The Seven Deadly Sins

This probably should have been posted before the others. [Original article]


In Christian ethics, the seven deadly sins are a group of vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate Christians about fallen humanity’s tendency to sin. In the currently recognized version, the seven sins are gluttony, envy, lust, pride, sloth, greed, and wrath.

The Catholic Church divides sin into two categories: venial sins and mortal sins. Venial sins are considered lesser, forgivable sins that do not cause complete separation from God. Mortal sins are severe sins that cause complete dislocation from the grace of God, insuring damnation unless forgiven.

In Catholic thought, the seven deadly sins are not distinct from other sins, but are rather the origin of all sins. They are sometimes called the capital sins, which in Latin means the “head” of all the others. Almost every sin can be categorized into one of these seven.

The origin of the concept of seven capital sins is linked to the work of Evagrius Ponticus, a 4th century monk. Evagrius listed in Greek eight evil thoughts: gastrimargia, porneia, philargyria, hyperēphania, lypē, orgē, kenodoxia, akēdia. Respectively these are gluttony, prostitution, greed, hubris, sadness, wrath, boasting, and dejection.

In AD 590, Pope Gregory I revised the list into the seven deadly sins. He combined sorrow, despair, and despondency into acedia (sloth), vainglory (hubris) into pride, and added envy. This new order became the standard and was used by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy. His epic poem was an allegorical vision of the afterlife, and is considered a culmination of the medieval world-view as it had formed in the Western Church. Since these times were when the concept of seven deadly sins was developing, we will return to Dante and his work for each sin.

Each of the seven deadly sins has an opposite corresponding virtue. In parallel order to the sins they oppose, they are:

Temperance – Gluttony
Kindness – Envy
Chastity – Lust
Humility – Pride
Diligence – Sloth
Charity – Greed
Patience – Wrath

Over the past few weeks I have explored each of the virtues from the perspective of different religions. Now I will turn to look at the other side: the seven deadly sins.

Lewis F.

One thought on “The Seven Deadly Sins

  1. Pingback: No good works where pride abides | Monastic Musings Too

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