Seven deadly sins
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For other uses, see Seven deadly sins (disambiguation) and Cardinal sin (disambiguation).
Hieronymus Bosch's The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things.The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, are a classification of the most objectionable vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen man's tendency to sin. They are: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.
The Catholic Church divided sin into two principal categories: "venial", which are relatively minor, and could be forgiven through any sacramentals or sacraments of the church, and the more severe "capital" or mortal sin. Mortal sins destroyed the life of grace, and created the threat of eternal damnation unless either absolved through the sacrament of confession, or forgiven through perfect contrition on the part of the penitent.
Beginning in the early 14th century, the popularity of the seven deadly sins as a theme among European artists of the time eventually helped to ingrain them in many areas of Christian culture and Christian consciousness in general throughout the world. One means of such ingraining was the creation of the mnemonic "SALIGIA" based on the first letters in Latin of the seven deadly sins: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, acedia.
1 Historic Lists of Sins
1.1 Biblical Lists
1.2 Development of the Traditional Seven Sins
2 The sins
3 Catholic virtues
4 Associations with demons
5 Modern sins
6 Cultural references
6.1 Enneagram Integration
6.2 Literary works inspired by the seven deadly sins
6.3 Art and music
6.4 Film, television, comic books and video games
8 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
 Historic Lists of Sins
In the Book of Proverbs, it is stated that the Lord specifically regards "six things the Lord hateth, and the seventh His soul detesteth." namely:
A lying tongue
Hands that shed innocent blood
A heart that devises wicked plots
Feet that are swift to run into mischief
A deceitful witness that uttereth lies
Him that soweth discord among brethren
While there are seven of them, this list is considerably different to the traditional one, the only sin on both lists being pride. Another list of bad things, given this time by the Epistle to the Galatians, includes more of the traditional seven sins, although the list is substantially longer: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, "and such like".
Development of the Traditional Seven Sins
The modern concept of the Seven Deadly Sins is linked to the works of the 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus, who listed eight evil thoughts, in Latin, as follows:
Fornicatio (fornication, lust)
These 'evil thoughts' can be broken down into three groups:
lustful appetite (Gluttony, Fornication, and Avarice)
intellect (Vainglory, Sorrow, Pride, and Discouragement)
In 590 AD, some years after Ponticus, Pope Gregory I revised this list to form the more common Seven Deadly Sins, by folding sorrow into despair, vainglory into pride, and adding extravagance and envy, while removing fornication from the list. In the order used by both Pope Gregory and by Dante Alighieri in his epic poem The Divine Comedy, the seven deadly sins are as follows:
The identification and definition of the seven deadly sins over their history has been a fluid process and the idea of what each of the seven actually encompasses has evolved over time. Additionally, as a result of semantic change:
cupida (lust) was substituted for luxuria in all but name
socordia (sloth) was substituted for acedia
This process of change has been aided by the fact that the personality traits are not collectively referred to, in either a cohesive or codified manner, by the Bible itself; other literary and ecclesiastical works were instead consulted, as sources from which definitions might be drawn. Part II of Dante's Divine Comedy, Purgatorio, has almost certainly been the best known source since the Renaissance.
The modern Roman Catholic Catechism lists the sins as: "pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth/acedia".. Each of the seven deadly sins now also has an opposite among corresponding seven holy virtues (sometimes also referred to as the contrary virtues). In parallel order to the sins they oppose, the seven holy virtues are chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.
Main article: Extravagance
Extravagance (Latin, luxuria) is unrestrained excess. Extravagant behaviour includes the frequent purchase of luxury goods, and forms of debauchery.
In the Romance languages, the cognates of luxuria (the latin name of the sin) evolved to have an exclusively sexual meaning; the Old French cognate was adopted into English as luxury, but this lost its sexual meaning by the 14th century. The church found it more practical and politically expedient to allow this more restricted interpretation to become dominant, resulting in lust replacing extravagance in the list.
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Main article: Lust
Lust (Latin, Cupidita), or lechery, is usually thought of as excessive thoughts or desires of a sexual nature. Dante's criterion was excessive love of others, which therefore rendered love and devotion to God as secondary.
Giving in to lusts can lead to sexual or sociological compulsions and/or transgressions including (but not limited to) sexual addiction, fornication, adultery, bestiality, rape, perversion, and incest. In Dante's Purgatorio, the penitent walks within flames to purge himself of lustful/sexual thoughts and feelings.
Main article: Gluttony
(Albert Anker, 1896)Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. In the Christian religions, it is considered a sin because of the excessive desire for food, or its withholding from the needy.
Depending on the culture, it can be seen as either a vice or a sign of status. Where food is relatively scarce, being able to eat well might be something to take pride in (although this can also result in a moral backlash when confronted with the reality of those less fortunate). Where food is routinely plentiful, it may be considered a sign of self-control to resist the temptation to over-indulge.
Medieval church leaders (e.g., Thomas Aquinas) took a more expansive view of gluttony, arguing that it could also include an obsessive anticipation of meals, and the constant eating of delicacies and excessively costly foods. Aquinas went so far as to prepare a list of six ways to commit gluttony, including:
Praepropere - eating too soon.
Laute - eating too expensively (washedly).
Nimis - eating too much.
Ardenter - eating too eagerly (burningly).
Studiose - eating too daintily (keenly).
Forente - eating wildly (boringly).
Main article: Greed
Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to the acquisition of wealth in particular. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that greed was "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. "Avarice" is more of a blanket term that can describe many other examples of greedy behavior. These include disloyalty, deliberate betrayal, or treason,[citations needed] especially for personal gain, for example through bribery . Scavenging and 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 profits from soliciting goods within the actual confines of a church.
Main article: Acedia
Acedia (Latin, acedia) is apathetic listlessness; depression without joy. It is similar to melancholy, although acedia describes the behaviour, while melancholy suggests the emotion producing it. In early Christian thought, the lack of joy was regarded as a wilful refusal to enjoy the goodness of God and the world God created; by contrast, the apathy was regarded as a spiritual affliction that discouraged people from their religious work.
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.
Main article: Despair
Despair (Latin, Tristitia) describes a feeling of dissatisfaction or discontent, which causes unhappiness with one's current situation. Since unhappiness inherently results from the sin, the sin was sometimes referred to as sadness. Since sadness often results in acedia, Pope Gregory's revision of the list subsumed Despair into Acedia.
SlothMain article: Sloth (deadly sin)
Gradually, the focus came to be on the consequences of acedia, rather than the cause, and so, by the 17th century, the exact deadly sin referred to was believed to the failure to utilize one's talents and gifts. In practice, it came to be closer to sloth (Latin, Socordia) than acedia. Even in Dante's time there were signs of this change; in his Purgatorio he had portrayed the penance for acedia as running continuously at top speed.
The modern view goes further, regarding laziness and indifference as the sin at the heart of the matter. Since this contrasts with a more wilful failure to, for example, love God and his works, sloth often seen as being considerably less serious than the other sins, more a sin of omission than of commission.
The sloth, a South American mammal, was named after this sin by Roman Catholic explorers.
Main article: Wrath
Wrath (Latin, ira), also known as anger or "rage", may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. These feelings can manifest as vehement denial of the truth, both to others and in the form of self-denial, impatience with the procedure of law, and the desire to seek revenge outside of the workings of the justice system (such as engaging in vigilantism) and generally wishing to do evil or harm to others. The transgressions borne of vengeance are among the most serious, including murder, assault, and in extreme cases, genocide. 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). Dante described vengeance as "love of justice perverted to revenge and spite". In its original form, the sin of wrath also encompassed anger pointed internally rather than externally. Thus suicide was deemed as the ultimate, albeit tragic, expression of wrath directed inwardly, a final rejection of God's gifts.
Main article: Envy
Like greed, Envy (Latin, invidia) may be characterized by an insatiable desire; they differ, however, for two main reasons. First, greed is largely associated with material goods, whereas envy may apply more generally. Second, those who commit the sin of envy resent that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking, and wish the other person to be deprived of it. Dante defined this as "love of one's own good perverted to 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".
Main article: Pride
In almost every list Pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor." In 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. In perhaps the best-known example, the story of Lucifer, pride (his desire to compete with God) was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the penitents were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs in order to induce feelings of humility.
Main article: Vainglory
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, of irrelevent accuracy, that it retains today. 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).
The Roman Catholic Church also recognizes Seven Virtues which correspond inversely to each of the seven deadly sins.