Seven deadly sins  

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The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, are a classification of vices that were originally used in early Christian teachings to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen man's tendency to sin. The Roman 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.


Cultural references

The seven deadly sins have long been a source of inspiration for writers and artists, from morality tales of the Middle Ages to modern manga series and video games.

Menninger on the Deadly Sins

In his 1973 book, Whatever Became of Sin?, Karl Menninger argued that the traditional list of the seven deadly sins was incomplete; that most modern ethicists would include cruelty and dishonesty and probably would rate these as more serious than some of the more traditional sins such as gluttony or sadness.

Enneagram Integration

The Enneagram of Personality integrates the seven with two additional "sins", deceit and fear. The Enneagram descriptions are broader than the traditional Christian interpretation and are presented in a comprehensive map.

Literary works inspired by the seven deadly sins

  • John Climacus (7th century) in The Ladder of Divine Ascent places victory over the eight thoughts as individual steps of the thirty-step ladder: wrath (8), vainglory (10, 22), sadness (13), gluttony (14), lust (15), greed (16, 17), acedia (18), and pride (23).
  • Dante's (1265–1321) The Divine Comedy is a three-part work composed of "Inferno", "Purgatorio", and "Paradiso". "Inferno" divides Hell into nine concentric circles, four of which directly correspond to some of the deadly sins (Circle 2 to lust, 3 to gluttony, 4 to greed, and 5 to wrath, as well as sloth). The punishment of these two sins take place in the Stygian lake, the wrathful being punished atop the lake, attacking one another with the various members of their person, including fangs. The slothful are punished underneath the lake breathing sighs in bubbles, singing a dolorous song, as told by Virgil in Canto VII. The remaining circles do not neatly map onto the seven sins. In "Purgatorio", Mount Purgatory is scaled in seven levels and follows the sin sequence of Aquinas (starting with pride).
  • William Langland's (c. 1332–1386) Vision of Piers Plowman is structured around a series of dreams that are critical of contemporary errors while encouraging godly living. The sins are mentioned in this order: proud (pride; Passus V, lines 62–71), lechour (lecherousness; V. 71–74), envye (envy; V. 75–132), wrathe (wrath; V. 133–185), coveitise (covetousness; V. 186–306), glutton (gluttony; V. 307–385), sleuthe (sloth; V. 386–453) (using the B-text).Template:Clarify
  • John Gower's (1330–1408) Confessio Amantis centres on a confession by Amans ("the Lover") to Genius, the chaplain of the goddess Venus. Following confessional practice of the time, the confession is structured around the seven deadly sins, though focuses on his sins against the rules of courtly love.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer's (c. 1340–1400) Canterbury Tales features the seven deadly sins in The Parson's Tale: pride (paragraphs 24–29), envy (30–31), wrath (32–54), sloth (55–63), greed (64–70), gluttony (71–74), lust (75–84).
  • Christopher Marlowe's (1564–1593) The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus shows Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Mephistophiles coming from hell to show Dr. Fastus "some pastime" (Act II, Scene 2). The sins present themselves, in order: pride, greed, envy, wrath, gluttony, sloth, lust.
  • Edmund Spenser's (1552–1599), The Faerie Queene addresses the seven deadly sins in "Book I (The Legend of the Knight of the Red Cross, Holiness)": vanity/pride (Canto IV, stanzas 4–17), idleness/sloth (IV. 18-20), gluttony (IV. 21-23), lechery/lust (IV. 24-26), avarice/greed (IV. 27-29), envy (IV. 30-32), wrath (IV. 33-35).
  • Garth Nix's "The Keys to the Kingdom" is a seven-book children's series in which the main nemesis of each book is afflicted by one of the seven deadly sins.
  • Dale E Basye's series starting with Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go contains one deadly sin in each book.
  • A collection of Star Trek stories, Star Trek: Seven Deadly Sins, was recently released. It contains seven short novels, which link each deadly sin to a major Trek race: the Romulans (Pride), Borg (Gluttony), Klingons (Anger), Pakleds (Sloth), the Mirror Universe (Lust), the Ferengi (Greed), and the Cardassians (Envy).

Art and music

Film, television, radio, comic books and video games

  • There was a series of seven silent films made in 1917 that bore the series title, The Seven Deadly Sins, which began with Envy (1917), continued with Pride (1917), Greed (1917), Sloth (1917), Passion (1917), and Wrath (1917), and concluded with the synonymously titled The Seventh Sin (1917). The final installment was given that title because Gluttony was considered too offensive, and the producers couldn't come up with an adequate synonym.
  • The film The Devil's Nightmare is about a succubus who kills a group of tourists who are each guilty of one of the seven sins.
  • The original version of the film Bedazzled (1967) (remade in 2000) includes all seven sins; Raquel Welch as (Lillian) Lust, Barry Humphries as Envy, Alba as Vanity, Robert Russell as Anger, Parnell McGarry as Gluttony, Daniele Noel as Avarice, and Howard Goorney as Sloth.
  • In the film Se7en (1995), written by Andrew Kevin Walker, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, a mysterious serial killer punishes transgressors of each of the deadly sins through his crimes.
  • The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971) is a British film built around a series of comedy sketches on the seven deadly sins, and referencing the classic Western film The Magnificent Seven.
  • In the video game Overlord, the seven heroes that the protagonist must defeat are based on the seven sins.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins (traditionally given as "The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man") figure prominently in the mythos of Fawcett/DC Comics superhero Captain Marvel, and have appeared several times as supervillains in recent DC Comics publications.
  • In the manga and anime Digimon, the Seven Great Demon Lords, each of whom represent one of the sins, are a major group of antagonists.
  • In the manga and anime Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, the member of Varia each match one of the Seven Deadly Sins, their Latin names, or the respective demons of the sins.
  • In the manga and anime Fullmetal Alchemist, each sin is used as the name of each member of a group of powerful false humans called "homunculi", with each homunculi's personality being based on the sin he or she is named after.
  • In the videogame Devil May Cry 3, the seven deadly sins are represented by a group of common enemies, as well as by seven infernal bells. Fallen angels that personify the sins are also featured heavily in the prequel manga, in which they are important in summoning the bell-containing tower in the first place.
  • In the Philippines TV series Lastikman each major villain represents one of the deadly sins.
  • In the Norwegian TV show De syv dødssyndene (The Seven Deadly Sins), Christopher Schau attempts to invoke the wrath of God by carrying out each of the seven deadly sins. When Schau was talking about the show on the talk show Senkveld (Late Night), he said "If I don't end up in Hell, then there is no Hell." The program caused a great deal of public debate surrounding the issue of censorship.
  • In Matt Fraction's comic book Casanova, the series' issues are named, in Latin, for each of the seven sins, beginning with Luxuria.
  • Rengoku II: The Stairway to Heaven is based around eight levels of a tower, seven named after the sins, the eighth being Paradise.
  • In the webcomic Jack, the seven sins are personified by anthropomorphs. The main character, Jack, represents the sin of Wrath.
  • Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better fits the sins into a six part BBC radio series, with Greed and Gluttony combined as the 'similar sins'.
  • In Knight Online's Bifrost are monsters that can hunt for Fragments of the seven sins. Fragments can be turned into unique items, or collected to gain access to the chamber of Ultima.
  • In 11eyes, the Black Knights are named Avaritia, Ira, Invidia, Acedia, Gula, and Superbia.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the Seven Stakes of Purgatory are named after Peter Binsfeld's temptor demons and propagate or embody a deadly sin. Their ages follow the order of Purgatorio, Lucifer (Pride) being the eldest and Asmodeus (Lust) the youngest.
  • In Grand Fantasia, there are daily bosses based on the seven deadly sins.


  • Kansas State University geography research associate Thomas Vought presented his study “The Spatial Distribution of the Seven Deadly Sins Within Nevada”. In addition, the study covers some 3,000 counties across the country, and includes the interactive maps of sin distribution across the U.S.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Seven deadly sins" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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