The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of objectionable vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning fallen humanity’s tendency to sin. The currently recognized version of the list is usually given as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. The Deadly Sins do not belong to an additional category of sin. Rather, they are the sins that are seen as the origin (“capital” comes from the Latin caput, head) of the other sins. A “deadly sin” can be either venial or mortal, depending on the situation; but they are called ‘capital’ because they are supposed to engender other sins, other vices. The Roman Catholic Church also recognizes seven virtues, which correspond inversely to each of the seven deadly sins: chastity (vs. lust); temperance (vs gluttony); charity (vs. greed); diligence (vs. sloth); patience (vs. wrath); kindness (vs. envy); humility (vs. pride).
According to Binsfeld’s classification of demons, the pairings are as follows
- Lucifer: Pride (superbia)
- Mammon: Greed (avaritia)
- Asmodeus: Lust (luxuria)
- Leviathan: Envy (invidia)
- Beelzebub: Gluttony (gula or gullia)
- Satan/Amon: Wrath (ira)
- Belphegor: Sloth (acedia)
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 a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power. 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, 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. As defined outside of Christian writings, greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs, especially with respect to material wealth.
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