Seven Deadly Sins
Even if you know nothing about the supernatural, there’s a very high chance that you know about the seven deadly sins. I learned about them when I was about 12, and I’ve been obsessed with the concept ever since. I know, it’s weird, but I find them so intriguing. Don’t judge me.
A Greek theologian called Evagrius of Pontus first made a list of eight offenses and wicked human passions: gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia, vainglory, and pride.
Later, in the late 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great reduced the list to seven: pride, envy, anger, sadness, avarice, gluttony, and lust.
The seven deadly sins do appear in the Bible, but never as a list. They occur many times individually.
Dante Alighieri, a Catholic layman, wrote “The Divine Comedy,” which is actually three epic poems combined: “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradiso.” In “Purgatorio” Dante puts each of the sins on a level. The higher levels are closer to paradise, and lower levels are closer to hell. He organizes the sins based on their offenses against love.
The sins have influenced a lot of works other than “The Divine Comedy.” They are mentioned in the “Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer and “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe among others. Hollywood even took a stab at the sins in its thriller Seven.
There is still some variation in the exact names of the seven deadly sins. I’ve heard the individual sins called a few different sins, so I’m just going to explain them using the terms I learned.
Lust: Obsessive or excessive sexual thoughts and desires. Dante’s criterion was “excessive love of others,” thus putting love for God second. In Hell, the lustful are smothered in fire and brimstone.
Gluttony: The overindulgence and overconsumption of anything to the point of waste. In Christian religions, it is said to be a sin because of the excessive desire for food, which withholds food from the needy. In Hell, the gluttonous are force fed rats, toads, and snakes.
Greed: The excessive desire for material wealth. Avarice is another term that might be applied to this sin, but it is a term that can describe other forms of sin, as well. These include disloyalty, deliberate betrayal, and treason. In Hell, the greedy are boiled in oil.
Sloth: Acedia and sadness have also been used for this sin. Acedia is defined as a spiritual apathy that discourages a person form fulfilling his/her religious work. Sadness is simply a feeling of discontent which causes unhappiness with one’s current situation. Now, though, sloth is described as pure laziness, indifference, and unwillingness to act or care. It is seen as being considerably less serious than the other sins. In Hell, the lazy are thrown into snake pits.
Wrath: Uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. Wrath is the only sin not associated with selfishness and self-interest. In Hell, the angry are dismembered alive.
Envy: Characterized by an insatiable desire for things that others have, which they perceive themselves to be lacking. Dante said envy is a “love of one’s own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs.” In Hell, the envious are put in freezing water.
Pride: Almost always considered the original and more severe of the seven deadly sins. It is characterized by a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to give compliments, and excessive love of self. Probably the most well-known example of pride is Lucifer. His pride caused him to fall from Heaven and transform into Satan. In Hell, the prideful are broken on a wheel.
In Supernatural, they tackle the subject of the seven deadly sins, as well. In the wake of opening the Gate to Hell, Sam and Dean are attacked by a group of demons who embody the seven sins. In the end, as always, Sam and Dean come out victorious and the demons are sent back to hell.