The seven deadly sins – can they be changed into virtues?

By Jena Griffiths | May 18, 2012
I was talking to a friend the other day about the seven deadly sins and how years ago I’d read a fairytale about how they could be transmuted. He sent me this brilliant contemporary take on these 7 from Digg and also an excellent book The Virtue in the Vice – finding the seven lively virtues in the seven deadly sins by Robin Meyers.
How do the two compare?
Meyers says instead of pride, worthiness.
Emulation, not envy.
Righteous indignation instead of anger
Holy eros instead of lust
communion instead of gluttony
Wanting wisely instead of greed
and contentment instead of sloth

The transmutation recommended in the fairytale is quite similar:

In the fairytale here’s how the 7 transmute:
pride becomes courage,
envy turns to emulation,
gluttony becomes appetite,
avarice becomes economy,
anger turns into vivacity,
idleness into meditation,
and lust becomes love.

When you think about it, what’s the difference between the virtue and the vice?
A vice is an end in itself.
It becomes positive when it’s no longer an end in itself but rather a means to a higher end.

I went digging and re-found the fairytale, it’s from a Belgian tale called “The last adventure of Thyl Ulenspiegel”
(Published in Fairytales from Many Lands, Heinemann, 1974 with beautiful illustrations by Arthur Rackham.)

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