Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Evolution of the Seven Deadly Sins

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 the Lord hateth, and 7 that are an abomination unto Him:"
A proud look
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

Tableau de mission François Marie Balanant.  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 = pride).

The modern concept of the 7 deadly sins is linked to the works of the 4C monk Evagrius Ponticus, who listed 8 evil thoughts in Greek as follows:
Γαστριμαργία (gastrimargia) gluttony
Πορνεία (porneia) prostitution, fornication
Φιλαργυρία (philargyria) avarice
Ὑπερηφανία (hyperēphania) hubris – in the Philokalia, this term is rendered as self-esteem
Λύπη (lypē) sadness – in the Philokalia, this term is rendered as envy, sadness at another's good fortune
Ὀργή (orgē) wrath
Κενοδοξία (kenodoxia) boasting
Ἀκηδία (akēdia) acedia – in the Philokalia, this term is rendered as dejection

In AD 590, a little over 2 centuries after Evagrius wrote his list, Pope Gregory I revised this list to form the more common Seven Deadly Sins.
luxuria (lechery/lust)
gula (gluttony)
avaritia (avarice/greed)
acedia (sloth/discouragement)
ira (wrath)
invidia (envy)
superbia (pride)

Beginning in the early 14C, the popularity of the Seven Deadly Sins brought them to become a theme among European artists.