Seven virtues

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There are 3 Theological virtues, and 4 Cardinal virtues. The seven virtues are a set of seven cardinal virtues defined by Plato and Aristotle and adopted by the Church Fathers.


[edit] Cardinal and theological virtues

The seven virtues of Christian theology consist of a combination of the four Cardinal virtues and the three Theological virtues.

Type Virtue Meaning
Cardinal Prudence proper judgment of reasons for action with regard to appropriateness in a context
Cardinal Justice proper judgment regarding individual human interests, rights and deserts
Cardinal Restraint or Temperance practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation
Cardinal Courage or Fortitude forbearance, endurance, and ability to confront fear and uncertainty, or intimidation
Theological Faith steadfastness in belief
Theological Hope expectation of good
Theological Love or Charity selfless, unconditional, and voluntary loving-kindness

The cardinal virtues were derived initially from Plato's scheme (see Protagoras 330b, which also includes piety (hosiotes)) and adapted by Saint Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, and Thomas Aquinas (see Summa Theologica II(I).61). The term "cardinal" comes from the Latin cardo or hinge; the cardinal virtues are so called because they are hinges upon which the door of the moral life swings.

The theological virtues are so named because the object of these virtues is the divine being (theos). Other virtues have vice at their extremes, and are only virtues when they are maintained between these extremes. In the case of the Theological Virtues, they do not contribute to vice at the positive extreme; that is, there is no vice in having an unlimited amount of faith, hope, or love, when God is the object of that virtue. They occur in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 13:13:

"And now abideth faith, hope, and love, even these three: but the chiefest of these is love". (Geneva Bible, 1560).

[edit] Seven heavenly virtues

There is another list of the seven virtues to oppose the seven deadly sins. The "Seven heavenly virtues" were derived from the Psychomachia ("Contest of the Soul"), an epic poem written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (c. AD 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 considered to protect one against temptation from the seven deadly sins, with each one having its counterpart. Due to this they are sometimes referred to as the contrary virtues. Each of the seven heavenly virtues matches a corresponding deadly sin.

Virtue Latin Gloss (Vice) (Latin) Virtue's Meaning
Chastity Castitas Purity Lust Luxuria Courage and boldness. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought through education and betterment.
Temperance Temperare Self-Control Gluttony Gula Constant mindfulness of others and one's surroundings; practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation.
Charity Caritas Will, Generosity Greed Avaritia Generosity. Willingness to give. A nobility of thought or actions.
Diligence Industria Persistence, Effort Sloth Acedia


A zealous and careful nature in one's actions and work. Decisive work ethic. Budgeting one's time; monitoring one's own activities to guard against laziness.
Patience Patientia Peace Wrath Ira Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Resolving conflicts peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. The ability to forgive; to show mercy to sinners.
Kindness Humanitas Satisfaction Envy Invidia Charity, compassion, friendship, and sympathy without prejudice and for its own sake.
Humility Humilitas Bravery, Modesty Pride Superbia Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one's own self.

[edit] The Eighth Virtue

A catalogue of eight virtues includes the preceding seven heavenly virtues but also adds Justice as an eighth virtue:

Virtue Latin Gloss (Vice) (Latin) Virtue's Meaning
Justice Iustitia Fairness, Equity Corruption Venaliter Honesty, and the giving of righteousness. Being fair or telling the truth. Doing what is right and not what is wrong. It is the light of truth that conquers the dark of the wrong. Equity, impartiality.

[edit] Theology

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 Giving
  • Liberality: Pursuit of Will
  • Diligence: Pursuit of Ethics
  • Patience: Pursuit of Peace
  • Kindness: Pursuit of Charity
  • Humility: Pursuit of Modesty

[edit] Popular culture

Another set of Eight Virtues exists in the computer role-playing game series Ultima.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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