Pride Takes God from Man

“Now these are: first, pride; second, envy; third, anger; fourth, despair; fifth, covetousness, sixth, gluttony; seventh, lust.  Of these, three despoil man (hominem); the fourth scourges him when despoiled; the fifth ejects him when scourged; the sixth seduces him when ejected; the seventh subjects him to slavery when seduced.  Pride takes God from man; envy takes his neighbour; anger takes himself; despair scourges him when despoiled; the fifth ejects him when scourged; the sixth seduces him when rejected; the seventh subjects him to slavery when seduced.  The rational soul in its health is a solid and sound vessel having no corruption, and when its vices come into this they vitiate and corrupt it in this way:  it is puffed up by pride, is made dry by envy, is made noisy by anger, is broken by despair, is dispersed by covetousness, is corrupted by gluttony, is crushed by lust and reduced to mud.  Pride is love of one’s own excellence. Despair is sadness born from confusion of the mind, or weariness and immoderate bitterness of the spirit by which spiritual enjoyment is extinguished, and by a kind of beginning of desperation the mind is overthrown within itself.  Covetousness is the immoderate appetite to possess.  Gluttony is the immoderate appetite to eat.  Lust is the excessive desire to experience pleasure, that is, the longing for coition (concubitus) beyond measure or burning beyond reason.”   Hugh of St Victor, On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith II. 13. 1 trans. Roy J. Deferrari (Mediaeval Academy of America, 1951), p. 375.  Latin Text is in Patrologia Latina 176:525-526. [Emphasis added]

Hugh of St Victor wrote this work in the first half of the twelfth century.  His work represents the theological instruction in Paris during that significant period in the development of medieval Christian thought.  In this section Hugh examines vices and their effects on the soul.  Following the Augustinian tradition and similar to his contemporaries, he emphasized pride as the root of other vices. (Augustine Defined Pride) Hugh continued in the following manner:

“There are two kinds of pride, one internal, the other is external.  Pride in internal, boasting external.  Pride is internal, boasting external.  Pride is in elation of the heart; boasting is in ostentation of work.  Pride in that it pleases itself despises the testimony of another.  But boasting, that it may please itself the more, seeks the testimony of another.  Thus boasting counterfeits itself by fawning smoothness; pride shows itself truly cruel in inflation.  For pride desires to be feared, boasting to be loved, and yet both in that they seek perversely what it pleasing to themselves, although in different ways, are persuaded to glorify themselves inordinately.  If anyone then should compute pride and boasting under one member, he will find seven capital vices from which all sins, that is, the acts of iniquity and the works of injustice, arise.” Ibid., 375-376; PL 176: 526.

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