In today’s post we will discuss the seven deadly sins, also known as the seven cardinal sins, in Christianity, namely, lust, gluttony, greed (avarice), sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Let us get right into it, here is everything you should know about the seven deadly sins, symbols, animals and colors representing them.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Origin and Religious Connotations
The history of the seven deadly sins is linked with religion, to be exact, Christianity. The list can be traced back to the fourth century when a Christian monk named Evagrius Ponticus categorized vices into eight temptations: lust, greed, gluttony, despondency, vainglory, and anger, sadness, and pride.
The list of seven deadly sins evolved in the sixth century when Pope Gregory I was inspired by Ponticus to produce his own list, which St. Thomas Aquinas supplemented to compile the modern version consisting of pride, greed, lust, gluttony, wrath, envy, and sloth.
While these sins are not categorized in the Bible, there are references to the ill-effects of individual vices. Christian denominations consider the seven deadly sins as capital or cardinal sins, which correspond to a list of seven heavenly virtues. The sins outline general principles of avoidance to lead a virtuous life, and they have been portrayed in art and literature for centuries due to their universal appeal.
Lust is the foundation of desire, and it is considered a state of overwhelming sexual or physical longing. This carnal desire can bring out the animal in a person and lead to fornication, including rape, adultery, and bestiality if it is not kept under check.
Lust can also be applied to otherworldly desires and possessions such as power or wealth that blind the believer to the path of righteousness. The state of lust involves desire and an intense yearning for pleasure, satisfaction which includes satiating one’s curiosity.
The animal associated with lust is the goat which is known for its association with the Devil. It has also been associated with fertility, virility, and sexual energy in both genders. The color associated with lust is blue, which is the color of the ocean that is all-encompassing.
See our detailed article on the Lust Symbols and comparison with the other seven deadly sins.
Gluttony is related to overconsumption and excessive indulgence, most commonly associated with eating food and drinking to the point of waste and excess. While this sin is primarily linked with edible items, it can extend to indulging in other material objects that invoke pleasure without restraint.
There are forms of gluttony outlined by Aquinas, which include: eating lavishly, eating in a finicky manner, gorging oneself on food, eating too soon, and eating with excessive fervor.
Gluttony has the capability to overwhelm the consumer and set them astray from the path of righteousness by making consumption the main purpose of their lives, disregarding their duties and obligations.
The animal associated with gluttony is the pig, as they will eat as long as there is food presented to them as their appetite is never satiated. The color associated with gluttony is orange as it stimulates the brain and encourages hunger, which is also why it is heavily used in restaurants and food marketing.
Greed is the next item on our list of seven deadly sins. It is also known as avarice, and the term is associated with desire similar to lust and gluttony, but it is primarily applied to tangible and material possessions as it is an all-consuming desire to have the most of any temporal object.
In the pursuit of desire, greed disregards the spirit of sharing and brotherhood by focusing on hoarding, manipulation, and even violence to acquire worldly possessions by selfish means. Greed allows individuals to become spiteful by disregarding the community’s needs and welfare. It is a sin that can never be satisfied as the individual always wants more.
The animal closely associated with greed is the toad, as their desire to live on land and in the water represents their need to possess both territories. The color linked to greed is yellow, which mirrors the color of gold, representing worldly desire and wealth.
Sloth is related to idleness and being intentionally lazy or unproductive when individuals choose to let their lives pass by without actively making an effort to establish and achieve worldly and spiritual goals.
Commonly associated with a lack of exertion, this sin causes a lack of ambition and promotes procrastination, relaxation and is the opposite of hard work. It is linked to the failure of individuals to realize the blessings of the divine.
The animal associated with sloth is the snail which has an extremely slow pace, and it spends its time hiding from the Sun, which is a representation of enlightenment. They are even capable of hibernating for years. Light blue is the color associated with sloth as it is a light and sleepy color that also represents daydreaming.
Wrath is defined by uncontrollable anger and rage, which can invoke feelings of vengeance and it can often lead to violent outcomes such as injury and death.
While anger is a common human emotion, it becomes incredibly detrimental when it becomes wrath. The effects are directed at an individual and can cause permanent damage.
The lion is associated with wrath, as they are considered vengeful animals that hold grudges even in their own packs. The color red is closely linked with wrath as it is the embodiment of heat, fire, and fury, making it a dangerous color.
Envy is caused by jealousy or coveting traits and possessions of other people. This sin can sow discord and dissent in individuals’ hearts, which can drive a wedge between them and their humanity, which can be observed through the murder of Cain by his brother Abel because of envy.
The snake is linked with envy because of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, where the snake envied their lives and caused their downfall. The color green is associated with envy as it is considered a sickly color associated with bitterness for others being more fortunate.
The final item on our list of seven deadly sins is pride. Pride is the source of arrogance as it encourages individuals to place themselves and their achievements on a pedestal. This overconfidence is considered a serious offense as it discourages humbleness and can even lead individuals to challenge the divinity of God by inflating the ego and having a higher opinion of oneself.
The peacock is the animal linked with pride as they extravagantly display their plumage to attract their mate with unbridled confidence. Pride is associated with the color violet as it is the color of royalty and regality that is used to establish superiority.