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The Seven Virtues were derived from the Psychomachia ('Contest of the Soul'), an epic poem written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (c. 410) entailing the battle of good virtues and evil vices. The intense popularity of this work in the Middle Ages helped to spread the concept of Holy Virtue throughout Europe. Practicing these virtues is alleged to protect one against temptation from the Seven Deadly Sins, with each one having its counterpart. There are two distinct variations of the virtues, recognised by different groups.

The VirtuesEdit

Ranked in ascending order of sanctity, the seven holy virtues are:

  • Chastity (Latin, virtus) (courage, opposes lust, Latin luxuria) —
    Courage and boldness. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought through education and betterment.
  • Liberality (Latin, liberalis) (will, opposes greed, Latin avaritia) —
    Generosity. Willingness to give. A nobility of thought or actions.
  • Abstinence (Latin, frenum) (self-control, opposes gluttony, Latin gula) —
    Constant mindfulness of others and one's surroundings; practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation.
  • Diligence (Latin, industria) (ethics, opposes sloth, Latin acedia) —
    A zealous and careful nature in one's actions and work. Decisive work ethic.
  • Patience (Latin, patientia) (peace, opposes wrath, Latin ira) —
    Forebearance and endurance through moderation.
  • Kindness (Latin, humanitas) (satisfaction, opposes envy, Latin invidia) —
    Charity, compassion, friendship, and sympathy without prejudice.
  • Humility (Latin, humilitas) (modesty, opposes pride, Latin superbia) —
    modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect.

Theocracy Edit

Restraint is the keystone of the seven holy virtues. The other holy virtues are created through selfless pursuits:

  • Valour — Pursuit of Courage and Knowledge
  • Generosity — Pursuit of Will
  • Diligence — Pursuit of Ethics
  • Patience — Pursuit of Peace
  • Kindness — Pursuit of Charity
  • Humility — Pursuit of Modesty

Several of these virtues interlink, and various attempts at causal hierarchy have been made. For example, restraint is implied in patience, as well as patience, humility, and most of the others. Each sin is a particular way of applying heroic attributes. The Scholastic theologians developed schema of attribute and substance of will to explain these virtues.

Roman Catholic VirtuesEdit

The Roman Catholic church recognises the seven virtues as opposites to the seven sins. According to Dante's The Divine Comedy the sins have an order of greatness, shown below from lowest to highest.

Sin Virtue
Lust (inappropriate desire) Chastity (purity)
Gluttony (over-indulgence) Moderation (self-restraint)
Greed (avarice) Generosity (vigilance)
Sloth (laziness) Zeal (enthusiasm)
Wrath (anger) Meekness (composure)
Envy (jealousy) Charity (giving)
Pride (vanity) Humility (humbleness)

Cardinal and Theological VirtuesEdit

Another list of the Seven Virtues consists of a combination of the four Cardinal Virtues and the three Theological Virtues:

  • Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude
  • Faith, Hope, and Love (charity)

This formulation shows clearly the combination of Greek virtues (the Cardinal Virtues, found in Plato, for example) with Christian virtues (found in 1 Corinthians 13). These virtues do not line up so nicely as opposites to the Seven Deadly Sins, but are commonly referenced as the Seven Virtues.

This allowed non-Christians to base their behaviour on moral tenets other than those prescribed by Christians. In medieval ideology, only a Christian would have faith in God, look forward to a life after death and caritas, be able to carry out acts of charity towards fellow men based solely on love of God. [1]

References Edit

zh:七美德 pt:sete virtudes sv:De sju dygderna

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