Friday, November 18, 2011

Historical Sin

The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things is a painting attributed to Hieronymus Bosch, completed around 1500 or later. The painting is oil on wood panels. The painting is presented in a series of circular images.
Four small circles, detailing "Death of the sinner", "Judgement", "Hell", and "Glory", surround a larger circle in which the seven deadly sins are depicted: wrath at the bottom, then (proceeding clockwise) envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, extravagance (later, lust), and pride in scenes from everyday life rather than allegorical representations of the sins.[1]
At the centre of the large circle, which is said to represent the eye of God, is a "pupil" in which Christ can be seen emerging from his tomb. Below this image is the Latin inscription Cave Cave Deus Videt ("Beware, Beware, God Sees").
Above and Below the central image are inscription in Latin of Deuteronomy 32:28-29, containing the lines "For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them," above, and "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" below.
"Hieronymus, or Jerome, Bosch, b. c.1450, d. August 1516, spent his entire artistic career in the small Dutch town of Hertogenbosch, from which he derived his name.
At the time of his death, Bosch was internationally celebrated as an eccentric painter of religious visions who dealt in particular with the torments of hell. During his lifetime Bosch's works were in the inventories of noble families of the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, and they were imitated in a number of paintings and prints throughout the 16th century, especially in the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
Bosch was a member of the religious Brotherhood of Our Lady, for whom he painted several altarpieces for the Cathedral of Saint John's, Hertogenbosch, all of which are now lost. The artist probably never went far from home, although records exist of a commission in 1504 from Philip the Handsome (later king of Castile), for a lost Last Judgment altarpiece. None of Bosch's pictures are dated, although the artist signed many of them. "  (from

Deadly Sin * **
Opposing Virtue
Brief description
(1) (18%)
Humility Seeing ourselves as we are and not comparing ourselves to others is humility. Pride and vanity are competitive. If someone else's pride really bothers you, you have a lot of pride.
(5) (5%)
Generosity This is about more than money. Generosity means letting others get the credit or praise. It is giving without having expectations of the other person. Greed wants to get its "fair share" or a bit more.
(2) (5%)
Love "Love is patient, love is kind…" Love actively seeks the good of others for their sake. Envy resents the good others receive or even might receive. Envy is almost indistinguishable from pride at times.
(3) (20%)
Kindness Kindness means taking the tender approach, with patience and compassion. Anger is often our first reaction to the problems of others. Impatience with the faults of others is related to this.
(7) (31%)
Self control Self control and self mastery prevent pleasure from killing the soul by suffocation. Legitimate pleasures are controlled in the same way an athlete's muscles are: for maximum efficiency without damage. Lust is the self-destructive drive for pleasure out of proportion to its worth. Sex, power, or image can be used well, but they tend to go out of control.
(6) (8%)
Faith and Temperance Temperance accepts the natural limits of pleasures and preserves this natural balance. This does not pertain only to food, but to entertainment and other legitimate goods, and even the company of others.
(4) (13%)
Zeal Zeal is the energetic response of the heart to God's commands. The other sins work together to deaden the spiritual senses so we first become slow to respond to God and then drift completely into the sleep of complacency.
* Numbers in parenthesis indicate position in Dante. ** Percentages indicate results of our poll as of October 25, 2009.

Sadness was once a sin, but it was combined with Sloth years ago.

There are consequences if you wander from the path (when they occur is not specified but I would think that they are not immediate or your friends might start disappearing):

     Sin                                            Punishment

Pride                                            Broken on Wheel
Greed/Avarice                              Boiling Oil
Envy                                            Freezing Water
Lust                                             Smothered in Fire
Sloth                                           Snake Pits
Wrath/Anger                                Dismemberment Alive
Gluttony                                     Forced to Eat Snake, Toad, Rat

These punishments seem harsh but I guess if you want to keep the "nation void of counsel"   in line you have to scare them into compliance.



  1. Control through fear, indeed.

  2. Interesting post .... I'm glad the punishments aren't doled out to us here in modern times - I mean who would be left standing ??? Yes, the paintings remind me of Bruegel's allegorical paintings.


  3. So, basically, you get tortured. They are the seven torture-earning sins!

    Also, I take issue with the notion that envy and love are virtue and counter-virtue.

    Envy, at its extreme, involves love to be full.

    I would suggest that "there but for the Grace of God go I" might be more like the opposite of envy. I realize that a phrase should not oppose a word, though, so I will call the opposite of envy this: "congratulating".

  4. Interesting post. Lust is not really a sin, is it ?!!

  5. I'm in trouble, I've knocked about most of those sins one time or another.

  6. Curious days prior to the Enlightenment I tend to prefer the secular works of that period as they were not moderated by religious delusions dreamt up by some pope or book writer expounding on some obscure passage found in a sacred text.

    what I find funniest of all--and I do mean hilarious funny--most religious thinking of Christianity especially has not evolved more than a pace or two away from there.

  7. that painting is awesome..
    these cardinal sins are often mentioned in classic literature though I wonder if even in olden times the sinners were tortured as decreed. And then isn't penitence and forgiveness a virtue in every religion? So am sure some of these sins would be condonable .. :)

    btw, very interesting post.. sins and sinners intrigue everyone.

  8. Thanks for this very interesting post. I think I've committed all of them...good grief!

    I love, love, love the painting...thanks for posting it. Bosch had such talent, even if I don't agree with his depictions of hell. xx

  9. interesting......!!

  10. Ever the spirit of man defined and/or confined... acceptable or punishable ... and once the innocence of childhood... thought provoking post... Thank You.