents[edit]

While the seven deadly sins as we know them did not originate with the Greeks or Romans, there were ancient precedents for them. Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics lists several positive, healthy human qualities, excellences, or virtues. Aristotle argues that for each positive quality there are two negative vices that are found on each extreme of the virtue. Courage, for example, is the human excellence or virtue in facing fear and risk. Excessive courage makes one rash, while a deficiency of courage makes one cowardly. This principle of virtue found in the middle or "mean" between excess and deficiency is Aristotle's notion of the golden mean. Aristotle lists virtues like courage, temperance or self-control, generosity, "greatness of soul," proper response to anger, friendliness, and wit or charm.

Roman writers like Horace extolled the value of virtue while listing and warning against vices. His first epistles says that "to flee vice is the beginning of virtue, and to have got rid of folly is the beginning of wisdom."[10]

An allegorical image depicting the human heart subject to the seven deadly sins, each represented by an animal (clockwise: toad = avarice; snake = envy; lion = wrath; snail = sloth; pig = gluttony; goat = lust; peacock = hubris).

Origin of the currently recognized Seven Deadly Sins[edit]

The modern concept of the seven deadly sins is linked to the works of the fourth-century monk Evagrius Ponticus, who listed eight evil thoughts in Greek as follows:[11][12]

  • 1 Γαστριμαργία (gastrimargia) gluttony
  • 2 Πορνεία (porneia) prostitution, fornication
  • 3 Φιλαργυρία (philargyria) avarice
  • 4 Ὑπερηφανία (hyperēphania) hubris – sometimes rendered as self-overstimation[13]
  • 5 Λύπη (lypē) sadness – in the Philokalia, this term is rendered as envy, sadness at another's good fortune
  • 6 Ὀργή (orgē) wrath
  • 7 Κενοδοξία (kenodoxia) boasting
  • 8 Ἀκηδία (akēdia) acedia – in the Philokalia, this term is rendered as dejection

They were translated into the Latin of Western Christianity (largely due to the writings of John Cassian),[14][15] thus becoming part of the Western tradition's spiritual pietas (or Catholic devotions), as follows:[16]

  • 1 Gula (gluttony)
  • 2 Luxuria/Fornicatio (lust, fornication)
  • 3 Avaritia (avarice/greed)
  • 4 Superbia (hubris, pride)
  • 5 Tristitia (sorrow/despair/despondency)
  • 6 Ira (wrath)
  • 7 Vanagloria (vainglory)
  • 8 Acedia (sloth)

These "evil thoughts" can be categorized into three types:[16]

  • lustful appetite (gluttony, fornication, and avarice)
  • irascibility (wrath)
  • mind corruption (vainglory, sorrow, pride, and discouragement)

In AD 590 Pope Gregory I revised this list to form the more common list. Gregory combined tristitia and acedia, vanagloria and superbia, and added envy.[17][18] Gregory's list became the standard list of sins. Thomas Aquinas uses and defends Gregory's list in his Summa Theologica.[19]

Historical and modern definitions, views and associations[edit]

Most of the capital sins, with the sole exception of sloth, are defined by Dante Alighieri as perverse or corrupt versions of love for something or another. In the seven capital sins are seven ways of eternal death.[20] The capital sins from lust to envy are generally associated with pride, which has been labeled as the father of all sins, etc.

Lust[edit]

Main article: Lust
Detail of Lust at the Sankt Bartholomäus church (Reichenthal), Pulpit (1894)

Lust, or lechery (Latin, "luxuria" (carnal)), is intense longing. It is usually thought of as intense or unbridled sexual desire,[21] which leads to fornication, adultery, rape, bestiality, and other immoral sexual acts. However, lust could also mean simply desire in general; thus, lust for money, power, and other things are sinful. In accordance with the words of Henry Edward, the impurity of lust makes one "a slave of the devil".[4]

Lust can subvert propriety. Examples include Anna Karenina abandoning her husband and son because she lusted after a lover, and the besotted Vronsky abandoning his honorable career.[22]

Schopenhauer wrote:[22]

"Lust is the ultimate goal of almost all human endeavour, exerts an adverse influence on the most important affairs, interrupts the most serious business, sometimes for a while confuses even the greatest minds, does not hesitate with its trumpery to disrupt the negotiations of statesmen and the research of scholars, has the knack of slipping its love-letters and ringlets even into ministerial portfolios and philosophical manuscripts".

In Dante's Purgatorio, the penitent walks within flames to purge himself of lustful thoughts and feelings. In Dante's Inferno, unforgiven souls of the sin of lust are blown about in restless hurricane-like winds symbolic of their own lack of self-control to their lustful passions in earthly life.

Gluttony
Excess (Albert Anker, 1896)

Gluttony[edit]

Main article: Gluttony

Gluttony (Latin, gula) is the overindulgence and overconsumption of anything to the point of waste. The word derives from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow.

In Christianity, it is considered a sin if the excessive desire for food causes it to be withheld from the needy.[23]

Because of these scripts, gluttony can be interpreted as selfishness; essentially placing concern with one's own impulses or interests above the well-being or interests of others.

During times of famine, war, and similar periods when food is scarce, it is possible for one to kill his/her family just by eating too much or even too soon.

The table manner of beginning to eat at the same time is practiced in order to induce feelings of humanism among family members, so that, when famine or war comes, they will follow a humanistic approach, putting the well-being of the family above all else.

Medieval church leaders (e.g., Thomas Aquinas) took a more expansive view of gluttony,[23] arguing that it could also include an obsessive anticipation of meals, and the constant eating of delicacies and excessively costly foods.[24] Aquinas went so far as to prepare a list of five ways to commit gluttony, comprising:

  • Laute – eating too expensively
  • Studiose – eating too daintily
  • Nimis – eating too much
  • Praepropere – eating too soon
  • Ardenter – eating too eagerly

Out of these ardenter is often considered the most serious, since it is extreme attachment to the pleasure of mere eating, which can make the committer eat impulsively; absolutely and without qualification live merely to eat and drink; lose attachment to health-related, social, intellectual, and spiritual pleasures; and lose proper judgement: an example is Esau selling his birthright for ordinary food of bread and pottage of lentils. His punishment was that the "profane person . . . who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright," we learn that "he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears." [Gen 25:30]

Greed[edit]

Main article: Greed
Greed
1909 painting The Worship of Mammon by Evelyn De Morgan.

Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice, cupidity or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of desire. However, greed (as seen by the Church) is applied to an artificial, rapacious desire and pursuit of material possessions. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things." In Dante's Purgatory, the penitents were bound and laid face down on the ground for having concentrated too much on earthly thoughts. Hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by means of violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority are all actions that may be inspired by Greed. Such misdeeds can include simony, where one attempts to purchase or sell sacraments, including Holy Orders and, therefore, positions of authority in the Church hierarchy.

In the words of Henry Edward, avarice "plunges a man deep into the mire of this world, so that he makes it to be his god."[4]

As defined outside Christian writings, greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs, especially with respect to material wealth.[25] Like pride, it can lead to not just some, but all evil.

Sloth[edit]

Main article: Sloth (deadly sin)

Sloth (Latin, tristitia or acedia("without care")) refers to a peculiar jumble of notions, dating from antiquity and including mental, spiritual, pathological, and physical states.[26] It may be defined as absence of interest or habitual disinclination to exertion.[27]

In his Summa Theologica, Saint Thomas Aquinas defined sloth as "sorrow about spiritual good".

Spiritually, acedia first referred to an affliction attending religious persons, especially monks, wherein they became indifferent to their duties and obligations to God. Mentally, acedia, has a number of distinctive components of which the most important is affectlessness, a lack of any feeling about self or other, a mind-state that gives rise to boredom, rancor, apathy, and a passive inert or sluggish mentation, Physically, acedia is fundamentally associated with a cessation of motion and an indifference to work; it finds expression in laziness, idleness, and indolence.[26]

Sloth includes ceasing to utilize the seven gifts of grace given by the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Piety, Fortitude, and Fear of the Lord); such disregard may lead to the slowing of one's spiritual progress towards eternal life, to the neglect of manifold duties of charity towards the neighbor, and to animosity towards those who love God.[4]

Sloth has also been defined as a failure to do things that one should do. By this definition, evil exists when "good" people fail to act.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) wrote in Present Discontents (II. 78) "No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

Unlike the other capital sins, which are sins of committing immorality, sloth is a sin of omitting responsibilities. It may arise from any of the other capital vices; for example, a son may omit his duty to his father through anger. While the state and habit of sloth is a mortal sin, the habit of the soul tending towards the last mortal state of sloth is not mortal in and of itself except under certain circumstances.[4]

Emotionally and cognitively, the evil of acedia finds expression in a lack of any feeling for the world, for the people in it, or for the self. Acedia takes form as an alienation of the sentient self first from the world and then from itself. Although the most profound versions of this condition are found in a withdrawal from all forms of participation in or care for others or oneself, a lesser but more noisome element was also noted by theologians. From tristitia, asserted Gregory the Great, "there arise malice, rancour, cowardice, [and] despair..." Chaucer, too, dealt with this attribute of acedia, counting the characteristics of the sin to include despair, somnolence, idleness, tardiness, negligence, indolence, and wrawnesse, the last variously translated as "anger" or better as "peevishness". For Chaucer, human's sin consists of languishing and holding back, refusing to undertake works of goodness because, he/she tells him/her self, the circumstances surrounding the establishment of good are too grievous and too difficult to suffer. Acedia in Chaucer's view is thus the enemy of every source and motive for work.[28]

Sloth not only subverts the livelihood of the body, taking no care for its day-to-day provisions, but also slows down the mind,halting its attention to matters of great importance. Sloth hinders the man in his righteous undertakings and thus becomes a terrible source of human's undoing.[28]

In his Purgatorio Dante portrayed the penance for acedia as running continuously at top speed.

Dante describes acedia as the failure to love God with all one's heart, all one's mind and all one's soul; to him it was the middle sin, the only one characterised by an absence or insufficiency of love. Some scholars[who?] have said that the ultimate form of acedia was despair which leads to suicide.

Wrath[edit]

Main article: Wrath

Wrath (Latin, ira) can be defined as uncontrolled feelings of anger, rage, and even hatred, often revealing itself in the wish to seek vengeance.[29] Wrath, in its purest form, presents with injury, violence, and hate that may provoke feuds that can go on for centuries. Wrath may persist long after the person who did another a grievous wrong is dead. Feelings of wrath can manifest in different ways, including impatience, hateful misanthropy, revenge, and self-destructive behavior, such as drug abuse or suicide.

"People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing."

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the neutral act of anger becomes the sin of wrath when it's directed against an innocent person, when it's unduly strong or long-lasting, or when it desires excessive punishment. "If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin." (CCC 2302) Hatred is the sin of desiring that someone else may suffer misfortune or evil, and is a mortal sin when one desires grave harm. (CCC 2302-03)

People feel angry when they sense that they or someone they care about has been offended, when they are certain about the nature and cause of the angering event, when they are certain someone else is responsible, and when they feel they can still influence the situation or cope with it.[30]

Dante described vengeance as "love of justice perverted to revenge and spite".[29]

In accordance with Henry Edward, angry people are "slaves to themselves".[4]

Wrath is the only sin not necessarily associated with selfishness or self-interest, although one can of course be wrathful for selfish reasons, such as jealousy (closely related to the sin of envy).

Envy[edit]

Main article: Envy
Envy
Cain killing Abel, painting by Bartolomeo Manfredi, c. 1600

Envy (Latin, invidia), like greed and lust, is characterized by an insatiable desire. It can be described as a sad or resentful covetousness towards the traits or possessions of someone else. It severs a man from his neighbor.[4]

Malicious envy is similar to jealousy in that they both feel discontent towards someone's traits, status, abilities, or rewards. A difference is that the envious also desire the entity and covet it.

Envy can be directly related to the Ten Commandments, specifically, "Neither shall you covet... anything that belongs to your neighbour."( a statement that may also be related to greed). Dante defined envy as "a desire to deprive other men of theirs". In Dante's Purgatory, the punishment for the envious is to have their eyes sewn shut with wire because they have gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low. Aquinas described envy as "sorrow for another's good".[31]

Envy is said to be the motivation behind Cain murdering his brother, Abel, as Cain envied Abel because God favored Abel's sacrifice over Cain's.

Bertrand Russell said that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness,[32] bringing sorrow to committers of envy whilst giving them the urge to inflict pain upon others.

In accordance with the most widely accepted views, only pride weighs down the soul more than envy among the capital sins. Just like pride, envy has been associated directly with the devil. Wisdom 2:24 states:"but the envy of the devil brought death to the world,".

Pride[edit]

Main article: Hubris
Building the Tower of Babel was, for Dante, an example of pride. Painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

The negative version of pride (Latin, superbia) is considered, on almost every list, the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins: the source of the others- thus it is able to father directly and/or indirectly all sin. Also known as hubris (from ancient Greek ὕβρις),or futility, it is identified as the dangerously foolish absence of humility and corrupt selfishness, the putting of one's own desires, urges, wants, and whims before the welfare of people.

In even more destructive cases, it is possessing the irrational belief that one is automatically and essentially better or more important than others, failing to acknowledge the accomplishments of others, and excessive admiration of the personal image or self (especially forgetting one's own lack of divine authority, and refusing to acknowledge one's own limits, faults, or wrongs as a human being) .

As pride has been labelled the father of all sins, it has been deemed the devil's most prominent trait. C.S. Lewis writes, in Mere Christianity, that pride is the "anti-God" state, the position in which the ego and the self are directly opposed to God: "Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind."[33] Pride is understood to sever the soul from God, as well as His life-and-grace-giving Presence.[4]

In Ancient Athens, hubris was considered one of the greatest crimes and was used to refer to insolent contempt that can cause one to use violence to shame the victim (this sense of hubris could also characterize rape [1]). Aristotle defined hubris as shaming the victim, not because of anything that happened to the committer or might happen to the committer, but merely for the committer's own gratification.[34][35][36] The word's connotation changed somewhat over time, with some additional emphasis towards a gross over-estimation of one's abilities.

More recently, the term has been used to analyse and make sense of the actions of contemporary heads of government, notably by Ian Kershaw (1998), Peter Beinart (2010), and, in a much more physiological manner, by David Owen (2012). In this context, the term has been used to describe how certain leaders, when put to positions of immense power, seem to become irrationally self-confident in their own abilities, increasingly reluctant to listen to the advice of others and progressively more impulsive in their actions.[37]

Dante's definition of pride was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbour".

Hubris is associated with more intra-individual negative outcomes and is commonly related to expressions of aggression and hostility (Tangney, 1999). As one might expect, hubris is not always associated with high self-esteem but with highly fluctuating or variable self-esteem. Excessive feelings of hubris have a tendency to create conflict and sometimes terminating close relationships, which has led it to be understood as one of the few emotions with no clear positive or adaptive functions (Rhodwalt, et al.).

In accordance with the Sirach's author's wording, the heart of a proud man is "like a partridge in its cage acting as a decoy; like a spy he watches for your weaknesses. He changes good things into evil, he lays his traps and criticizes even the best things. Just as a spark sets coals on fire, the wicked man prepares his snares in order to draw blood. Beware of the wicked man for he is planning evil. He might dishonor you forever." In another chapter, he says that "the acquisitive man is not content with what he has, wicked injustice shrivels the heart."

While hubris is generally thought to be committed by individuals, it can be committed by groups. Discrimination is often the result of group pride.

The proverb "pride goeth (goes) before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (from the biblical Book of Proverbs, 16:18) is thought to sum up the modern use of hubris. Hubris is also referred to as "pride that blinds," as it often causes a committer of hubris to act in foolish ways that belie common sense.[37] In other words, the modern definition may be thought of as, "that pride that goes just before the fall." In his two-volume biography of Adolf Hitler, historian Ian Kershaw uses both 'hubris' and 'nemesis' as titles. The first volume, Hubris,[38] describes Hitler's early life and rise to political power. The second, Nemesis,[39] gives details of Hitler's role in the Second World War, and concludes with his fall and suicide in 1945.

Much of the 10th and part of 11th chapter of the Book of Sirach discusses and advises about pride, hubris, and who is rationally worthy of honor. It goes:

"Do not store up resentment against your neighbor, no matter what his offence; do nothing in a fit of anger. Pride is odious to both God and man; injustice is abhorrent to both of them. Sovereignty is forced from one nation to another because of injustice, violence, and wealth. How can there be such pride in someone who is nothing but dust and ashes? Even while he is living, man's bowels are full of rottenness. Look: the illness lasts while the doctor makes light of it; and one who is king today will die tomorrow. Once a man is dead, grubs, insects, and worms are his lot.The beginning of man's pride is to separate himself from the Lord and to rebel against his Creator. The beginning of pride is sin. Whoever perseveres in sinning opens the floodgates to everything that is evil. For this the Lord has inflicted dire punishment on sinners; he has reduced them to nothing. The Lord has overturned the thrones of princes and set up the meek in their place. The Lord has torn up the proud by their roots and has planted the humble in their place. The Lord has overturned the land of pagans and totally destroyed them. He has devastated several of them, destroyed them and removed all remembrance of them from the face of the earth. Pride was not created for man, nor violent anger for those born of woman. Which race is worthy of honor? The human race. Which race is worthy of honor? Those who fear the Lord. Which race is despicable? The human race. Which race is despicable? Those who break the commandments. The leader is worthy of respect in the midst of his brethren, but he has respect for those who fear the Lord. Whether, they be reach, honored or poor, their pride should be in fearing the Lord. It is nor right to despise the poor man who keeps the law; it is not fitting to honor the sinful man. The leader, then judge, and the powerful man are worthy of honor, but no one is greater than the man who fears the Lord. A prudent slave will have free men as servants, and the sensible man will not complain. Do not feel proud when you accomplished your work; do not put on airs when times are difficult for you. Of greater worth is the man who works and lives in abundance than the one who shows off and yet has nothing to live on. My son, have a modest appreciation of yourself, estimate yourself at your true value. Who will defend the man who takes his own life? Who will respect the man who despises himself? The poor man will be honored for his wisdom and the rich man, for his riches. Honored when poor-how much more honored when rich! Dishonored when rich-how much more dishonored when poor! The poor man who is wise carries his head high and sits among the great. Do nor praise a man because he is handsome and do not hold a man in contempt because of his appearance. The bee is one of the smallest winged insects but she excels in the exquisite sweetness of her honey. Do not be irrationally proud just because of the clothes you wear; do not be proud when people honor you. Do you know what the Lord is planning in a mysterious way? Many tyrants have been overthrown and someone unknown has received the crown. Many powerful men have been disgraced and famous men handed over to the power of others. Do not reprehend anyone unless you have been first fully informed, consider the case first and thereafter make your reproach. Do not reply before you have listened; do not meddle in the disputes of sinners. My child, do not undertake too many activities. If you keep adding to them, you will not be without reproach; if you run after them, you will not succeed nor wil you ever be free, although you try to escape."

— Sirach,10:6-31 and 11:1-10

Jacob Bidermann's medieval miracle play, Cenodoxus, pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the titulary famed Parisian doctor. Perhaps the best-known example is the story of Lucifer, whose pride filled him with so much evil that he forced a third of the other angels to worship him, causing his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the penitents are burdened with stone slabs on their necks to keep their heads bowed.

Pope Gregory considered vainglory (unjustified boasting) to be one of the kinds of pride.

Historical sins[edit]

Acedia[edit]

Main article: Acedia

Acedia (Latin, acedia "without care"[26]) (from Greek ἀκηδία) is the neglect to take care of something that one should do. It is translated to apathetic listlessness; depression without joy. It is related to melancholy: acedia describes the behaviour and melancholy suggests the emotion producing it. In early Christian thought, the lack of joy was regarded as a willful refusal to enjoy the goodness of God; by contrast, apathy was considered a refusal to help others in time of need.

Pope Gregory combined this with tristitia into sloth for his list. When Thomas Aquinas described acedia in his interpretation of the list, he described it as an uneasiness of the mind, being a progenitor for lesser sins such as restlessness and instability. Dante refined this definition further, describing acedia as the failure to love God with all one's heart, all one's mind and all one's soul; to him it was the middle sin, the only one characterised by an absence or insufficiency of love. Some scholars[who?] have said that the ultimate form of acedia was despair which leads to suicide.

Acedia is currently defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as spiritual sloth, which would be believing that spiritual tasks to be too difficult.

Detail of Pride from The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things by Hieronymous Bosch, c. 1500

Vainglory[edit]

Main article: Vanity

Vainglory (Latin, vanagloria) is unjustified boasting. Pope Gregory viewed it as a form of pride, so he folded vainglory into pride for his listing of sins.

The Latin term gloria roughly means boasting, although its English cognate - glory - has come to have an exclusively positive meaning; historically, vain roughly meant futile, but by the 14th century had come to have the strong narcissistic undertones, that it retains today.[40] As a result of these semantic changes, vainglory has become a rarely used word in itself, and is now commonly interpreted as referring to vanity (in its modern narcissistic sense).

Catholic seven virtues[edit]

The Catholic Church also recognizes seven virtues, which correspond inversely to each of the seven deadly sins.

Vice Latin Virtue Latin
Lust Luxuria Chastity Castitas
Gluttony Gula Temperance Temperantia
Greed Avaritia Charity (or, sometimes, Generosity) Caritas (Liberalitas)
Sloth Tristitia/Acedia Diligence Industria
Wrath Ira Patience Patientia
Envy Invidia Kindness Humanitas
Pride Superbia Humility Humilitas

This virtue is generally considered to be the greatest and the most important of all.

Confession Patterns[edit]

Confession is the act of admitting the commission of a sin to a religious official, who in turn will advise the person on what he or she should do afterwards.

According to a 2009 study by a Jesuit scholar, the most common deadly sin confessed by men is lust, and for women, pride.[41] It was unclear whether these differences were due to the actual number of transgressions committed by each gender, or whether differing views on what "counts" or should be confessed caused the observed pattern.[42]

In art[edit]

Dante's Purgatorio[edit]

The second book of Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy is structured around the seven deadly sins. The most serious sins, found at the lowest level, are the abuses of the most divine faculty. For Dante and other thinkers, a human's rational faculty makes humans more like God. Abusing that faculty with pride or envy weighs down the soul the most. Abusing one's passions with wrath or a lack of passion as with sloth also weighs down the soul but not as much as the abuse of one's rational faculty. Finally, abusing one's desires for to have one's physical needs met via greed, gluttony, or lust abuses a faculty that humans share with animals. This is still an abuse that weighs down the soul, but it does not weigh it down like other abuses. Thus, the top levels of the Mountain of Purgatory have the top listed sins, while the lowest levels have the more serious sins of wrath, envy, and pride.

  1. luxuria / Lust [43][44][45]
  2. gula / Gluttony
  3. avaritia / Greed
  4. acedia / Sloth
  5. ira / Wrath
  6. invidia / Envy
  7. superbia / Pride

Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Parson's Tale"[edit]

The last tale of the Canterbury Tales, the "Parson's Tale" is actually not a tale but a sermon that the parson gives against the seven deadly sins. This sermon brings together many common ideas and images about the seven deadly sins. This tale and Dante's work both show how the seven deadly sins were used for confessional purposes or as a way to identify, repent of, and find forgiveness for one's sins.

Peter Brueghel the Elder's Prints of the Seven Deadly Sins[edit]

The Dutch artist created a series of prints showing each of the seven deadly sins. Each print features a central, labeled image that represents the sin. Around the figure are images that show the distortions, degenerations, and destructions caused by the sin.[46] Many of these images come from contemporary Dutch aphorisms.[47]

Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene[edit]

Spenser's work, which was meant to educate young people to embrace virtue and avoid vice, includes a colourful depiction of the House of Pride. Lucifera, the lady of the house, is accompanied by advisers who represent the other seven deadly sins.

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Seven Deadly Sins[edit]

This work satirized capitalism and its painful abuses as its central character, the victim of a split personality, travels to seven different cities in search of money for her family. In each city she encounters one of the seven deadly sins, but those sins ironically reverse one's expectations. When the character goes to Los Angeles, for example, she is outraged by injustice, but is told that wrath against capitalism is a sin that she must avoid.

Paul Cadmus' The Seven Deadly Sins[edit]

Between 1945 and 1949, the American painter Paul Cadmus created a series of vivid, powerful, and gruesome paintings of each of the seven deadly sins.[48]

Cultural references[edit]

In the 1995 movie Se7en two detectives, a rookie (Brad Pitt) and a veteran (Morgan Freeman), hunt a serial killer who ironically uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.

In The Simpsons' Halloween special, "Treehouse of Horror XVIII" in the "Heck House" part, Ned Flanders, as the devil, takes Bart, Lisa, Milhouse, and Nelson on a tour of hell to warn them of the seven deadly sins on a magic globe such as Homer Simpson turning into a spaghetti after being a glutton, and Willie with his wrath kicking his tractor so hard, it turns into a Transformer-like robot and cuts Willie's head off.[49]

In the popular manga Fullmetal Alchemist, the seven deadly sins are personified as seven antagonists called Homunculi.

Revaluations[edit]

Ferdinand Mount maintains that liquid currentness, especially through tabloids, has surprisingly given valor to vices, causing society to regress into that of primitive pagans: "covetousness has been rebranded as retail therapy, sloth is downtime, lust is exploring your sexuality, anger is opening up your feelings, vanity is looking good because you're worth it and gluttony is the religion of foodies".[50]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tucker, Shawn (2015). The Virtues and Vices in the Arts: A Sourcebook. Cascade. ISBN 1625647182. 
  2. ^ Evagrius (2006). Evagrius of Pontus: The Greek Ascetic Corpus translated by Robert E. Sinkewicz. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199297088. 
  3. ^ Cassian, John (2000). The Institutes. Newman Press of the Paulist Press. ISBN 0809105225. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Manning, Henry Edward. Sin and Its consequences. 
  5. ^ [bible verse Proverbs 6:16–19]
  6. ^ "King James Version (Cambridge edition)". King James Version Online. Retrieved 2016-02-14. 
  7. ^ "The Seven Deadly Sins Listed in the Bible". alltencommandments.com. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  8. ^ Galatians
  9. ^ "Mortal and Venial Sin - Is it Biblical?". Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  10. ^ Tilby, Angela (2013-04-23). The Seven Deadly Sins: Their origin in the spiritual teaching of Evagrius the Hermit. SPCK. ISBN 9780281062997. 
  11. ^ Evagrio Pontico, Gli Otto Spiriti Malvagi, trans., Felice Comello, Pratiche Editrice, Parma, 1990, p.11-12.
  12. ^ Evagrius of Pontus: The Greek Ascetic Corpus. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2006-06-22. ISBN 9780199297085. 
  13. ^ In the translation of the Philokalia by Palmer, Ware, and Sherrard.
  14. ^ Remedies for the Eight Principal Faults
  15. ^ Cassian, St John (2000-01-03). The Institutes (First ed.). New York: Newman Press of the Paulist Press. ISBN 9780809105229. 
  16. ^ a b Refoule, F. (1967) "Evagrius Ponticus," In New Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vol. 5, pp. 644f, Staff of Catholic University of America, Eds., New York, NY, USA: McGraw-Hill.
  17. ^ DelCogliano, Mark (2014-11-18). Gregory the Great: Moral Reflections on the Book of Job, Volume 1. Cistercian Publications. ISBN 9780879071493. 
  18. ^ Tucker, Shawn R. (2015-02-24). The Virtues and Vices in the Arts: A Sourcebook. Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. 
  19. ^ "SUMMA THEOLOGICA: The cause of sin, in respect of one sin being the cause of another (Prima Secundae Partis, Q. 84)". www.newadvent.org. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  20. ^ Manning, Henry Edward. Sin and Its consequences. 
  21. ^ "Definition of LUST". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2016-05-04. 
  22. ^ a b Blackburn, Simon. Lust:The Seven Deadly SIns. ISBN 0-19-516200-5. 
  23. ^ a b Okholm, Dennis. "Rx for Gluttony". Christianity Today, Vol. 44, No. 10, September 11, 2000, p.62
  24. ^ "Gluttony". Catholic Encyclopedia. 
  25. ^ "The Free Dictionary". The Free Dictionary. April 1, 1987. Retrieved July 24, 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c Lyman, Stanford. The Seven Deadly Sins: Society and Evil. p. 5. ISBN 0-930390-81-4. 
  27. ^ "the definition of sloth". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  28. ^ a b Lyman, Stanford. The Seven Deadly Sins: Society and Evil. pp. 6–7. 
  29. ^ a b Landau, Ronnie. The Seven deadly Sins: A companion. ISBN 978-1-4457-3227-5. 
  30. ^ International Handbook of Anger. p. 290
  31. ^ "Summa Theologica: Treatise on The Theological Virtues (QQ[1] - 46): Question. 36 - Of Envy (four articles)". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
  32. ^ Russell, Bertrand (1930). The Conquest of Happiness. New York: H. Liverwright. 
  33. ^ Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, ISBN 978-0-06-065292-0
  34. ^ Aristotle. Rhetoric. p. 1378b. 
  35. ^ Cohen, David (1995). Law, Violence, and Community in Classical Athens. Cambridge University Press. p. 145. ISBN 0521388376. Retrieved March 6, 2016. 
  36. ^ Ludwig, Paul W. (2002). Eros and Polis: Desire and Community in Greek Political Theory. Cambridge University Press. p. 178. ISBN 1139434179. Retrieved March 6, 2016. 
  37. ^ a b "The 1920 Farrow's Bank Failure: A Case of Managerial Hubris". Durham University. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  38. ^ Kershaw, Ian (1998). Hitler 1889–1936: Hubris. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-04671-7. OCLC 50149322. 
  39. ^ Kershaw, Ian (2000). Hitler 1936–1945: Nemesis. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-04994-7. OCLC 45234118. 
  40. ^ Oxford English dictionary
  41. ^ "Two sexes 'sin in different ways'". BBC News. February 18, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2010. 
  42. ^ Morning Edition (February 20, 2009). "True Confessions: Men And Women Sin Differently". Npr.org. Retrieved July 24, 2010. 
  43. ^ Godsall-Myers, Jean E. (2003). Speaking in the medieval world. Brill. p. 27. ISBN 90-04-12955-3. 
  44. ^ Katherine Ludwig, Jansen (2001). The making of the Magdalen: preaching and popular devotion in the later Middle Ages. Princeton University Press. p. 168. ISBN 0-691-08987-6. 
  45. ^ Vossler, Karl; Spingarn, Joel Elias (1929). Mediæval Culture: The religious, philosophic, and ethico-political background of the "Divine Comedy". University of Michigan: Constable & company. p. 246. 
  46. ^ Orenstein, Nadine M., ed. (2001-09-01). Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Prints and Drawings. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9780300090147. 
  47. ^ Klein, H. Arthur (1963-01-01). Graphic Work of Peter Bruegel, the Elder: Reproducing 64 Engravings and a Woodcut After Designs By Peter Bruegel the Elder. (1st Edition / 1st Printing ed.). Dover Publications. 
  48. ^ "Paul Cadmus | The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride | The Metropolitan Museum of Art". www.metmuseum.org. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  49. ^ "THE SIMPSONS: "TREEHOUSE OF HORROR XVIII" REVIEW". 
  50. ^ F. Mount, Full Circle (2010) p. 302

Further reading[edit]

  • Tucker, Shawn. The Virtues and Vices in the Arts: A Sourcebook, (Eugene, OR: Cascade Press, 2015)
  • Schumacher, Meinolf (2005): "Catalogues of Demons as Catalogues of Vices in Medieval German Literature: 'Des Teufels Netz' and the Alexander Romance by Ulrich von Etzenbach." In In the Garden of Evil: The Vices and Culture in the Middle Ages. Edited by Richard Newhauser, pp. 277–290. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.
  • The Divine Comedy ("Inferno", "Purgatorio", and "Paradiso"), by Dante Alighieri
  • Summa Theologica, by Thomas Aquinas
  • The Concept of Sin, by Josef Pieper
  • The Traveller's Guide to Hell, by Michael Pauls & Dana Facaros
  • Sacred Origins of Profound Things, by Charles Panati
  • The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser
  • The Seven Deadly Sins Series, Oxford University Press (7 vols.)
  • Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, (Grand Rapids: BrazosPress, 2009)
  • Solomon Schimmel, The Seven Deadly Sins: Jewish, Christian, and Classical Reflections on Human Psychology, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997)
  • "Doctor Faustus" by Christopher Marlowe

External links[edit]