Seven deadly sins

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Cardinal Sin redirects here. If you are looking for the former Archbishop of Manila, see Jaime Cardinal Sin.

The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, suggest a classification of vices and were enumerated in their present form by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions them as "capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great."[1] (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm#1866) "Capital" here means that these sins stand at the head (Latin caput) of the other sins which proceed from them, e.g., theft proceeding from avarice and adultery from lust.

The sins were first introduced when Greek monastic theologian Evagrius of Pontus drew up a list of eight offenses and wicked human passions. They were, in order of increasing severity: gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia, vainglory, and pride. Evagrius saw the escalating severity as representing increasing fixation with the self, with pride as the most egregious of the sins. Acedia (from the Greek "akedia," or "not to care") denoted "spiritual sloth."

In the late 6th century, St. Gregory the Great reduced the list to seven items, folding vainglory into pride, acedia into sadness, and adding envy. His ranking of the Sins' seriousness was based on the degree from which they offended against love. It was, from most serious to least: pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and lust. Later theologians, most notably Thomas Aquinas, would contradict the notion that the seriousness of the sins could be ranked in this way.

The opposite of these sins are the seven virtues (humility, meekness, charity, chastity, moderation, zeal and generosity).

The capital sins are not to be confused with mortal sins.

Ranked in ascending order of severity (worst sins listed last) as per Dante's Divine Comedy (in the Purgatorio), the seven deadly sins are:

  • lust — unlawful sexual desire, such as desiring sex with a person one is not married to (fornication). (Dante's criterion was "excessive love of others," thereby detracting from the love due God). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, lust is referred to as luxuria.
  • gluttony — wasting of food, either through overindulgence in food, drink or intoxicants, misplaced desire for food for its sensuality, or withholding food from the needy ("excessive love of pleasure" was Dante's rendering). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, gluttony is referred to as gula.
  • avarice (covetousness, greed) — a desire to possess more than one has need or use for (or, according to Dante, "excessive love of money and power"). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, avarice is referred to as avaritia.
  • others have to work harder
  • it is disadvantageous for oneself, because useful work does not get done
  • an equilibrium: one does not produce much, but one does not need much either (in Dante's theology, sloth is the "failure to love God with all one's heart, all one's mind, and all one's soul" - specific examples including laziness, cowardice, lack of imagination, complacency, and irresponsibility).
In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, sloth is referred to as acedia.
  • wrath (anger) — inappropriate (unrighteous) feelings of hatred, revenge or even denial, as well as punitive desires outside of justice (Dante's description was "love of justice perverted to revenge and spite"). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, wrath is referred to as ira.
  • envy (jealousy); resentment of others for their possessions (Dante: "Love of one's own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs"). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, envy is referred to as invidia.
  • pride (vanity) — a desire to be important or attractive to others or excessive love of self (holding self out of proper position toward God or fellows; Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor"). In the Latin lists of the Seven Deadly Sins, pride is referred to as superbia.

Several of these sins interlink, and various attempts at causal hierarchy have been made. For example, pride (love of self out of proportion) is implied in gluttony (the over-consumption or waste of food), as well as sloth, envy, and most of the others. Each sin is a particular way of failing to love God with all one's resources and to love fellows as much as self. The Scholastic theologians developed schema of attribute and substance of will to explain these sins.

The 4th century Egyptian monk Evagrius Ponticus defined the sins as eight deadly "passions", and in Eastern Orthodoxy, these impulses are still characterized as "deadly passions" rather than sins in and of themselves. Instead, to invite and entertain or to refuse to attempt resistance against these passions is considered sinful in Orthodox Christian moral theology.

In the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, consisting of 2,865 numbered sections and first published in 1992 by order of Pope John Paul II, the seven deadly sins are dealt with in one paragraph. The principal codification of moral transgression for Christians continues to be the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes, which are a positive statement of morality.

The four cardinal virtues and three theological virtues together form the seven virtues.

As was previously mentioned, the Latin words for the sins are: superbia, invidia, ira, accidia, avaritia, gula and luxuria. The first letters of these words (with the order changed) form the medieval Latin word saligia, whence the verb saligiare (to commit a deadly sin) is taken.

Associations with demons

In 1589, Peter Binsfeld paired each of the deadly sins with a demon, who tempted people by means of the associated sin. According to Binsfeld's classification of demons, the pairings are as follows:

In modern popular culture

The "Seven Deadly Sins" (Die sieben Todsnden) is the name of a 1933 Kurt Weill / Bertolt Brecht / George Balanchine collaboration. It was originally sung by Lotte Leyna and danced by Tilly Losch.

The album Heaven and Hell by Joe Jackson is a modern musical interpretation of the seven deadly sins.

The movie Se7en is about a serial killer obsessed with the seven deadly sins.

Author Robert Clark Young used the seven deadly sins in his novel One of the Guys.

The seven deadly sins were also occasionally referenced in the Captain Marvel comic-book franchise by seven statues ("The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man") displayed at the Rock of Eternity, home of the wizard Shazam. The seven statues house powerful demons, who Shazam trapped in the statues in 1955.

In 2004, Mezco Toys marketed a range of Living Dead Dolls after the seven deadly sins.

Villains in the anime Fullmetal Alchemist are named after the seven deadly sins.

"Seven Deadly Sins" is a 1990 song by the rock and roll supergroup Traveling Wilburys.

External links

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