The Belles Heures of John, Duke of Berry, f. 191v.

AUDIO LECTURE: (Conf. 5) Interrelationship Between Virtues and Vices



CHAPTER 1 Our arrival at Abbot Serapion’s cell, and inquiry on the different kinds of vices and the way to overcome them.

CAPUT I. Adventus noster ad abbatis Sarapionis cellam et inquisitio de generibus et inpugnatione vitiorum



1. IN that assembly of Ancients and Elders was a man named Serapion, especially endowed with the grace of discretion, whose Conference I think it is worth while to set down in writing. For when we entreated him to discourse of the way to overcome our vices, so that their origin and cause might be made clearer to us, he thus began.

I. In illo coetu antiquissimorum senum fuit uir nomine Sarapion, adprime gratia discretionis ornatus, cuius conlationem operae pretium reor litteris tradere. Ambientibus enim nobis ut de inpugnatione uitiorum aliqua disputaret, quibus origines eorum et causae manifestius panderentur, ita exorsus est.



CHAPTER 2. Abba Serapion’s Discussion of  [the] eight principal vices.

CAPUT II. Narratio abbatis Serapionis de octo principalibus vitiis.



1. THERE are eight principal vices which attack the human race; namely:

II. Octo sunt principalia uitia quae humanum infestant genus, id est

first gastrimargia, which means gluttony,

secondly fornication,

thirdly philargyria, i.e., avarice or the love of money,

fourthly anger,

fifthly gloominess,

sixthly acedia, i.e., listlessness or low spirits,

seventhly kenodoxia, i.e., boasting or vainglory;

and eighthly pride.

primum gastrimargia, quod sonat uentris ingluuies,

secundum fornicatio,

tertium filargyria, id est auaritia siue amor pecuniae,

quartum ira,

quintum tristitia,

sextum acedia, id est anxietas seu taedium cordis,

septimum cenodoxia, id est iactantia seu uana gloria,

octauum superbia.

c03_ Distinction between Natural (carnal)and Spiritual Vices


[1] Distinction between Natural (carnal)
and Spiritual Vices




CHAPTER 3. Of the two classes of vices and their fourfold manner of acting on us.

CAPUT III. De duobus vitiorum generibus, et efficientia eorum quadripartita.



3. OF these vices then there are two classes.

III. Horum igitur uitiorum genera sunt duo.

[1] For they are either natural to us as gluttony,

[2] or arise outside of nature as covetousness.

Aut enim naturalia sunt ut gastrimargia,

aut extra naturam ut filargyria.

But their manner of acting on us is fourfold.


[1] For some cannot be consummated without an act on the part of the flesh, as gluttony and fornication,

[2] while some can be completed without any bodily act, as pride and vainglory.

[3] Some find the reasons for their being excited outside us, as covetousness and anger;

[4] others are aroused by internal feelings, as accedia and gloominess.

Efficientia uero quadripertita est. Quaedam enim sine actione carnali consummari non possunt, ut est gastrimargia et fornicatio,

 quaedam uero etiam sine ulla corporis actione conplentur, ut est superbia et cenodoxia.

 Nonnulla commotionis suae causas extrinsecus capiunt, ut est filargyria et ira,

 alia uero intestinis motibus excitantur, ut est acedia atque tristitia.



CHAPTER 4. A review of the passions of gluttony and fornication and their remedies.

CAPUT IV. Recapitulatio de gastrimargiae et fornicationis passione, et curatione earum.



4.1. AND to make this clearer not only by a short discussion to the best of my ability, but by Scripture proof as well, gluttony and fornication, though they exist in us naturally (for sometimes they spring up without any incitement from the mind, and simply at the motion and allurement of the flesh) yet if they are to be consummated, must find an external object, and thus take effect only through bodily acts. For “every man is tempted of his own lust. Then lust when it has conceived beareth sin, and sin when it is consummated begets death.”(James 1:14, 15)

IIII. Et ut haec eadem non solum disputatione quantum possumus breui, sed etiam scripturarum testimoniis manifestiora reddamus, gastrimargia et fornicatio, cum naturaliter nobis insint (nam nonnumquam etiam sine ullo animi incitamento solius instigatione ac pruritu carnis oriuntur), materia tamen ut consummentur egent extrinsecus et ita in effectum corporali actione perueniunt. Unusquisque enim temptatur a propria concupiscentia. Deinde concupiscentia cum fuerit concepta parit peccatum, peccatum uero cum fuerit consummatum generat mortem .

4.2. For the first Adam could not have fallen a victim to gluttony unless he had had material food at hand, and had used it wrongly, nor could the second Adam be tempted without the enticement of some object, when it was said to Him: “If Thou art the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”(Matt. 4:3) And it is clear to everybody that fornication also is only completed by a bodily act, as God says of this spirit to the blessed Job: “And his force is in his loins, and his strength in the navel of his belly.”(Job 40:16)

2. Nam nec primus Adam per gastrimargiam decipi potuit, nisi escae materiam habens in promptu abusus ea fuisset inlicite, nec secundus sine cuiusdam materiae inlicitatione temptatur, cum dicitur ei : si filius dei es, dic ut lapides isti panes fiant . Fornicatio quoque quod non nisi per corpus perficiatur, omnibus patet, ita de hoc spiritu dicente deo ad beatum Iob : et uirtus eius in lumbis, et potestas eius super umbilicum uentris .

4.3 And so these two vices in particular, which are carried into effect by the aid of the flesh, especially require bodily abstinence as well as spiritual care of the soul; since the determination of the mind is not in itself enough to resist their attacks (as is sometimes the case with anger or gloominess or the other passions, which an effort of the mind alone can overcome without any mortification of the flesh); but bodily chastisement must be used as well, and be carried out by means of fasting and vigils and acts of contrition; and to this must be added change of scene, because since these sins are the results of vices of both mind and body, so they can only be overcome by the united efforts of both.

3. Ideoque haec specialiter duo, quae ministerio carnis explentur, extra illam spiritalem animae curam egent peculiarius etiam continentia corporali, siquidem ad retundendos horum stimulos non sufficiat sola mentis intentio (ut nonnumquam solet aduersus iram seu tristitiam ceterasque fieri passiones, quas etiam sine ulla carnis adflictione sola nouit expugnare mentis industria), nisi etiam castigatio corporalis accesserit, quae ieiuniis, uigiliis et operis contritione perficitur, hisque fuerit remotio localis adiuncta, quia sicut amborum uitio, id est animae et corporis generantur, ita superari nisi utriusque labore non poterunt.

4.4. And although the blessed Apostle says generally that all vices are carnal, since he enumerates enmities and anger and heresies among other works of the flesh,(Cf. Gal. 5:19) yet in order to cure them and to discover their nature more exactly we make a twofold division of them: for we call some of them carnal, and some spiritual. And those we call carnal, which specially have to do with pampering the appetites of the flesh, and with which it is so charmed and satisfied, that sometimes it excites the mind when at rest and even drags it against its will to consent to its desire.

4. Et licet beatus apostolus omnia uitia generaliter pronuntiauerit esse carnalia , siquidem inimicitias et iras atque haereses inter cetera carnis opera numerauerit, nos tamen ad illorum curationes atque naturas diligentius colligendas duplici ea diuisione distinguimus. Nam ex his quaedam dicimus esse carnalia, quaedam uero spiritalia. Et illa quidem carnalia, quae specialiter ad fotum sensumque pertinent carnis, quibus illa ita delectatur ac pascitur, ut etiam quietas incitet mentes inuitasque eas nonnumquam pertrahat ad suae uoluntatis adsensum.

4.5. Of which the blessed Apostle says: “In which also we all walked in time past in the desires of our flesh, fulfilling the will of the flesh and of our thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest.”(Eph. 2:3) But we call those spiritual which spring only from the impulse of the mind and not merely contribute no pleasure to the flesh, but actually bring on it a weakness that is harmful to it, and only feed a diseased mind with the food of a most miserable pleasure. And therefore these need a single medicine for the heart: but those which are carnal can only be cured, as we said, by a double remedy. Whence it is extremely useful for those who aspire to purity, to begin by withdrawing from themselves the material which feeds these carnal passions, through which opportunity for or recollection of these same desires can arise in a soul that is still affected by the evil.

5. De quibus beatus apostolus in quibus, ait, et nos omnes aliquando conuersati sumus in desideriis carnis nostrae, facientes uoluntatem carnis et cogitationum, et eramus natura filii irae sicut et ceteri . Spiritalia uero dicimus, quae instinctu animae solius orta non solum nihil uoluptatis conferunt carni, sed etiam grauissimis eam languoribus adficientia miserrimae iucunditatis pastu animam tantum nutriunt aegrotantem. Et idcirco haec quidem simplici cordis indigent medicina, quae autem carnalia sunt, non nisi duplici quemadmodum diximus ad sanitatem curatione perueniunt. Unde puritati studentibus plurimum confert, ut harum carnalium passionum ipsas materias sibi primitus subtrahant, quibus potest uel occasio uel recordatio earundem passionum aegrotanti adhuc animae generari.

4.6. For a complicated disease needs a complicated remedy. For from the body the object and material which would allure it must be withdrawn, for fear lest the lust should endeavour to break out into act; and before the mind we should no less carefully place diligent meditation on Scripture and watchful anxiety and the withdrawal into solitude, lest it should give birth to desire even in thought. But as regards other vices intercourse with our fellows is no obstacle, or rather it is of the greatest possible use, to those who truly desire to get rid of them, because in mixing with others they more often meet with rebuke, and while they are more frequently provoked the existence of the vices is made evident, and so they are cured with speedy remedies.

6. Necesse est enim ut morbo duplici duplex adhibeatur curatio. Nam corpori, ne concupiscentia in effectum temptet prorumpere, necessario effigies et materia inliciens subtrahenda est, et animae nihilominus, ne eam uel cogitatione concipiat, adtentior meditatio scripturarum et sollicitudo peruigil ac remotio solitudinis utiliter adponenda. In ceteris autem uitiis humana consortia nihil obsunt, quin immo etiam plurimum conferunt his qui carere eis in ueritate desiderant, quia frequentia hominum magis arguuntur, et dum lacessita crebrius manifestantur, celeri medicina perueniunt ad salutem.

c02. Christ Tempted-Archetype of Victory Over Temptation (5.5-5.6)


[2] Christ, Archetype of Victory
Over Temptation

see Evagrius, On Thoughts (Peri Logismōn)



CHAPTER 5. How our Lord alone was tempted without sin.

CAPUT V. Quomodo Dominus noster solus absque peccato tentatus sit



5. AND so our Lord Jesus Christ, though declared by the Apostle’s word to have been tempted in all points like as we are, is yet said to have been “without sin,”(Heb. 4:15) i.e., without the infection of this appetite, as He knew nothing of incitements of carnal lust, with which we are sure to be troubled even against our will and without our knowledge;for the archangel thus describes the manner of His conception: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: therefore that which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

V. Ideoque dominus noster Iesus Christus, cum apostoli pronuntietur sententia temptatus fuisse per omnia secundum similitudinem nostram , diciter tamen absque peccato, id est absque huius passionis contagio, nequaquam scilicet aculeos concupiscentiae carnalis expertus, quibus nos necesse est etiam ignorantes inuitosque conpungi, quippe cui nulla inerat similitudo seminationis uel conceptionis humanae, ita rationem conceptus eius archangelo nuntiante : spiritus sanctus superueniet in te, et uirtus altissimi obumbrabit tibi : ideo et quod ex te nascetur sanctum uocabitur filius dei .





CHAPTER 6 Of the manner of the temptation in which our Lord was attacked by the devil.
see Evagrius, On Thoughts (Peri Logismōn)

CAPUT VI. De ratione tentationis qua a diabolo tentatus est Dominus.



6.1 FOR it was right that He who was in possession of the perfect image and likeness of God should be Himself tempted through those passions, through which Adam also was tempted while he still retained the image of God unbroken, that is, through

VI. In illis enim passionibus etiam ipse temptari debuit incorruptam imaginem dei ac similitudinem possidens, in quibus et Adam temptatus est, cum adhuc in illa inuiolata dei imagine perduraret, hoc est

[1] gluttony,

[2] vainglory,

[3] pride;




and not through those in which he was by his own vice entangled and involved after the transgression of the commandment, when the image and likeness of God was marred.

non in quibus post preuaricationem mandati imagine dei ac similitudine uiolata suo iam uitio deuolutus inuoluitur.

[1] For it was gluttony through which he took the fruit of the forbidden tree,

[2] vainglory through which it was said “Your eyes shall be opened,”

[3] and pride through which it was said “You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”(Gen. 3:5)

Gastrimargia namque est qua interdicti ligni praesumit edulium,

cenodoxia qua dicitur : aperientur oculi uestri ,

superbia qua dicitur : eritis sicut dii, scientes bonum et malum.

6.2. With these three sins then we read that the Lord our Savior was also tempted;

2. In his ergo tribus uitiis etiam dominum saluatorem legimus fuisse temptatum,

[1] with gluttony when the devil said to Him: “Command these stones that they be made bread:”

gastrimargia, cum dicitur ei a diabolo : dic ut lapides isti panes fiant ,

[2] with vainglory: “If Thou art the Son of God cast Thyself down:”

cenodoxia : si filius dei es, mitte te deorsum ,

[3] with pride, when he showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them and said: “All this will I give to Thee if Thou wilt fall down and worship me:”

superbia, cum ostendens illi omnia regna mundi et eorum gloriam dicit : haec tibi omnia dabo, si cadens adoraueris me ,

in order that He might by His example teach us how we ought to vanquish the tempter when we are attacked on the same lines of temptation as He was. And so both the former and the latter are spoken of as Adam; the one being the first for destruction and death, and the other the first for resurrection and life.

ut isdem quibus ille temptationum lineis adpetitus nos quoque quemadmodum temptatorem uincere deberemus suo doceret exemplo. Ideoque et ille Adam dicitur et iste Adam, ille primus ad ruinam et mortem, hic primus ad resurrectionem et uitam.

6.3. Through the one the whole race of mankind is brought into condemnation, through the other the whole race of mankind is set free. The one was fashioned out of raw and unformed earth, the other was born of the Virgin Mary. In His case then though it was fitting that He should undergo temptation, yet it was not necessary that He should fail under it. Nor could He who had vanquished gluttony be tempted by fornication, which springs from superfluity and gluttony as its root, with which even the first Adam would not have been destroyed unless before its birth he had been deceived by the wiles of the devil and fallen a victim to passion. And therefore the Son of God is not said absolutely to have come “in the flesh of sin,” but “in the likeness of the flesh of sin,” because though His was true flesh and He ate and drank and slept, and truly received the prints of the nails, there was in Him no true sin inherited from the fall, but only what was something like it.

3. Per illum omne genus hominum condemnatur, per istum omne genus hominum liberatur. Ille de rudi atque intacta fingitur terra, hic de Maria uirgine procreatur. Huius ergo ut suscipere eum temptationes oportuit, ita excedere necessarium non fuit. Nec enim qui gastrimargiam uicerat poterat fornicatione temptari, quae ex illius abundantia ac radice procedit, qua ne ille quidem primus Adam fuisset elisus, nisi ante generatricem eius passionem deceptus inlecebris diaboli recepisset. Et ob hoc filius dei non absolute in carne peccati uenisse dicitur, sed in similitudine carnis peccati . Quia, cum esset in eo uera caro, manducans scilicet et bibens et dormiens, clauorum quoque confixionem in ueritate suscipiens, peccatum eius quod praeuaricatione contraxit uerum non habuit sed imaginarium.

6.4. For He had no experience of the fiery darts of carnal lust, which in our case arise even against our will, from the constitution of our natures, but He took upon Him something like this, by sharing in our nature. For as He truly fulfilled every function which belongs to us, and bore all human infirmities, He has consequently been considered to have been subject to this feeling also, that He might appear through these infirmities to bear in His own flesh the state even of this vice and sin.

4. Non enim ignitos aculeos concupiscentiae carnalis expertus est, qui etiam nolentibus nobis natura iam administrante consurgunt, sed huius quandam similitudinem naturam participando suscepit. Nam cum omnia quae officii nostri sunt in ueritate conpleret et uniuersas infirmitates gestaret humanas, consequenter huic quoque passioni putatus est subiacere, ut per has infirmitates etiam conditionem huius quoque uitii atque peccati uideretur in sua carne portare.

6.5. Lastly the devil only tempted Him to those sins, by which he had deceived the first Adam, inferring that He as man would similarly be deceived in other matters if he found that He was overcome by those temptations by which he had overthrown His predecessor. But as he was overthrown in the first encounter he was not able to bring upon Him the second infirmity which had shot up as from the root of the first vice. For he saw that He had not even admitted anything from which this infirmity might take its rise, and it was idle to hope for the fruit of sin from Him, as he saw that He in no sort of way received into Himself seeds or roots of it.

5. Denique in his eum tantummodo uitiis diabolus temptat, in quibus et illum primum deceperat, coniciens hunc quoque uelut hominem similiter in ceteris inludendum, si eum in illis quibus priorem deicerat sensisset elisum. Uerum ei secundum iam morbum, qui de radice principalis uitii pullularat , primo certamine confutatus inferre non potuit. Uidebat enim nullatenus eum initialem causam huius aegritudinis suscepisse eratque superfluum sperari ab eo fructum peccati, cuius eum semina uel radices nullo modo recepisse cernebat.

6.6. Yet according to Luke, who places last that temptation in which he uses the words “If Thou art the Son of God, cast Thyself down,”(Luke 4:9) we can understand this of the feeling of pride, so that that earlier one, which Matthew places third, in which, as Luke the evangelist says, the devil showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time and promised them to Him, may be taken of the feeling of covetousness, because after His victory over gluttony, he did not venture to tempt Him to fornication, but passed on to covetousness, which he knew to be the root of all evils,(1 Tim. 6:10) and when again vanquished in this, he did not dare attack Him with any of those sins which follow, which, as he knew full well, spring from this as a root and source; and so he passed on to the last passion; viz., pride, by which he knew that those who are perfect and have overcome all other sins, can be affected, and owing to which he remembered that he himself in his character of Lucifer, and many others too, had fallen from their heavenly estate, without temptation from any of the preceding passions.

6. Licet secundum Lucan, qui postremam temptationem illam ponit in qua dicitur : si filius dei es, mitte te deorsum, haec superbiae passio possit intellegi, ita ut illa superior quam Matthaeus tertiam ponit , in qua iuxta praedictum Lucan euangelistam omnia ei regna mundi in puncto temporis ostendens diabolus repromittit, accipiatur passio filargyriae, quod scilicet post gastrimargiae uictoriam fornicatione eum temptare non praeualens ad filargyriam transierit , quam radicem esse malorum omnium nouerat, in qua iterum superatus nullum ei uitium ex his quae sequebantur eam ausus ingerere, quippe quae nouerat de eius radice ac fomite pullulare, ad extremam superbiae transilierit passionem, qua nouerat etiam perfectos quosque deuictis omnibus uitiis posse pulsari, qua etiam uel se ipsum, cum esset Lucifer, uel conplures alios absque ullo incitamento praecedentium passionum de caelestibus meminerat conruisse.

6.7. In this order then which we have mentioned, which is the one given by the evangelist Luke, there is an exact agreement between the allurements and forms of the temptations by which that most crafty foe attacked both the first and the second Adam. For to the one he said “Your eyes shall be opened;” (Cf. Gen. 3:5) to the other “he showed all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.” (Matt. 4:6, 8) In the one case he said “Ye shall be as gods;” (Cf. Gen. 3:5)  in the other, “If Thou art the Son of God.” (Matt. 4:6, 8)

7. Iuxta hunc ergo quem praediximus ordinem, qui ab euangelista Luca describitur, etiam ipsa inlicitatio et figura temptationum, quibus uel illum primum uel istum secundum Adam callidissimus adgreditur inimicus, elegantissime congruit. Illi namque dicit : aperientur oculi uestri, huic ostendit omnia regna mundi et gloriam eorum . Ibi dicit : eritis sicut dii, hic : si filius dei es .

 3. Unique Characteristics of 6 Spiritual Vices (5.7-5.9)


[3] Unique Characteristics of the
Six Spiritual Vices




CHAPTER 7 How vainglory and pride can be consummated without any assistance from the body.

CAPUT VII. De consummatione cenodoxiae et superbiae sine ministerio corporali.



7.1. AND to go on in the order which we proposed, with our account of the way in which the other passions act (our analysis of which was obliged to be interrupted by this account of gluttony and of the Lord’s temptation) vainglory and pride can be consummated even without the slightest assistance from the body. For in what way do those passions need any action of the flesh, which bring ample destruction on the soul they take captive simply by its assent and wish to gain praise and glory from men?

VII. Et ut de efficientiis ceterarum quoque passionum, quarum narrationem intercidere nos expositio gastrimargiae uel dominicae temptationis necessario conpulit, eodem quo proposueramus ordine disseramus, cenodoxia atque superbia etiam sine ullo consummari solent ministerio corporali. In quo enim egent actione carnali, quae pro coniuentia et uoluntate sola conquirendae laudis et humanae gloriae consequendae abunde ruinam generant animae captiuatae?

7.2. Or what act on the part of the body was there in that pride of old in the case of the above mentioned Lucifer; as he only conceived it in his heart and mind, as the prophet tells us: “Who saidst in thine heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will set my throne above the stars of God. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the most High.”(Is. 14:13, 14) And just as he had no one to stir him up to this pride, so his thoughts alone were the authors of the sin when complete and of his eternal fall; especially as no exercise of the dominion at which he aimed followed.

2. Aut quem effectum habuit corporalem praedicti Luciferi illius antiqua superbia, nisi quod eam tantummodo animo et cogitatione concepit, ita propheta commemorante : qui dicebas in corde tuo : in caelum conscendam, super astra dei ponam solium meum. Ascendam super altitudinem nubium, ero similis altissimo ? Qui sicut huius superbiae neminem habuit incentorem, ita ei consummationem criminis ruinaeque perpetuae cogitatio sola perfecit, et quidem cum affectatae tyrannidis nulla fuerint opera subsecuta.



CHAPTER 8 Of covetousness, which is something outside our nature, and of the difference between it and those vices which are natural to us.

CAPUT VIII. De philargyria, quod extra naturam sit, et quid intersit inter ipsam et naturalia vitia.



8.1. COVETOUSNESS and anger, although they are not of the same character (for the former is something outside our nature, while the latter seems to have as it were its seed plot within us) yet they spring up in the same way, as in most instances they find the reasons for their being stirred in something outside of us. For often men who are still rather weak complain that they have fallen into these sins through irritation and the instigation of others, and are plunged headlong into the passions of anger and covetousness by the provocation of other people. But that covetousness is something outside our nature, we can clearly see from this; viz., that it is proved not to have its first starting point inside us, nor does it originate in what contributes to keeping body and soul together, and to the existence of life

VIII. Filargyria et ira licet non sint unius naturae (nam prior extra naturam est, sequens uero originale uidetur in nobis seminarium possidere), simili tamen oriuntur modo : extrinsecus siquidem causas conmotionis plerumque concipiunt. Etenim frequenter hi qui adhuc infirmiores sunt uel inritatione uel instinctu quorundam in haec se corruisse uitia conqueruntur ac praecipitatos se uel ad iracundiam uel ad filargyriam aliorum prouocatione causantur. Quod autem extra naturam sit filargyria, hinc liquido peruidetur, quia nec originale probatur in nobis habere principium nec de materia concipitur, quae pertingit ad animae uel carnis participationem uitaeque substantiam.

8.2. For it is plain that nothing belongs to the actual needs and necessities of our common life except our daily meat and drink: but everything else, with whatever zeal and care we preserve it, is shown to be something distinct from the wants of man by the needs of life itself. And so this temptation, as being something outside our nature, only attacks those monks who are but lukewarm and built on a bad foundation, whereas those which are natural to us do not cease from troubling even the best of monks and those who dwell in solitude.

2. Nihil enim ad usum ac necessitatem naturae conmunis praeter escam cotidianam ac potum certum est peruenire. Reliquae uero uniuersae materiae quantolibet studio atque amore seruentur, alienae tamen ab humana indigentia etiam usu uitae ipsius adprobantur. Ideoque hoc uelut extra naturam exsistens non nisi tepidos ac male fundatos monachos pulsat, quae autem naturalia sunt etiam probatissimos monachorum et quidem in solitudine conmorantes adtemptare non desinunt.

8.3. And so far is this shown to be true, that we find that there are some nations who are altogether free from this passion of covetousness, because they have never by use and custom received into themselves this vice and infirmity. And we believe that the old world before the flood was for long ages ignorant of the madness of this desire. And in the case of each one of us who makes his renunciation of the world a thorough one, we know that it is extirpated without any difficulty, if, that is, a man gives up all his property, and seeks the monastic discipline in such a way as not to allow himself to keep a single farthing.

3. Et in tantum hoc uerissimum conprobatur, ut etiam gentes nonnullas ab hac passione, id est filargyriae, liberas omnimodis agnoscamus, quia nequaquam uitii huius aegritudinem usu et consuetudine receperunt. Illum quoque priorem mundum qui ante diluuium fuit diutissime concupiscentiae huius rabiem credimus ignorasse. Quae etiam in unoquoque nostrum recte abrenuntiante sine ullo labore probatur extingui, cum scilicet uniuersis quis facultatibus abiectis ita expetierit coenobii disciplinam, ut ex eis ne unum quidem denarium sibimet superesse patiatur.

8.4. And we can find thousands of men to bear witness to this, who in a single moment have given up all their property, and have so thoroughly eradicated this passion as not to be in the slightest degree troubled by it afterwards, though all their life long they have to fight against gluttony, and cannot be safe from it without striving with the utmost watchfulness of heart and bodily abstinence.

4. Cuius rei testes multa hominum milia possumus inuenire, qui cum sub momento breuissimo dispersis omnibus substantiis suis ita hanc eradicauerint passionem, ut ne tenuiter quidem ab ea pulsentur ulterius, nihilominus omni tempore contra gastrimargiam pugnantes, nisi ingenti circumspectione cordis et abstinentia corporis dimicarint, securi esse non possunt.



CHAPTER 9. How gloominess and acedia generally arise without any external provocation, as in the case of other vices.

CAPUT IX. Quod tristitia et acedia nulla provocatione extrinsecus generentur, sicut alia vitia.



9. GLOOMINESS and accedia generally arise without any external provocation, like those others of which we have been speaking: for we are well aware that they often harass solitaries, and those who have settled themselves in the desert without any intercourse with other men, and this in the most distressing way. And the truth of this any one who has lived in the desert and made trial of the conflicts of the inner man, can easily prove by experience.

VIIII. Tristitia et acedia nulla quemadmodum superiora diximus accedente extrinsecus prouocatione generari solent. Nam solitarios quoque et in heremo constitutos nullique humano conmixtos consortio frequenter atque amarissime uexare noscuntur. Quod esse uerissimum, quisque fuerit in solitudine conmoratus et pugnas hominis interioris expertus, ipsis experimentis perfacile conprobabit.

c10 Order of Vices - Cascade and Reinforcement (5.10)


[4] How the Vices Cascade into
(and reinforce) One Another




CHAPTER 10. How six of these vices are related, and the two which differ from them are akin to one another.

CAPUT X. De sex vitiorum concordia, et duorum ab eis dissidentium cognatione.



10.1. OF these eight vices then, although they are different in their origin and in their way of affecting us, yet the six former; viz., gluttony, fornication, covetousness, anger, gloominess, acedia, have a sort of connexion with each other, and are, so to speak, linked together in a chain, so that any excess of the one forms a starting point for the next.

X. Haec igitur octo uitia licet diuersos ortus ac dissimiles efficientias habeant, sex tamen priora, id est gastrimargia, fornicatio, filargyria, ira, tristitia, acedia quadam inter se cognatione et ut ita dixerim concatenatione conexa sunt, ita ut prioris exuberantia sequenti efficiatur exordium.

[1] For from superfluity of gluttony

Nam de abundantia gastrimargiae

[2] fornication is sure to spring, and from fornication

fornicationem, de fornicatione

[3] covetousness, from covetousness

filargyriam, de filargyria

[4] anger, from anger,

iram, de ira

[5] gloominess, and from gloominess,

tristitiam, de tristitia

[6] acedia.


And so we must fight against them in the same way, and with the same methods: and having overcome one, we ought always to enter the lists against the next.

necesse est pullulare. Ideoque simili contra haec modo atque eadem ratione pugnandum est et a praecedentibus semper aduersus sequentes oportet nos inire certamina.

10.2. For a tall and spreading tree of a noxious kind will the more easily be made to wither if the roots on which it depends have first been laid bare or cut; and a pond of water which is dangerous will be dried up at once if the spring and flowing channel which produce it are carefully stopped up. Wherefore in order to overcome acedia, you must first get the better of gloominess: in order to get rid of gloominess, anger must first be expelled: in order to quell anger, covetousness must be trampled under foot: in order to root out covetousness, fornication must be checked: and in order to destroy fornication, you must chastise the sin of gluttony.

2. Facilius enim cuiuslibet arboris noxia latitudo ac proceritas exarescet, si antea radices eius quibus innitur uel nudatae fuerint uel succisae, et infestantes umores aquarum continuo siccabuntur, cum generator earum fons ac profluentes uenae sollerti industria fuerint obturatae. Quamobrem ut acedia uincatur, ante superanda tristitia est : ut tristitia propellatur, ira prius est extrudenda : ut extinguatur ira, filargyria calcanda est : ut euellatur filargyria, fornicatio conpescenda est : ut fornicatio subruatur, gastrimargiae est uitium castigandum.

10.3. But the two remaining vices; viz., vainglory and pride, are connected together in a somewhat similar way as the others of which we have spoken, so that the growth of the one makes a starting point for the other (for superfluity of vainglory produces an incentive to pride); but they are altogether different from the six former vices, and are not joined in the same category with them, since not only is there no opportunity given for them to spring up from these, but they are actually aroused in an entirely different way and manner. For when these others have been eradicated these latter flourish the more vigorously, and from the death of the others they shoot forth and grow up all the stronger: and therefore we are attacked by these two vices in quite a different way.

3. Residua uero duo, id est cenodoxia et superbia sibi quidem similiter illa qua de superioribus uitiis diximus ratione iunguntur, ita ut incrementum prioris ortus efficiatur alterius (cenodoxiae enim exuberantia superbiae fomitem parit), sed ab illis sex prioribus uitiis penitus dissident nec simili cum eis societate foederantur, siquidem non solum nullam ex illis occasionem suae generationis accipiant, sed etiam contrario modo atque ordine suscitentur. Nam illis euulsis haec uehementius fruticant et illorum morte uiuacius pullulant atque subcrescunt. Unde etiam diuerso modo ab his duobus uitiis inpugnamur.

10.4. For we fall into each one of those six vices at the moment when we have been overcome by the ones that went before them; but into these two we are in danger of falling when we have proved victorious, and above all after some splendid triumph. In the cases then of all vices just as they spring up from the growth of those that go before them, so are they eradicated by getting rid of the earlier ones. And in this way in order that pride may be driven out vainglory must be stifled, and so if we always overcome the earlier ones, the later ones will be checked; and through the extermination of those that lead the way, the rest of our passions will die down without difficulty.

4. In unumquodque enim illorum sex uitiorum tunc incidimus, cum a praecedentibus eorum fuerimus elisi, in haec uero duo uictores et uel maxime post triumphos periclitamur incurrere. Omnia igitur uitia, quemadmodum incremento praecedentium generantur, ita illorum deminutione purgantur. Et hac ratione ut superbia possit explodi, cenodoxia est praefocanda, et ita semper prioribus superatis sequentia conquiescent et extinctione praecedentium residuae passiones absque labore marcescent.

10.5. And though these eight vices of which we have spoken are connected and joined together in the way which we have shown, yet they may be more exactly divided into four groups and sub-divisions. For to gluttony fornication is linked by a special tie: to covetousness anger, to gloominess acedia, and to vainglory pride is closely allied.

5. Et licet haec quae praediximus octo uitia illa qua conmemorauimus ratione inuicem sibi conexa atque permixta sint, specialius tamen in quatuor coniugationes et copulas diuiduntur. Gastrimargiae namque fornicatio peculiari consortio foederatur : filargyriae ira, tristitiae acedia, cenadoxiae superbia familiariter coniugatur.

 c11_Subtypes of the Eight Vices (5.11)


[5] Subtypes of the Eight  Vices




CHAPTER 11 Of the origin and character of each of these vices.

CAPUT XI. De origine et qualitate uniuscujusque vitii.



11.1. AND now, to speak about each kind of vice separately:

XI. Et ut singillatim nunc de uniuscuiusque uitii generibus disputemus

of GLUTTONY there are three sorts:

, gastrimargiae genera sunt tria :.

[1] that which drives a monk to eat before the proper and stated times;

primum quod ad refectionem perurget monachum ante horam statutam ac legitimam festinare,

[2] that which cares about filling the belly and gorging it with all kinds of food, and

secundum quod expletione uentris et quarumlibet escarum uoracitate laetatur,

[3] that which is on the lookout for dainties and delicacies.

tertium quod accuratiores ac delicatissimos desiderat cibos

And these three sorts give a monk no little trouble, unless he tries to free himself from all of them with the same care and scrupulousness. For just as one should never venture to break one’s fast before the right time so we must utterly avoid all greediness in eating, and the choice and dainty preparation of our food: for from these three causes different but extremely dangerous conditions of the soul arise.

Quae tria non leui dispendio monachum feriunt, nisi ab omnibus istis part studio atque obseruantia semet ipsum expedire contenderit. Nam quemadmodum absolutio ieiunii ante horam canonicam nullatenus praesumenda est, ita et uentris ingluuies et escarum sumptuosa atque exquisita praeparatio similiter amputanda. Ex his enim tribus causis diuersae ac pessimae ualitudines animae procreantur.

[3] that which is on the lookout for dainties and delicacies.

tertium quod accuratiores ac delicatissimos desiderat cibos

11.2. For from

2. Nam de

[1] the first there springs up dislike of the monastery, and thence there grows up disgust and intolerance of the life there, and this is sure to be soon followed by withdrawal and speedy departure from it

prima monasterii odium gignitur atque exinde horror et intolerantia eiusdem concrescit habitaculi, quam sine dubio mox discessio ac fuga uelocissima subsequetur.

[2] By the second there are kindled the fiery darts of luxury and lasciviousness.

De secunda igniti luxuriae ac libidinis aculei suscitantur.

[3] The third also weaves the entangling meshes of covetousness for the nets of its prisoners, and ever hinders monks from following the perfect self-abnegation of Christ.

Tertia etiam inextricabiles filargyriae laqueos nectit ceruicibus captiuorum nec aliquando monachum sinit perfecta Christi nuditate fundari.

And when there are traces of this passion in us we can recognize them by this; viz., if we are kept to dine by one of the brethren we are not content to eat our food with the relish which he has prepared and offers to us, but take the unpardonable liberty of asking to have something else poured over it or added to it

Cuius nobis passionis inesse uestigia isto quoque deprehendimus indicio, cum forte ad refectionem detenti ab aliquo fratrum contenti non sumus eo sapore cibos sumere quo ab exhibente conditi sunt, sed quiddam superfundi eis uel adici inportuna atque effrenata poscimus libertate.

11.3. a thing which we should never do for three reasons: [1] because the monastic mind ought always to be accustomed to practise endurance and abstinence, and like the Apostle, to learn to be content in whatever state he is.(Cf. Phil. 4:11) For one who is upset by taking an unsavoury morsel once and in a way, and who cannot even for a short time overcome the delicacy of his appetite will never succeed in curbing the secret and more important desires of the body; [2] because it sometimes happens that at the time our host is out of that particular thing which we ask for, and we make him feel ashamed of the wants and bareness of his table, by exposing his poverty which he would rather was only known to God; [3] because sometimes other people do not care about the relish which we ask for, and so it turns out that we are annoying most of them while intent on satisfying the desires of our own palate. And on this account we must by all means avoid such a liberty.

3. Quod fieri penitus non oportet tribus de causis. Primo quia mens monachi semper debet in omni tolerantiae ac parcitatis exercitatione uersari et secundum apostolum discere in quibus est sufficiens esse . Nullatenus enim poterit uel occulta uel maiora corporis desideria refrenare, quisque degustatione modicae insuauitatis offensus ne ad momentum quidem delicias gutturis sui ualuerit castigare. Secundo quod nonnumquam euenit, ut ad horam desit illa species quae postulatur a nobis et uerecundiam necessitati uel frugalitati suscipientis incutimus, publicantes scilicet paupertatem eius quam soli deo cognitam esse maluerat. Tertio quod interdum solet sapor ille quem nos adici poscimus aliis displicere, et inuenimur iniuriam multis, dum nostrae gulae ac desiderio satisfacere cupimus, inrogare. Propter quod omnimodis haec in nobis est castiganda libertas.

11.4. Of FORNICATION there are three sorts:

4. Fornicationis genera sunt tria.

[1] that which is accomplished by sexual intercourse;

Primum quod per conmixtionem sexus utriusque perficitur.

[2] that which takes place without touching a woman, for which we read that Onan the son of the patriarch Judah was smitten by the Lord; and which is termed by Scripture uncleanness: of which the Apostle says: “But I say to the unmarried and to widows, that it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they do not contain let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn;”(1 Cor. 7:8, 9)

Secundum quod absque femineo tactu , pro quo Onam patriarchae Iudae filius a domino percussus legitur, quod in scripturis sanctis inmunditia nuncupatur. Super quo apostolus : dico autem innuptis et uiduis, bonum est illis si sic manserint sicut et ego. Quod si se non continent, nubant : melius est enim nubere quam uri .

[3] that which is conceived in heart and mind, of which the Lord says in the gospel: “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.”(Matt. 5:28)

Tertium quod animo ac mente concipitur, de quo dominus in euangelio : qui uiderit mulierem ad concupiscendum eam, iam moechatus est eam in corde suo .

11.5. And these three kinds the blessed Apostle tells us must be stamped out in one and the same way. “Mortify,” says he, “your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, lust, etc.”(Col. 3:5) And again of two of them he says to the Ephesians: “Let fornication and uncleanness be not so much as named among you:” and once more: “But know this that no fornicator or unclean person, or covetous person who is an idolater hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”(Eph. 5:3-5)

5. Quae tria genera beatus apostolus pari modo extinguenda pronuntians mortificate, inquit, membra uestra quae sunt super terram, fornicationem, inmunditiam, libidinem et cetera, et iterum de duobus ad Ephesios : fornicatio et inmunditia nec nominetur in uobis , et iterum : illud autem scitote, quod omnis fornicator aut inmundus aut auarus, quod est idolorum seruitus, non habet hereditatem in regno Christi et dei .

11.6. And just as these three must be avoided by us with equal care, so they one and all shut us out and exclude us equally from the kingdom of Christ. Of covetousness there are three kinds: [1] That which hinders renunciants from allowing themselves of be stripped of their goods and property; [2] that which draws us to resume with excessive eagerness the possession of those things which we have given away and distributed to the poor; [3] that which leads a man to covet and procure what he never previously possessed.

6. Quae tria ut a nobis pari obseruatione caueantur, similis nos eorum a regno Christi atque una deterret exclusio. Filargyriae genera sunt tria. Primum quod renuntiantes diuitiis ac facultatibus suis spoliari non sinit. Secundum quod ea, quae a nobis dispersa sunt uel indigentibus distributa, resumere nos maiore cupiditate persuadet. Tertium quod ea, quae ne antea quidem possedimus, desiderari adquiriue conpellit.

11.7. Of ANGER there are three kinds:

7. Irae genera sunt tria.

[1] one which rages within, which is called in Greek thumos;

Unum quod exardescit intrinsecus, quod Graece θυμός dicitur.

[2] another which breaks out in word and deed and action, which they term orge: of which the Apostle speaks, saying “But now do ye lay aside all anger and indignation;”(Col. 3:8)

Aliud quod in uerbum et opus effectumque prorumpit, quod  ὀργὴ nuncupatur. De quibus et apostolus : nunc autem deponite, inquit, et uos omnia, iram, indignationem .

[3] the third, which is not like those in boiling over and being done with in an hour, but which lasts for days and long periods, which is called menis.

Tertium quod non ut illa efferuens ad horam digeritur, sed per dies et tempora reseruatur, quod  μῆνις dicitur.

11.8. And all these three must be condemned by us with equal horror.

8. Quae omnia aequali sunt a nobis horrore damnanda.

Of GLOOMINESS there are two kinds:

Tristitiae genera sunt duo.

[1] one, that which springs up when anger has died down, or is the result of some loss we have incurred or of some purpose which has been hindered and interfered with;

Unum quod uel iracundia desinente uel de inlato damno ac desiderio praepedito cassatoque generatur,

[2] the other, that which comes from unreasonable anxiety of mind or from despair.

aliud quod de inrationabili mentis anxietate seu desperatione descendit.

Of ACCEDIA there are two kinds:

Acediae genera sunt duo.

[1] one of which sends those affected by it to sleep;

Unum quod ad somnum praecipitat aestuantes,

[2] while the other makes them forsake their cell and flee away.

aliud quod cellam deserere ac fugere cohortatur.

Of VAINGLORY, although it takes various forms and shapes, and is divided into different classes, yet there are two main kinds:

Cenodoxia licet multiformis ac multiplex sit et in diuersas species diuidatur, genera tamen eius sunt duo.

[1] when we are puffed up about carnal things and things visible, and

Primum quo pro carnalibus ac manifestis extollimur rebus,

[2] when we are inflamed with the desire of vain praise for things spiritual and unseen.

secundum quo pro spiritalibus et occultis desiderio uanae laudis inflamur.

 c12_Use Vainglory_Against_Other_Vices - Gluttony and Lust


[5.5] Use Vainglory Against Vices: e.g. Gluttony and Lust


 See Evagrius, Praktikos 58


CHAPTER 12 How vainglory may be useful to us.

CAPUT XII. In quo sit utilis cenodoxia.



12.1. BUT in one matter vainglory is found to be a useful thing for beginners.I mean by those who are still troubled by carnal sins, as for instance, if, when they are troubled by the spirit of fornication, they formed an idea of the dignity of the priesthood, or of reputation among all men, by which they may be thought saints and immaculate: and so with these considerations they repell the unclean suggestions of lust, as deeming them base and at least unworthy of their rank and reputation; and so by means of a smaller evil they overcome a greater one. For it is better for a man to be troubled by the sin of vainglory than for him to fall into the desire for fornication, from which he either cannot recover at all or only with great difficulty after he has fallen.

XII. Vna re tamen cenodoxia utiliter ab incipientibus adsumitur, ab his dumtaxat qui adhuc uitiis carnalibus instigantur, ut uerbi gratia si illo tempore, quo fornicationis spiritu perurgentur, mente conceperint uel sacerdotalis officii dignitatem uel opinionem cunctorum, qua sancti et inmaculati esse credantur, et ita inmundos concupiscentiae stimulos quasi turpes atque indignos uel existimationi suae uel illi ordini iudicantes hac saltim contemplatione declinent, minore malo id quod maius est retundentes. Satius enim est cenodoxiae uitio quemcumque pulsari quam incidere in fornicationis ardorem, unde reparari aut non ualeat aut uix ualeat post ruinam.

12.2. And this thought is admirably expressed by one of the prophets speaking in the person of God, and saying: “For My name’s sake I will remove My wrath afar off: and with My praise I will bridle thee lest thou shouldest perish,”(Is. 48:9) i.e., while you are enchained by the praises of vainglory, you cannot possibly rush on into the depths of hell, or plunge irrevocably into the commission of deadly sins. Nor need we wonder that this passion has the power of checking anyone from rushing into the sin of fornication, since it has been again and again proved by many examples that when once a man has been affected by its poison and plague, it makes him utterly indefatigable, so that he scarcely feels a fast of even two or three days.

2. Quem sensum ex persona dei unus prophetarum eleganter expressit dicens : propter me longe faciam furorem meum : et laude mea infrenabo te, ne intereas , id est ut dum cenodoxiae laudibus conpediris, nequaquam ad inferni profunda procurras et inreuocabiliter mortalium peccatorum consummatione mergaris. Nec mirum tantam passioni huic inesse uirtutem, ut inruentem quempiam in fornicationis labem ualeat refrenare, cum sit multorum experimentis saepissime conprobatum, quod ita eum quem semel ueneni sui peste corruperit infatigabilem reddat, ut faciat ab eo ne biduana quidem ieiunia uel triduana sentiri.

12.3. And we have often known some who are living in this desert, confessing that when their home was in the monasteries of Syria they could without difficulty go for five days without food, while now they are so overcome with hunger even by the third hour, that they can scarcely keep on their daily fast to the ninth hour. And on this subject there is a very neat answer of Abbot Macarius to one who asked him why he was troubled with hunger as early as the third hour in the desert, when in the monastery he had often scorned food for a whole week, without feeling hungry. “Because,” said he, “here there is nobody to see your fast, and feed and support you with his praise of you: but there you grew fat on the notice of others and the food of vainglory.”

3. Quod etiam nonnullos in hac heremo frequenter nouimus fuisse confessos, se in cenobiis Syriae constitutos quinis diebus refectionem cibi sine labore tolerasse, nunc autem tanta se fame etiam ab hora tertia perurgeri, ut usque nonam uix queant diferre cotidiana ieiunia. Super qua re pulchre abba Macarius cuidam percontanti, cur fame ab hora tertia in heremo pulsaretur, qui in coenobio ebdomadibus integris refectionem saepe contemnens non sensisset esuriem, respondit : quia hic nullus est ieiunii tui testis qui te suis laudibus nutriat atque sustentet : ibi autem te digitus hominum et cenodoxiae refectio saginabat.

12.4. And of the way in which, as we said, the sin of fornication is prevented by an attack of vainglory, there is an excellent and significant figure in the book of Kings, where, when the children of Israel had been taken captive by Necho, King of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Assyria, came up and brought them back from the borders of Egypt to their own country, not indeed meaning to restore them to their former liberty and their native land, but meaning to carry them off to his own land and to transport them to a still more distant country than the land of Egypt in which they had been prisoners. And this illustration exactly applies to the case before us. For though there is less harm in yielding to the sin of vainglory than to fornication, yet it is more difficult to escape from the dominion of vainglory.

4. Huius autem rei figura, qua diximus superueniente cenodoxia uitium fornicationis excludi, pulchre satis in Regnorum libro ac signanter exprimitur , ubi populum Israhelem a Nechao rege Aegypti captiuatum ascendens Nabuchodonosor rex Assyriorum de finibus Aegypti ad suam transtulit regionem, scilicet non ut eos libertati pristinae et genitali restitueret regioni, sed ut ad suas abduceret terras longius asportandos quam fuerant in terra Aegypti captiuati. Quae figura in hoc quoque conpetenter aptabitur. Licet enim tolerabilius sit cenodoxiae quam fornicationis uitio deseruire, difficilius tamen a cenodoxiae dominatione disceditur.

12.5. For somehow or other the prisoner who is carried off to a greater distance, will have more difficulty in returning to his native land and the freedom of his fathers, and the prophet’s rebuke will be deservedly aimed at him: “Wherefore art thou grown old in a strange country?(Baruch 3:11) since a man is rightly said to have grown old in a strange country, if he has not broken up the ground of his vices.

5. Quodammodo enim longiore itineris spatio captiuus abductus laboriosius ad genitale solum et libertatem patriam reuertetur, meritoque ad eum increpatio illa prophetica dirigetur : quare inueteratus es in terra aliena ? Recte siquidem inueteratus dicitur in terra aliena, quisque a terrenis uitiis non nouatur.

Of PRIDE there are two kinds:

Superbiae genera sunt duo :

[1] carnal, and

primum carnale,

[2] spiritual, which is the worse. For it especially attacks those who are seen to have made progress in some good qualities.

secundum spiritale, quod etiam perniciosius est. Illos namque specialius inpugnat, quos in quibusdam uirtutibus profecisse reppererit.

 c13-14 Each Must Discover Own Deepest Weakness (5.13 - 5.14)


[6] Discover and Identify
Your Own Deepest, Fiercest Weakness




CHAPTER 13. Of the different ways in which all these vices assault us.

CAPUT XIII. De varia oppugnatione omnium vitiorum.



13. ALTHOUGH then these eight vices trouble all sorts of men, yet they do not attack them all in the same way. For in one man the spirit of fornication holds the chief place: wrath rides rough shod over another: over another vainglory claims dominion: in an other pride holds the field: and though it is clear that we are all attacked by all of them, yet the difficulties come to each of us in very different ways and manners.

XIII. Haec igitur octo uitia cum omne hominum genus pulsent, non tamen uno modo inpetunt cunctos. In alio namque spiritus fornicationis locum obtinet principalem, in alio superequitat furor, in alio cenodoxia uindicat tyrannidem, in alio arcem superbia tenet. Et cum constet omnes ab omnibus inpugnari, diuerso tamen modo et ordine singuli laboramus.



CHAPTER 14 Of the struggle into which we must enter against our vices, when they attack us.

CAPUT XIV. De instituendo adversum vitia certamine secundum ipsorum infestationem.



14.1. WHEREFORE we must enter the lists against these vices in such a way that every one should discover his besetting sin, and direct his main attack against it, directing all his care and watchfulness of mind to guard against its assault, directing against it daily the weapons of fasting, and at all times hurling against it the constant darts of sighs and groanings from the heart, and employing against it the labours of vigils and the meditation of the heart, and further pouring forth to God constant tears and prayers and continually and expressly praying to be delivered from its attack.


XIIII. Quamobrem ita nobis aduersus haec adripienda sunt proelia, ut unusquisque uitium quo maxime infestatur explorans aduersus illud adripiat principale certamen, omnem curam mentis ac sollicitudinem erga illius inpugnationem obseruationemque defigens, aduersus illud cotidiana ieiuniorum dirigens spicula, contra illud cunctis momentis cordis suspiria crebraque gemituum tela contorquens, aduersus illud uigiliarum labores ac meditationes sui cordis inpendens, indesinentes quoque orationum fletus ad deum fundens et inpugnationis suae extinctionem ab illo specialiter ac iugiter poscens.

14.2. For it is impossible for a man to win a triumph over any kind of passion, unless he has first clearly understood that he cannot possibly gain the victory in the struggle with it by his own strength and efforts, although in order that he may be rendered pure he must night and day persist in the utmost care and watchfulness. And even when he feels that he has got rid of this vice, he should still search the inmost recesses of his heart with the same purpose, and single out the worst vice which he can see among those still there, and bring all the forces of the Spirit to bear against it in particular, and so by always overcoming the stronger passions, he will gain a quick and easy victory over the rest, because by a course of triumphs the soul is made more vigorous, and the fact that the next conflict is with weaker passion insures him a readier success in the struggle: as is generally the case with those who are wont to face all kinds of wild beasts in the presence of the kings of this world, out of consideration for the rewards--a kind of spectacle which is generally called “pancarpus.”

2. Inpossibile namque est de qualibet passione triumphum quempiam promereri, priusquam intellexerit industria uel labore proprio uictoriam certaminis semet obtinere non posse, cum tamen, ut ualeat emundari, necesse sit eum die noctuque in omni cura et sollicitudine permanere. Cumque se ab ea senserit absolutum, rursus latebras sui cordis simili intentione perlustret et excipiat sibi quam inter reliquas perspexerit diriorem atque aduersus eam specialius omnia spiritus arma conmoueat, et ita semper ualidioribus superatis celerem de residuis habebit facilemque uictoriam, quia et mens triumphorum processu reddetur fortior et informiorum pugna succedens promptiorem ei prouentum faciet proeliorum : ut fieri solet ab his qui coram regibus mundi huius omnigenis congredi bestiis praemiorum contemplatione consuerunt, quod spectaculi genus uulgo pancarpum nuncupatur.

14.3. Such men, I say, direct their first assault against whatever beasts they see to be the strongest and fiercest, and when they have despatched these, then they can more easily lay low the remaining ones, which are not so terrible and powerful. So too, by always overcoming the stronger passions, as weaker ones take their place, a perfect victory will be secured for us without any risk. Nor need we imagine that if any one grapples with one vice in particular, and seems too careless about guarding against the attacks of others, he will be easily wounded by a sudden assault, for this cannot possibly happen.

3. Hi, inquam, feras quascumque fortiores robore uel feritatis rabie conspexerint diriores, aduersus eas primae congressionis certamen adripiunt, quibus extinctis reliquas, quae minus terribiles minusque uehementes sunt, exitu faciliore prosternunt. Ita et uitiis semper robustioribus superatis atque infirmioribus succedentibus parabitur nobis absque ullo discrimine perfecta uictoria. Nec tamen putandum, quod principaliter quis contra unum dimicans uitium et uelut incautius aliorum tela prospiciens inopinato ictu facilius ualeat sauciari.

14.4. For where a man is anxious to cleanse his heart, and has steeled his heart’s purpose against the attack of any one vice, it is impossible for him not to have a general dread of all other vices as well, and take similar care of them. For if a man renders himself unworthy of the prize of purity by contaminating himself with other vices, how can he possibly succeed in gaining the victory over that one passion from which he is longing to be freed? But when the main purpose of our heart has singled out one passion as the special object of its attack, we shall pray about it more earnestly, and with special anxiety and fervour shall entreat that we may be more especially on our guard against it and so succeed in gaining a speedy victory.

4, Quod nequaquam fiet. Inpossibile namque est eum qui pro cordis sui emundatione sollicitus erga inpugnationem uitii cuiuslibet intentionem suae mentis armauerit, aduersus cetera quoque uitia generalem quendam horrorem et custodiam similem non habere. Quo enim modo uel de illa qua absolui desiderat passione merebitur obtinere uictoriam, qui se indignum purgationis praemio aliorum facit contagio uitiorum? Sed cum principalis cordis nostri intentio uelut specialem sibi pugnam aduersus unam exceperit passionem, pro ipsa orabit adtentius peculiari sollicitudine uel studio supplicans, ut eam diligentius obseruare et per haec celerem mereatur obtinere uictoriam.

14.5. For the giver of the law himself teaches us that we ought to follow this plan in our conflicts and not to trust in our own power; as he says: “Thou shalt not fear them because the Lord thy God is in the midst of thee, a God mighty and terrible: He will consume these nations in thy sight by little and little and by degrees. Thou wilt not be able to destroy them altogether: lest perhaps the beasts of the earth should increase upon thee. But the Lord thy God shall deliver them in thy sight; and shall slay them until they be utterly destroyed.”(Deut. 7:21-23)

5. Hunc namque nos ordinem proeliorum exercere debere nec tamen de nostra uirtute confidere etiam legislator his docet uerbis : non timebis eos, quia dominus deus tuus in medio tui est, deus magnus et terribilis : ipse consumet nationes has in conspectu tuo paulatim atque per partes. Non poteris delere eas pariter : ne forte multiplicentur contra te bestiae terrae. Dabitque eos dominus deus tuus in conspectu tuo : et interficiet illos donec penitus deleantur .

c15_ Rely on Grace (5.15)


[7] Rely on Grace




CHAPTER 15. How we can do nothing against our vices without the help of God, and how we should not be puffed up by victories over them.

CAPUT XV. Nihil nos posse adversum vitia sine auxilio Dei, nec debere nos in eorum extolli victoria.



15.1. AND that we ought not to be puffed up by victories over them he likewise charges us; saying, “Lest after thou hast eaten and art filled, hast built goodly houses and dwelt in them, and shalt have herds of oxen and flocks of sheep, and plenty of gold and of silver, and of all things, thy heart be lifted up and thou remember not the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; and was thy leader in the great and terrible wilderness.”(Deut. 8:12-15) Solomon also says in Proverbs: “When thine enemy shall fall be not glad, and in his ruin be not lifted up, lest the Lord see and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him,”(Prov. 24:17, 18 [LXX]) i.e., lest He see thy pride of heart, and cease from attacking him, and thou begin to be forsaken by Him and so once more to be troubled by that passion which by God’s grace thou hadst previously overcome.

XV. Sed neque debere nos in eorum extolli uictoria similiter monet : ne postquam comederis, inquit, et satiatus domus pulchras aedificaueris, et habitaueris in eis, habuerisque armenta et ouium greges, argenti et auri, cunctarumque rerum copiam, eleuetur cor tuum, et non reminiscaris domini dei tui, qui eduxit te de terra Aegypti, de domo seruitutis : et ductor tuus fuit in solitudine magna atque terribili . Salomon quoque in Prouerbiis : si ceciderit inimicus tuus, noli gratulari : in subplantatione autem eius noli extolli, ne uideat dominus et non placeat ei, et auertat iram suam ab eo , id est ne perspiciens elationem cordis tui ab eius inpugnatione discedat, et incipias derelictus ab eo rursus illa quam per dei gratiam ante superaueras passione uexari.

15.2. For the prophet would not have prayed in these words, “Deliver not up to beasts, O Lord, the soul that confesseth to Thee,”(Ps. 73 (74):19) unless he had known that because of their pride of heart some were given over again to those vices which they had overcome, in order that they might be humbled. Wherefore it is well for us both to be certified by actual experience, and also to be instructed by countless passages of Scripture, that we cannot possibly overcome such mighty foes in our own strength, and unless supported by the aid of God alone; and that we ought always to refer the whole of our victory each day to God Himself, as the Lord Himself also gives us instruction by Moses on this very point: “Say not in thine heart when the Lord thy God shall have destroyed them in thy sight: For my righteousness hath the Lord brought me in to possess this land, whereas these nations are destroyed for their wickedness.

2. Non enim orasset propheta dicens : ne tradas, domine, bestiis animam confitentem tibi , nisi scisset propter inflationem cordis quosdam, ut humilientur, eisdem rursus uitiis quae uicerant tradi. Quamobrem certos esse nos conuenit tam ipsis rerum experimentis quam innumeris scripturae testimoniis eruditos, nostris nos uiribus, nisi dei solius auxilio fulciamur, tantos hostes superare non posse et ad ipsum cotidie summam uictoriae nostrae referre debere, ita super hoc quoque per Moysen domino conmonente : ne dicas in corde tuo, cum deleuerit eas dominus deus tuus in conspectu tuo : propter iustitiam meam introduxit me dominus ut terram hanc possiderem, cum propter impietates suas istae deletae sint nationes.

15.3. For it is not for thy righteousness, and the uprightness of thine heart, that thou shalt go in to possess their lands: but because they have done wickedly they are destroyed at thy coming in.”(Deut. 9:4, 5) I ask what could be said clearer in opposition to that impious notion and impertinence of ours, in which we want to ascribe everything that we do to our own free will and our own exertions? “Say not,” he tells us, “in thine heart, when the Lord thy God shall have destroyed them in thy sight: For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land.”

3. Neque enim propter iustitias tuas et aequitatem cordis tui tu ingrederis, ut possideas terras earum : sed quia illae egerunt impie, introeunte te deletae sunt . Rogo, quid apertius potuit dici contra perniciosam opinionem praesumptionemque nostram, qua totum quod agimus uel libero arbitrio uel nostrae uolumus industriae deputare? Ne dicas, inquit, in corde tuo, cum deleuerit eas dominus deus tuus in conspectu tuo : propter iustitiam meam introduxit me dominus ut terram hanc possiderem.

15.4. To those who have their eyes opened and their ears ready to hearken does not this plainly say: When your struggle with carnal vices has gone well for you, and you see that you are free from the filth of them, and from the fashions of this world, do not be puffed up by the success of the conflict and victory and ascribe it to your own power and wisdom, nor fancy that you have gained the victory over spiritual wickedness and carnal sins through your own exertions and energy, and free will? For there is no doubt that in all this you could not possibly have succeeded, unless you had been fortified and protected by the help of the Lord.

4. Nonne his qui oculos animae reseratos et aures habent ad audiendum euidenter expressit : cum tibi prospere uitiorum carnalium bella successerint et uideris te de ipsorum caeno et conuersatione mundi istius liberatum, non tuae id uirtuti nec sapientiae prouentu pugnae atque uictoriae inflatus adscribas, credens te propter labores et studium tuum et arbitrii libertatem de spiritalibus nequitiis uel carnalibus uitiis obtinuisse uictoriam? Quibus procul dubio in nullo penitus praeualere potuisses, nisi te domini conmunisset ac protexisset auxilium.



CHAPTER 16 Of the meaning of the seven nations of whose lands Israel took possession, and the reason why they are sometimes spoken of as “seven,” and sometimes as “many.”

CAPUT XVI. De significatione septem gentium quarum Israel accepit terras, et quare alibi septem et alibi multae gentes esse dicantur.



16.1. THESE are the seven nations whose lands the Lord promised to give to the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt. And everything which, as the Apostle says, happened to them “in a figure”(Cf. 1 Cor. 10:6) we ought to take as written for our correction. For so we read: “When the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land, which thou art going in to possess, and shall have destroyed many nations before thee, the Hittite, and the Girgashites, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations much more numerous than thou art and much stronger than thou: and the Lord thy God shall have delivered them to thee, thou shalt utterly destroy them.”(Deut. 7:1, 2)

XVI. Hae sunt septem gentes quarum terras egressis ex Aegypto filiis Israhel daturum se dominus repromittit. Quae omnia secundum apostolum cum in figura contigerint illis , ad nostram commonitionem scripta debemus accipere. Ita enim dicitur : cum introduxerit te dominus deus tuus in terram, quam possessurus ingrederis, et deleuerit gentes multas coram te, Ethaeum et Gergesaeum et Amorraeum, Chananaeum, et Ferezaeum, et Euaeum, et Iebusaeum, septem gentes multo maioris numeri quam tu es, et robustiores te : tradideritque eas dominus tibi, percuties eas usque ad internicionem .

16.2. And the reason that they are said to be much more numerous, is that vices are many more in number than virtues and so in the list of them the nations are reckoned as seven in number, but when the attack upon them is spoken of they are set down without their number being given, for thus we read “And shall have destroyed many nations before thee.” For the race of carnal passions which springs from this sevenfold incentive and root of sin, is more numerous than that of Israel.

2. Quod uero multo maioris numeri esse dicuntur, haec ratio est, quia plura sunt uitia quam uirtutes. Et ideo in catalogo quidem dinumerantur septem nationes, in expugnatione uero earum sine numeri adscriptione ponuntur. Ita enim dicitur : et deleuerit gentes multas coram te. Numerosior enim est quam Israhel carnalium passionum populus, qui de hoc septenario fomite uitiorum ac radice procedit.

16.3. For thence spring up murders, strifes, heresies, thefts, false witness, blasphemy, surfeiting, drunkenness, back-biting, buffoonery, filthy conversation, lies, perjury, foolish talking, scurrility, restlessness, greediness, bitterness, clamour, wrath, contempt, murmuring, temptation, despair, and many other vices, which it would take too long to describe. And if we are inclined to think these small matters, let us hear what the Apostle thought about them, and what was his opinion of them: “Neither murmur ye,” says he, “as some of them murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer:” and of temptation: “Neither let us tempt Christ as some of them tempted and perished by the serpents.”(1 Cor. 10:9, 10) Of backbiting: “Love not backbiting lest thou be rooted out.”(Prov. 20:13 [LXX]) And of despair: “Who despairing have given themselves up to lasciviousness unto the working of all error, in uncleanness.”(Eph. 4:19)

3. Exinde enim pullulant homicidia, contentiones, haereses, furta, falsa testimonia, blasphemiae, comessationes, ebrietates, detractiones, ludicra, turpiloquia, mendacia, periuria, stultiloquia, scurrilitas, inquietudo, rapacitas, amaritudo, clamor, indignatio, contemptus, murmuratio, temptatio, desperatio multaque alia quae conmemorare perlongum est. Quae cum a nobis leuia iudicentur, quid de illis apostolus senserit uel quam super his sententiam tulerit audiamus : neque murmuraueritis, inquit, sicut quidam illorum murmurauerunt et perierunt ab exterminatore , et de temptatione : neque temptemus Christum, sicut quidam illorum temptauerunt et a serpentibus perierunt , de detractione : noli diligere detrahere, ne eradiceris , et de desperatione : qui desperantes semet ipsos tradiderunt inpudicitiae in operationem omnis erroris, in inmunditiam .

16.4. And that clamour is condemned as well as anger and indignation and blasphemy, the words of the same Apostle teach us as clearly as possible when he thus charges us: “Let all bitterness, and anger, and indignation, and clamour, and blasphemy be put away from you with all malice,”(Eph. 4:31) and many more things like these. And though these are far more numerous than the virtues are, yet if those eight principal sins, from which we know that these naturally proceed, are first overcome, all these at once sink down, and are destroyed together with them with a lasting destruction.

4. Quod uero clamor sicut ira et indignatio et blasphemia condemnetur, eiusdem apostoli uocibus manifestissime perdocemur ita praecipientis : omnis amaritudo et ira et indignatio et clamor et blasphemia tollatur a uobis cum omni malitia , aliaque conplura his similia. Quae cum sint multo maioris numeri quam uirtutes, deuictis tamen illis octo principalibus uitiis, ex quorum natura eas certum est emanare, omnes protinus conquiescunt ac perpetua pariter cum his internicione delentur.

c16_ Order of Vices - Gluttony is Foundation (5.16.5)


[8] Gluttony as the Foundation
of the Other Vices




16.5. For


 from gluttony proceed [1] surfeiting and [2] drunkenness.

From fornication [1] filthy conversation, [2] scurrility, [3] buffoonery and [4] foolish talking.

From covetousness, [1] lying, [2] deceit, [3] theft, [4] perjury, [5] the desire of filthy lucre, [6] false witness, [7] violence, [8] inhumanity, and [9] greed.

De gastrimargia namque nascuntur comessationes, ebrietates :

de fornicatione turpiloquia, scurrilitas, ludicra ac stultiloquia

 : de filargyria mendacium, fraudatio, furta, periuria, turpis lucri adpetitus, falsa testimonia, uiolentiae, inhumanitas ac rapacitas :

From anger, [1] murders, [2] clamour and [3] indignation.

From gloominess, [1] rancor, [2] cowardice, [3] bitterness, [4] despair.

From acedia, [1] laziness, [2] sleepiness, [3] rudeness, [4] restlessness, [5] wandering about, [6] instability both of mind and body, [7] chattering, [8] inquisitiveness.

From vainglory, [1] contention, [2] heresies, [3] boasting and [4] confidence in novelties.

From pride, [1] contempt, [2] envy, [3] disobedience, [4] blasphemy, [5] murmuring, [6backbiting.

de ira homicidia, clamor et indignatio :

de tristitia rancor, pusillanimitas, amaritudo, desperatio :

de acedia otiositas, somnolentia, inportunitas, inquietudo, peruagatio, instabilitas mentis et corporis, uerbositas, curiositas :

 de cenodoxia contentiones, haereses, iactantia ac praesumptio nouitatum :

de superbia contemptus, inuidia, inoboedientia, blasphemia, murmuratio, detractio, quod autem hae pestes etiam robustiores sint, manifeste naturae ipsius inpugnatione sentimus.

16.6. And that all these plagues are stronger than we, we can tell very plainly from the way in which they attack us. For the delight in carnal passions wars more powerfully in our members than does the desire for virtue, which is only gained with the greatest contrition of heart and body. But if you will only gaze with the eyes of the spirit on those countless hosts of our foes, which the Apostle enumerates where he says: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places,”(Eph. 4:12) and this which we find of the righteous man in the ninetieth Psalm: “A thousand shall fall beside thee and ten thousand at thy right hand,”(Ps. 90 (91):7) then you will clearly see that they are far more numerous and more powerful than are we, carnal and earthly creatures as we are, while to them is given a substance which is spiritual and incorporeal.

6. Fortior enim militat in membris nostris oblectatio carnalium passionum quam studia uirtutum, quae non nisi summa contritione cordis et corporis adquiruntur. Si autem et illas innumerabiles hostium cateruas spiritalibus oculis contempleris, quas beatus apostolus enumerat dicens : non est nobis conluctatio aduersus carnem et sanguinem, sed aduersus principatus, aduersus potestates, aduersus mundi rectores tenebrarum harum, contra spiritalia nequitiae in caelestibus , et illud quod de uiro iusto in nonagensimo dicitur psalmo : cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem milia a dextris tuis , liquido peruidebis, quod multo maioris sint numeri et ualidiores quam nos carnales scilicet atque terreni, quippe cum illis spiritalis atque ae¬ria concessa substantia sit.



CHAPTER 17. A question with regard to the comparison of seven nations with eight vices.

CAPUT XVII. Interrogatio de comparatione septem gentium et octo vitiorum.



17. GERMANUS: How then is it that there are eight vices which assault us, when Moses reckons the nations opposed to the people of Israel as seven, and how is it well for us to take possession of the territory of our vices?

XVII. GERMANVS : Quomodo igitur octo sunt uitia quae nos inpugnant, cum per Moysen septem dinumeratae sint gentes quae aduersantur populo Israheli, uel quemadmodum terras uitiorum conmodum nobis est possidere?



CHAPTER 18 The answer how the number of eight nations is made up in accordance with the eight vices.

CAPUT XVIII. Responsio quomodo secundum octo vitia octo gentium numerus impleatur.



18.1. SERAPION: Everybody is perfectly agreed that there are eight principal vices which affect a monk. And all of them are not included in the figure of the nations for this reason, because in Deuteronomy Moses, or rather the Lord through him, was speaking to those who had already gone forth from Egypt and been set free from one most powerful nation, I mean that of the Egyptians. And we find that this figure holds good also in our case, as when we have got clear of the snares of this world we are found to be free from gluttony, i.e., the sin of the belly and palate;

XVIII. SARAPION : Octo esse principalia uitia quae inpugnant monachum cunctorum absoluta sententia est. Quae figuraliter sub gentium uocabulo nominata idcirco nunc omnia non ponuntur, eo quod egressis iam de Aegypto et liberatis ab una gente ualidissima, id est Aegyptiorum, Moyses uel per ipsum dominus in Deuteronomio loquebatur . Quae figura in nobis quoque rectissime stare deprehenditur, qui de saeculi laqueis expediti gastrimargiae, id est uentris uel gulae uitio caruisse cognoscimur.

 c18_Moderate Fasting (5.18.2)


[9] Fasting Should be Moderate




18.2. and like them we have a conflict against these seven remaining nations, without taking account at all of the one which has been already overcome. And the land of this nation was not given to Israel for a possession, but the command of the Lord ordained that they should at once forsake it and go forth from it. And for this cause our fasts ought to be made moderate, that there may be no need for us through excessive abstinence, which results from weakness of the flesh and infirmity, to return again to the land of Egypt, i.e., to our former greed and carnal lust which we forsook when we made our renunciation of this world. And this has happened in a figure, in those who after having gone forth into the desert of virtue again hanker after the flesh pots over which they sat in Egypt.

2. Et habemus iam contra has residuas septem gentes simili ratione conflictum, prima scilicet quae iam deuicta est minime conputata. Cuius etiam terra in possessionem Israheli non datur, sed ut deserat eam perpetuo et egrediatur ab ea domini praeceptione sancitur. Et idcirco ita sunt moderanda ieiunia, ut non necesse sit per inmoderationem continentiae, quae defectione carnis uel infirmitate contracta est, deuerti rursus ad Aegyptiam terram, id est pristinam gulae et carnis concupiscentiam, quam cum mundo huic abrenuntiaremus abiecimus. Quod figuraliter illi perpessi sunt, qui egressi in solitudinem uirtutum rursus desiderauerunt ollas carnium super quas sedebant in Aegyto.



CHAPTER 19 The reason why one nation is to be forsaken, while seven are commanded to be destroyed.

CAPUT XIX. Cur unica Aegypti gens deseri, septem vero jubentur exstingui.



19.1. BUT the reason why that nation in which the children of Israel were born, was bidden not to be utterly destroyed but only to have its land forsaken, while it was commanded that these seven nations were to be completely destroyed, is this: because however great may be the ardour of spirit, inspired by which we have entered on the desert of virtues, yet we cannot possibly free ourselves entirely from the neighbourhood of gluttony or from its service and, so to speak, from daily intercourse with it. For the liking for delicacies and dainties will live on as something natural and innate in us, even though we take pains to cut off all superfluous appetites and desires, which, as they cannot be altogether destroyed, ought to be shunned and avoided.

XVIIII. Quod autem illa gens, in qua nati sunt filii Israhel, non penitus extingui, sed tantummodo deseri eius terra praecipitur, hae uero septem usque ad internicionem iubentur extingui, haec ratio est, quod quantolibet spiritus ardore succensi heremum uirtutum fuerimus ingressi, uicinitate ac ministerio gastrimargiae et quodammodo cotidiano eius conmercio nequaquam carere poterimus. Sempter enim in nobis edulii et escarum ut ingenitus ac naturalis uiuet adfectus, licet amputare superfluos eius adpetitus ac desideria festinemus : quae sicut per omnia deleri non possunt, ita debent quadam declinatione uitari.

19.2. For of these we read “Take no care for the flesh with its desires.”(Rom. 13:14) While then we still retain the feeling for this care, which we are bidden not altogether to cut off, but to keep without its desires, it is clear that we do not destroy the Egyptian nation but separate ourselves in a sort of way from it, not thinking anything about luxuries and delicate feasts, but, as the Apostle says, being “content with our daily food and clothing.”(Cf. 1 Tim. 6:8)

2. De hac enim dicitur : et carnis curam ne feceritis in desideriis . Dum huius ergo curae quam praecipimur non per omnia abscidere, sed absque desideriis exhibere, retinemus affectum, euidenter Aegyptiam nationem non extinguimus, sed ad ipsa quadam discretione separamur, non de superfluis seu lautioribus epulis cogitantes, sed secundum apostolum uictu cotidiano indumentoque contenti .

19.3. And this is commanded in a figure in the law, in this way: “Thou shalt not abhor the Egyptian, because thou wast a stranger in his land.”(Deut. 23:7) For necessary food is not refused to the body without danger to it and sinfulness in the soul. But of those seven troublesome vices we must in every possible way root out the affections from the inmost recesses of our souls. For of them we read: “Let all bitterness and anger and indignation and clamour and blasphemy be put away from you with all malice:” and again: “But fornication and all uncleanness and covetousness let it not so much as be named among you, or obscenity or foolish talking or scurrility.”(Eph. 4:31; 5:3, 4)

3. Quod ita figuraliter etiam in lege mandatur : non abominaberis Aegyptium, quia fuisti incola in terra eius . Necessarius enim uictus corpori non sine uel ipsius pernicie uel animae scelere denegatur. Illarum uero septem perturbationum uelut omnimodis noxiarum de recessibus animae nostrae penitus exterminandi sunt motus. De his enim ita dicitur : omnis amaritudo et ira et indignatio et clamor et blasphemia tollatur a uobis cum omni malitia , et iterum : fornicatio autem et omnis inmunditia et auaritia nec nominetur in uobis, aut turpitudo aut stultiloquium aut scurrilitas .

19.4. We can then cut out the roots of these vices which are grafted into our nature from without while we cannot possibly cut off occasions of gluttony. For however far we have advanced, we cannot help being what we were born. And that this is so we can show not only from the lives of little people like ourselves but from the lives and customs of all who have attained perfection, who even when they have got rid of incentives to all other passions, and are retiring to the desert with perfect fervour of spirit and bodily abnegation, yet still cannot do without thought for their daily meal and the preparation of their food from year to year.

4. Possumus ergo horum quae naturae superinducta sunt radices abscidere uitiorum, usum uero gastrimargiae nequaquam ualebimus amputare. Non enim possumus, quantumlibet profecerimus, id non esse quod nascimur. Quod ita esse tam nostra qui sumus exigui quam omnium perfectorum uita et conuersatione monstratur. Qui cum reliquarum passionum reciderint stimulos atque heremum toto mentis feruore et corporis expetant nuditate, nihilominus cotidiani uictus prouidentia et annui panis praeparatione nequeunt liberari.





CHAPTER 20. Of the nature of gluttony, which may be illustrated by the simile of the eagle

CAPUT XX. De natura gastrimargiae, ad similitudinem aquilae comparatae [Al. comparandae].



20. AN admirable illustration of this passion, with which a monk, however spiritual and excellent, is sure to be hampered, is found in the simile of the eagle. For this bird when in its flight on high it has soared above the highest clouds, and has withdrawn itself from the eyes of all mortals and from the face of the whole earth, is yet compelled by the needs of the belly to drop down and descend to the earth and feed upon carrion and dead bodies. And this clearly shows that the spirit of gluttony cannot be altogether extirpated like all other vices, nor be entirely destroyed like them, but that we can only hold down and check by the power of the mind all incentives to it and all superfluous appetites.

XX. Huius passionis figura, qua necesse est quamuis spiritalem summumque monachum coartari, proprie satis aquilae similitudine designatur. Quae cum excelsissimo uolatu ultra nubium fuerit altitudines sublimata seseque ab oculis cunctorum mortalium ac facie terrae totius absconderit, rursus ad uallium ima submitti et ad terrena descendere ac morticinis cadaueribus inplicari uentris necessitate conpellitur. Quibus manifestissime conprobatur gastrimargiae spiritum nequaquam posse ut cetera uitia resecari uel per omnia similiter extingui, sed aculeos eius ac superfluos adpetitus uirtute animi retundi tantum atque cohiberi.



CHAPTER 21. Of the lasting character of gluttony as described to some philosophers.

CAPUT XXI. De perseverantia gastrimargiae adversus philosophos disputata.



21.1. FOR the nature of this vice was admirably expressed under cover of the following puzzle by one of the Elders in a discussion with some philosophers, who thought that they might chaff him like a country bumpkin because of his Christian simplicity. “My father,” said he, “left me in the clutches of a great many creditors. All the others I have paid in full, and have freed myself from all their pressing claims; but one I cannot satisfy even by a daily payment.”

XXI. Nam huius uitii naturam quidam senum cum philosophis disputans, qui eum pro simplicitate Christiana uelut rusticum crederent fatigandum, sub hoc problematis figurans colore eleganter expressit : multis, inquit, creditoribus pater meus me dereliquit obnoxium. Ceteris ad integrum soluens ab omni conuentionis eorum molestia liberatus sum, uni satisfacere cotidie soluendo non possum.

21.2. And when they could not see the meaning of the puzzle, and urgently begged him to explain it: “I was,” said he,” in my natural condition, encompassed by a great many vices. But when God inspired me with the longing to be free, I renounced this world, and at the same time gave up all my property which I had inherited from my father, and so I satisfied them all like pressing creditors, and freed myself entirely from them. But I was never able altogether to get rid of the incentives to gluttony.

2. Cumque illi ignorantes uim propositae quaestionis absolutionem eius precario postularent, multis, ait, uitiis fui naturali condicione constrictus. Sed inspirante domino desiderium libertatis cunctis illis tamquam molestissimis creditoribus renuntians huic mundo et omnem substantiam quae mihi successione patris obuenerat a me pariter abiciens satisfeci atque ab eis sum omnimodis absolutus : gastrimargiae uero stimulis nullo modo carere praeualui.

21.3. For though I reduce the quantity of food which I take to the smallest possible amount, yet I cannot avoid the force of its daily solicitations, but must be perpetually `dunned’ by it, and be making as it were interminable payments by continually satisfying it, and pay never ending toll at its demand.” Then they declared that this man, whom they had till now despised as a booby and a country bumpkin, had thoroughly grasped the first principles of philosophy, i.e., training in ethics, and they marvelled that he could by the light of nature have learnt that which no schooling in this world could have taught him, while they themselves with all their efforts and long course of training had not learnt this. This is enough on gluttony in particular. Now let us return to the discourse in which we had begun to consider the general relation of our vices to each other.

3. Nec enim quamuis eam in paruum modum uilissimamque redegerim quantitatem, uim cotidianae conpulsionis euado, sed necesse est me perpetuis eius conuentionibus perurgeri et interminabilem quandam solutionem iugi functione dependere atque inexplebile indictionibus eius inferre uectigal. Tum illi hunc, quem uelut idiotam ac rusticum ante despexerant, pronuntiauerunt primas philosophiae partes, id est ethicam disciplinam adprime conprehendisse, mirati admodum potuisse eum naturaliter adsequi quod nulla ei saecularis eruditio contulisset, cum ipsi sudore multo longaque doctrina ita haec adtingere nequiuissent. Haec specialiter de gastrimargia dixisse sufficiat. Nunc reuertamur ad disputationem quam de generali uitiorum cognatione coeperamus exponere.



CHAPTER 22 How it was that God foretold to Abraham that Israel would have to drive out ten nations.

CAPUT XXII. Cur Abrahae praedixerit Deus decem gentes expugnandas a populo Israel.



22. WHEN the Lord was speaking with Abraham about the future (a point which you did not ask about) we find that He did not enumerate seven nations, but ten, whose land He promised to give to his seed.(Cf. Gen. 15:18-21) And this number is plainly made up by adding idolatry, and blasphemy, to whose dominion, before the knowledge of God and the grace of Baptism, both the irreligious hosts of the Gentiles and blasphemous ones of the Jews were subject, while they dwelt in a spiritual Egypt. But when a man has made his renunciation and come forth from thence, and having by God’s grace conquered gluttony, has come into the spiritual wilderness, then he is free from the attacks of these three, and will only have to wage war against those seven which Moses enumerates.

XXII. Cum ad Abraham de futuris dominus loqueretur , quod uos minime requisistis, non septem gentes legitur dinumerasse, sed decem, quarum terra semini eius danda promittitur. Qui numerus adiecta idolatria atque blasphemia euidenter inpletur, quibus ante notitiam dei et gratiam baptismi uel inpia gentilium uel blasphema Iudaeorum multitudo subiecta est, donec in intellectuali Aegypto conmoratur. Si autem abrenuntians quis et egressus exinde per dei gratiam deuicta pariter gastrimargia ad heremum peruenerit spiritalem, de inpugnatione trium gentium liberatus contra septem tantum, quae per Moysen dinumerantur, bella suscipiet.



CHAPTER 23 How it is useful for us to take possession of their lands.

CAPUT XXIII. Quomodo utile nobis sit vitiorum terras possidere.



23.1. BUT the fact that we are bidden for our good to take possession of the countries of those most wicked nations, may be understood in this way. Each vice has its own especial corner in the heart, which it claims for itself in the recesses of the soul, and drives out Israel, i.e., the contemplation of holy and heavenly things, and never ceases to oppose them. For virtues cannot possibly live side by side with vices. “For what participation hath righteousness with unrighteousness? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness?”(2 Cor. 6:14)

XXIII. Quod uero istarum perniciosarum gentium regiones salubriter possidere praecipimur, ita intellegitur. Habet unumquodque uitium in corde nostro propriam stationem, quam sibi uindicans in animae nostrae recessu exterminat Israhelem, id est contemplationem rerum summarum atque sanctarum, eisque semper aduersari non desinit. Non enim possunt uirtutes cum uitiis pariter conmorari. Quae enim participatio iustitiae cum iniquitate? Aud quae societas luci cum tenebris ?

23.2. But as soon as these vices have been overcome by the people of Israel, i.e., by those virtues which war against them, then at once the place in our heart which the spirit of concupiscence and fornication had occupied, will be filled by chastity. That which wrath had held, will be claimed by patience. That which had been occupied by a sorrow that worketh death, will be taken by a godly sorrow and one full of joy. That which had been wasted by acedia, will at once be tilled by courage. That which pride had trodden down will be ennobled by humility: and so when each of these vices has been expelled, their places (that is the tendency towards them) will be filled by the opposite virtues which are aptly termed the children of Israel, that is, of the soul that seeth God: and when these have expelled all passions from the heart we may believe that they have recovered their own possessions rather than invaded those of others.

2. Sed cum ab Israhelis populo, id est uirtutibus contra se dimicantibus fuerint uitia superata, locum quem sibi in corde nostro concupiscentiae uel fornicationis spiritus retentabat, deinceps castitas obtinebit : quem furor ceperat, patientia uindicabit : quem tristitia mortem operans occupauerat, salutaris et plena gaudio tristitia possidebit : quem acedia uastabat, incipiet excolere fortitudo : quem superbia conculcabat, humilitas honestabit. Et ita singulis uitiis expulsis eorum loca, id est adfectus, uirtutes contrariae possidebunt, quae filii Israhelis, id est animae uidentis deum non inmerito nuncupantur. Qui cum uniuersas cordis expulerint passiones, non tam alienas possessiones peruasisse quam proprias recuperasse credendi sunt.



CHAPTER 24. How the lands from which the Canaanites were expelled,had been assigned to the seed of Shem.

CAPUT XXIV. Quod terrae de quibus expulsi sunt populi Chananaeorum, semini Sem fuerint deputatae.



24.1. FOR, as an ancient tradition tells us, these same lands of the Canaanites into which the children of Israel were brought, had been formerly allotted to the children of Shem at the division of the world, and afterward the descendants of Ham wickedly invading them with force and violence took possession of them. And in this the righteous judgment of God is shown, as He expelled from the land of others these who had wrongfully taken possession of them, and restored to those others the ancient property of their fathers which had been assigned to their ancestors at the division of the world.

XXIIII. Etenim quantum docet uetus traditio, has easdem terras Chananaeorum, in quas introducuntur filii Israhelis, filii Sem fuerant quondam in orbis diuisione sortiti, quas deinceps per uim atque potentiam posteritas Cham peruasionis iniquitate possedit. In quo et dei iudicium rectissimum conprobatur, qui et illos de locis alienis quae male occupauerant expulit, et istis antiquam patrum possessionem, quae prosapiae eorum in diuisione orbis fuerat deputata, restituit.

24.2. And we can perfectly well see that this figure holds good in our own case. For by nature God’s will assigned the possession of our heart not to vices but to virtues, which, after the fall of Adam were driven out from their own country by the sins which grew up, i.e., by the Canaanites; and so when by God’s grace they are by our efforts and labour restored again to it, we may hold that they have not occupied the territory of another, but rather have recovered their own country.

2. Quae figura in nobis quoque stare certissima ratione cognoscitur. Nam uoluntas domini possessionem cordis nostri non uitiis, sed uirtutibus naturaliter deputauit. Quae post praeuaricationem Adae insolescentibus uitiis, id est populis Chananeis a propria regione depulsae cum ei rursum per dei gratiam diligentia nostra ac labore fuerint restitutae, non tam alienas occupasse terras quam proprias credendae sunt recepisse.

 c25_Alternate Order beginning with Pride (5.25-5.27)


[10] A Different Model of Vicious Descent, Beginning with Pride (rather than gluttony)




CHAPTER 25 Different passages of Scripture on the meaning of the eight vices.

CAPUT XXV. Testimonia diversa super significatione octo vitiorum.



25.1. AND in reference to these eight vices we also have the following in the gospel: “But when the unclean spirit is gone out from a man, he walketh through dry places seeking rest and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return to my house from whence I came out: and coming he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished: then he goeth and taketh seven other spirits worse than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is made worse than the first.”(Matt. 12:43-45) Lo, just as in the former passages we read of seven nations besides that of the Egyptians from which the children of Israel had gone forth, so here too seven unclean spirits are said to return beside that one which we first hear of as going forth from the man.

XXV. De his octo uitiis et in euangelio ita significatur : cum autem inmundus spiritus exierit ab homine, ambulat per loca arida quaerens requiem, et non inuenit. Tunc dicit : reuertar in domum meam unde exiui : et ueniens inuenit uacantem, scopis mundatam et ornatam : tunc uadit et adsumit alios spiritus septem nequiores se, et intrantes habitant ibi : et fiunt nouissima hominis illius peiora prioribus . Ecce ut ibi septem gentes legimus excepta Aegyptiorum de qua egressi fuerant filii Israhel, ita et hic septem reuerti spiritus dicuntur inmundi excepto eo qui ab homine prius narratur egressus.

25.2. And of this sevenfold incentive of sins Solomon gives the following account in Proverbs: “If thine enemy speak loud to thee, do not agree to him because there are seven mischiefs in his heart;”(Prov. 26:25 [LXX]) i.e., if the spirit of gluttony is overcome and begins to flatter you with having humiliated it, asking in a sort of way that you would relax something of the fervour with which you began, and yield to it something beyond what the due limits of abstinence, and measure of strict severity would allow, do not you be overcome by its submission, nor return in fancied security from its assaults, as you seem to have become for a time freed from carnal desires, to your previous state of carelessness or former liking for good things. For through this the spirit whom you have vanquished is saying “I will return to my house from whence I came out,” and forthwith the seven spirits of sins which proceed from it will prove to you more injurious than that passion which in the first instance you overcame, and will presently drag you down to worse kinds of sins.

2. De hoc septenario fomite uitiorum Salomon quoque in Prouerbiis ita describit : si te rogauerit inimicus uoce magna, ne consenseris et : septem enim nequitiae sunt in anima eius : id est si superatus gastrimargiae spiritus coeperit tibi sua humiliatione blandiri, rogans quodammodo ut aliquid relaxans a coepto feruore inpertias ei quod continentiae modum et mensuram iustae districtionis excedat, ne resoluaris eius subiectione nec adridente inpugnationis securitate, qua uideris paulisper a carnalibus incentiuis factus quietior, ad pristinam remissionem uel praeteritas gulae concupiscentias reuertaris. Per hoc enim dicit spiritus ille quem uiceras : reuertar in domum meam unde exiui, et procedentes ex eo confestim septem spiritus uitiorum erunt tibi acriores quam illa passio quae in primordiis fuerat superata, qui te mox ad deteriora pertrahent genera peccatorum.



CHAPTER 26 How when we have got the better of the passion of gluttony we must take pains to gain all the other virtues.

CAPUT XXVI. Quod, devicta passione gulae, impendendus sit labor ad virtutes caeteras obtinendas.



26.1. WHEREFORE while we are practising fasting and abstinence, we must be careful when we have got the better of the passion of gluttony never to allow our mind to remain empty of the virtues of which we stand in need; but we should the more earnestly fill the inmost recesses of our heart with them for fear lest the spirit of concupiscence should return and find us empty and void of them, and should not be content to secure an entrance there for himself alone, but should bring in with him into our heart this sevenfold incentive of sins and make our last state worse than the first.

XXVI. Quapropter ieiuniis et continentiae incubantibus nobis festinandum est, ut gulae passione superata protinus animam nostram uacuam esse a necessariis uirtutibus non sinamus, sed eis uniuersos recessus cordis nostri studiosius occupemus, ne reuersus concupiscentiae spiritus inanes nos ab ipsis uacantesque repperiat et non sibi iam soli aditum parare contentus introducat secum in animam nostram septenarium hunc fomitem uitiorum et faciat nouissima nostra peiora prioribus.

26.2. For the soul which boasts that it has renounced this world with the eight vices that hold sway over it, will afterwards be fouler and more unclean and visited with severer punishments, than it was when formerly it was at home in the world, when it had taken upon itself neither the rules nor the name of monk. For these seven spirits are said to be worse than the first which went forth, for this reason; because the love of good things, i.e., gluttony would not be in itself harmful, were it not that it opened the door to other passions; namely, to fornication, covetousness, anger, gloominess, and pride, which are clearly hurtful in themselves to the soul, and domineering over it. And therefore a man will never be able to gain perfect purity, if he hopes to secure it by means of abstinence alone, i.e., bodily fasting, unless he knows that he ought to practise it for this reason that when the flesh is brought low by means of fasting, he may with greater ease enter the lists against other vices, as the flesh has not been habituated to gluttony and surfeiting.

2. Turpior enim erit post haec et inmundior anima ac supplicio grauiore plectetur, quae se renuntiasse huic saeculo gloriatur dominantibus sibi octo uitiis, quam fuerat quondam in saeculo constituta, cum nec disciplinam monachi fuisset professa nec nomen. Nam et nequiores hi septem spiritus illo priore qui egressus fuerat idcirco dicuntur, quia desiderium gulae, id est gastrimargia per sese non esset noxia, nisi intromitteret grauiores alias passiones, id est fornicationis, filargyriae, irae, tristitiae siue superbiae, quae per semet noxia animae ac peremptoria esse non dubium est. 3. Et idcirco perfectionis puritatem numquam poterit obtinere, quisquis eam de hac sola continentia, id est ieiunio corporali sperauerit adquirendam, nisi nouerit ob id se hanc exercere debere, ut humiliata carne ieiuniis facilius possit aduersus alia uitia inire certamen non insolescente carne saturitatis ingluuie.



CHAPTER 27. That our battles are not fought with our vices in the same order as that in which they stand in the list.

CAPUT XXVII. Quod non idem ordo praeliorum sit, qui vitiorum.



27.1. BUT you must know that our battles are not all fought in the same order, because, as we mentioned that the attacks are not always made on us in the same way, each one of us ought also to begin the battle with due regard to the character of the attack which is especially made on him so that one man will have to fight his first battle against the vice which stands third on the list, another against that which is fourth or fifth. And in proportion as vices hold sway over us, and the character of their attack may demand, so we too ought to regulate the order of our conflict, in such a way that the happy result of a victory and triumph succeeding may insure our attainment of purity of heart and complete perfection.

XXVII. Sciendum tamen non eundem esse in omnibus nobis ordinem proeliorum, quia sicut diximus non uno modo inpugnamur omnes, et oportet unumquemque nostrum secundum qualitatem belli quo principaliter infestatur concertationum luctamen adripere, ita ut alium necesse sit aduersus uitium quod tertium ponitur primum exercere conflictum, alium contra quartum siue quintum. Et ita prout ipsa uitia in nobis obtinent principatum utque inpugnationis exigit modus, nos quoque oportet ordinem instituere proeliorum, secundum quem prouentus quoque uictoriae triumphique succedens faciet nos ad puritatem cordis et perfectionis plenitudinem peruenire.

27.2. Thus far did Abbot Serapion discourse to us of the nature of the eight principal vices, and so clearly did he expound the different sorts of passions which are latent within us – the origin and connexion of which, though we were daily tormented by them, we could never before thoroughly understand and perceive – that we seemed almost to see them spread out before our eyes as in a mirror.

2. Huc usque abbas Sarapion de natura octo principalium uitiorum nobis disserens latentium in corde nostro passionum genera, quarum causas atque adfinitates, cum ab ipsis cotidie uastaremur, nec cognoscere penitus antea nec discernere poteramus, ita lucide reserauit, ut eas quodammodo ante oculos positas intueri nobis uelut in speculo uideremur.



This discussion of the eight principal vices is a reminder that temptation is still a reality after significant spiritual progress has been made.  This is part of the Conferences, a text ostensibly for contemplatives, inviting a more detailed understanding of the nature and effects of the vices, and how they interact and even build upon each other.  He demonstrates great philosophical and psychological subtlety, discussing how the experience of temptation and resistance to temptation works in the human heart. He invites the reader to not only learn from the experience of others, but to ask themselves which is their own personal weaknesses, and to which temptations and vices they are especially prone: “Each should explore which is his besetting vice” (5.14.1)[1]  As an aid to this he subdivides the vices into those that are natural to us, such as gluttony, and those that arise not from nature but from society and experience, such as avarice, understood as the desire for money (philargyria – love of silver), which must be learned.  Following Aristotle[2] he points out that for many temptations there may be a vice of excess or deficiency, and often a ranges of indulgence, from mental dallying to physical expression, and from solitary to social expression (Conf. 5.3).  He points out, as did his teacher Evagrius, that in the battle against vice, sometimes one temptation may be used to combat another: thus vainglory may sometimes be used to combat baser temptations, such as lust (Conf. 5.12).[3]  He describes a common sequence, a sort of cascade of vices according to which indulgence in one naturally leads to, and renders one less able to resist, the next (Conf. 5.10).  Having discerned the deeper nature of vice, both in theory and in self-reflection, one should turn to Christ, whose temptation in the wilderness symbolizes victory over temptation[4] (Conf. 5.5-5.6), and from whom alone one must receive the grace to achieve similar victories (5.15).



1.Carnal & Spir.Vice 2 classes and fourfold manner of acting (5.3)
Two kinds: natural to us and outside of nature;  four ways of acting: (1) require body; (2) no act required; (3) result from our reactions to things outside of us; (4)

2. Christ Tempted - Archetype of  Victory Over Temptation (5.5-5.6); here victor over gluttony. Pride, vainglory; in Evagrius (On Thoughts) is gluttony, avarice, vainglory

3. Unique Characteristics of 6 Spiritual Vices (5.7-5.9)

4. Order of Vices  - Cascade and Reinforcement (5.10); six vices linked in cascade: gluttony; fornication; avarice; anger; dejection; acedia

5. Subtypes of the Eight Vices (5.11): (1) Gluttony of inappropriate times; eating too much; delicacies; (2) physical and spiritual adultery; (3) anger – interior. expressed; nursed inwardly; (4) sadness from loss or despair; (5) acedia ; inert and agitated; (6) vainglory concerning external or spiritual things

5.5. Use Vainglory Against Lust (5.12) (Evagrius Praktikos 58)

6.  Discover Own Weakness (5.13 - 5.14)) “Each should explore which is his besetting vice” (5.14.1) unusquisque uitium quo maxime infestatur explorans;

7. Rely on Grace (5.15)

8. Order of Vices - Gluttony is Foundation (5.16.5)

9. Moderate Fasting (5.18.2)

10. Alternate Order beginning with Pride (5.25-5.27)


[1] unusquisque uitium quo maxime infestatur explorans (Conf. 5.14.1)

[2] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book II.2-II.7.

[3] Evagrius called this “driving out a nail with a nail”, Praktikos 58.  This approach was criticized by later spiritual authors such as John Climacus, who thought it rash and dangerous.

[4] For Cassian Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness symbolize and impart to us victory over gluttony, pride, and vainglory (Conf. 5.6.1-5.6.2).  An almost identical interpretation is found in Evagrius, On Thoughts 1, where the association is with the “tempting-thoughts” (logosmoi) of gluttony, avarice, and vainglory.


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