From the Seven Political
Virtues in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico.
The Seven Heavenly Virtues is a classic interpretation of seven
basic concepts that will lead your soul to glory. They differ somewhat from the three theological virtues (love, hope, faith) and the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude) combined.
In alphabetical order, here are the big seven (each of which conveniently corresponds to one of the Seven Deadly Sins
), along with some trope examples demonstrating each. Note that this is just one list; there are plenty
of others, as shown below.
- Charity (Latin: Caritas): Being Generous Towards Others. A willingness, or even desire, to help others and better the world, no matter the cost to your personal self. The path of a graceful and noble spirit. The Good Samaritan is this virtue personified. Generosity, charity, self-sacrifice; the term should not be confused with the more restricted modern use of the word charity to mean benevolent giving. In Christian theology, charity—or love (agäpé) — is the greatest of the three theological virtues. Love, in the sense of an unlimited loving kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God. Such love is self-sacrificial. Confusion can arise from the multiple meanings of the English word "love". The love that is "caritas" is distinguished by its origin – being divinely infused into the soul – and by its residing in the will rather than emotions, regardless of what emotions it stirs up. This love is necessary for salvation, and with it no one can be lost. This virtue is the mainstay of The Atoner, and Hurting Hero. An extremely strong sense of Charity, to the point that it overcomes common sense, becomes Honor Before Reason. Using this virtue as an excuse for suicidal tendencies or poor planning results in Martyr Without a Cause, although in a Martyrdom Culture this virtue will more easily extend to a Death Seeker. Tropes associated with Charity include Samaritan Syndrome, All-Loving Hero, Ideal Hero, Chronic Hero Syndrome, The Dulcinea Effect, The Hero, The Heart, Friend to All Living Things, Friend to All Children, The Pollyanna, Too Good for This Sinful Earth, Messianic Archetype. The angel who embodies the virtue of Charity is Michael. Opposite of Greed.
- Chastity (Latin: Castitas): Being Unhindered by Worldly Desires. The ability to overcome temptation and show self-discipline. Note that the fulfillment of the virtue is not through lack of being tempted, but rather of making the conscious decision to better yourself rather than do what you know is morally wrong. Abstaining from sexual conduct according to one's state in life; the practice of courtly love and romantic friendship. Cleanliness through cultivated good health and hygiene, and maintained by refraining from intoxicants. To be honest with oneself, one's family, one's friends, and to all of humanity. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought-through education and betterment. The ability to refrain from being distracted and influenced by hostility, temptation or corruption. Tropes associated with Chastity include Knight in Shining Armor types, The Fettered, Chaste Hero, Celibate Hero, Heroic Vow, Heroic Resolve, Asexuality, The Ingenue, Purity Sue, Incorruptible Pure Pureness, Virgin Power, The Paragon, Only the Pure of Heart. The angel who embodies the virtue of Chastity is Uriel. Opposite of Lust.
- Diligence (Latin: Industria): Being Steadfast in Work. Despite the problems that surface, no matter what stands in their way, one with this virtue will accomplish their goals and stay true to their core beliefs. If there is work to be done, they will do their best to get it finished, and properly. A zealous and careful nature in one's actions and work; decisive work ethic, steadfastness in belief, fortitude, and the capability of not giving up. Budgeting one's time; monitoring one's own activities to guard against laziness. Upholding one's convictions at all times, especially when no one else is watching (integrity). Tropes associated with Diligence include The Cape, The Captain, The Good King, The High Queen, The Wise Prince, The Paladin, The Paragon, The Patriarch, Reasonable Authority Figure, The Good Chancellor, Benevolent Boss, and those that have Jumped at the Call. This is also the virtue most likely to be held by the Anti-Hero. The angel who embodies the virtue of Diligence is Gabriel. Opposite of Sloth.
- Humility (Latin: Humilitas): Being Modest in Self. What is fame, but a trapping for the weak? While those with this virtue may not seem like much at first, when all bets are down they will triumph over the loud and crass - if not in sheer power, then at least in poise. This virtue in its purest form is not self-hatred (a common mistake made by those with good intentions but self-esteem problems), but rather a sense of inner knowledge that one does not need to prove their greatness/badassitude to the outside world to actually be great/Badass. Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. It is a spirit of self-examination; a hermeneutic of suspicion toward yourself and charity toward people you disagree with. The courage of the heart necessary to undertake tasks which are difficult, tedious or unglamorous, and to graciously accept the sacrifices involved. Reverence for those who have wisdom and those who selflessly teach in love. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one's own self. Being faithful to promises, no matter how big or small they may be. Refraining from despair and the ability to confront fear and uncertainty, or intimidation. The Supporting Leader, The Cowl, and The Drifter often personify this trope. When used to an extreme, may result in Obfuscating Stupidity. The angel who embodies the virtue of Humility is Raphael. Opposite of Pride.
- Kindness (Latin: Humanitas): Being Good Towards All Life. Everything will be okay somehow! is the motto of those that follow this virtue. Whether times are good or tough, those holding this virtue true to heart will endure in wishing the best for everyone. Charity, compassion and friendship for its own sake. Empathy and trust without prejudice or resentment. Unselfish love and voluntary kindness without bias or spite. Having positive outlooks and cheerful demeanor; to inspire kindness in others. Embodied by the Broken Hero and The Pollyanna as well as the Friend to All Living Things. Leveling up this virtue to max grants the ability Care Bear Stare. While this virtue may seem light-hearted, beware: if the strength of this virtue in a cute person is not enough, yet they depend on it in the face of adversity, it will Break the Cutie. The angel who embodies the virtue of Kindness is Ramiel. Opposite of Envy.
- Patience (Latin: Patientia): Being Peaceful in Goal. A willingness to forgive and show mercy. In the face of adversity they may hesitate, but in the end they will endorse stability, reject revenge, and accept the faults of others without prejudice. Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Resolving conflicts and injustice peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. Accepting the grace to forgive; to show mercy to sinners. Creating a sense of peaceful stability and community rather than suffering, hostility, and antagonism. This virtue is almost always held by The Medic, Actual Pacifists, and the Iron Woobie. The major fight involving this virtue will involve sheathing your sword. And if, in the end, a true follower of this virtue cannot win the fight on their terms, they will Face Death with Dignity. The angel who embodies the virtue of Patience is Azriel. Opposite of Wrath.
- Temperance (Latin: Temperantia): Being Controlled in Self. The moral decision slopes encountered through life are slippery, and it is easy to descend into unintended but well intentioned extremism. Restraint, temperance, justice. Constant mindfulness of others and one's surroundings; practicing self-control, abstention, moderation and deferred gratification. Prudence to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time. Proper moderation between self-interest, versus public-interest, and against the rights and needs of others. That analogy considered, this virtue is like using crampons made out of justice. Those in command of this virtue realize the legitimacy in several different points of view, and maintain a neutral perspective dealing with issues that might cause Heroic BSOD in others. This virtue often leads to being able to Take a Third Option. This virtue is a specialty of a Badass Pacifist and usually the Guile Hero. The angel who embodies the virtue of Temperance is Samiel. Opposite of Gluttony.
Other virtues such as Justice or Faith are sometimes substituted for one of the others. The actual list is flexible, but the number seven is the important thing in direct contrast to the Seven Deadly Sins
Subtrope of Virtue/Vice Codification
. For the living personification of these (or other) virtues, see Embodiment of Virtue
. For the evil counterpart, see Seven Deadly Sins
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Anime & Manga
- A Justice Society of America storyline featuring the Marvel Family introduced the Rock of Finality, Evil Counterpart to the Rock of Eternity. Within the Rock were statues of the Seven Sacred Virtues of Man, which presumably trapped the Anthropomorphic Personifications of the Virtues in the same way as their counterparts trap the Sins. The virtues presented here are the theological/cardinal ones, rather than the more obvious direct opposites of the Seven Deadly Sins.
- In Dante's Divine Comedy, the seven virtues appear as beautiful maidens dancing around Beatrice's chariot in her triumphal procession at the end of Purgatory.
- From Terry Pratchett's Discworld: In the country of Lancre, one family went and named their daughters after the Seven Heavenly Virtues, Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence so forth. And out of a misinformed sense of continuity, named their sons along the lines of Bestiality, Anger (among others). Subverted, because each of the daughters came to embody the sin opposite of her virtuous name. Meanwhile, despite everything else, Anger is a kind and calm man, while his brother Bestiality is kind to animals. This may hve been part of a long-standing naming tradition: a patriarch of the family is named as Miscegenation Carter.
- Also from Discworld, the Library of Unseen University has statues representing the nine virtues — the seven mentioned above, plus Tubso and Bissonomy. No one knows what the last two are, since no one practices them anymore.
- In Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series, the Seven Heavenly Virtues are exemplified by the seven pieces of the Will, although an alternate system is used with the four Cardinal Virtues and the three Theological virtues. In order of appearance; Fortitude, Prudence, Faith, Justice, Temperance, Charity, and Hope. These characters are highly unbalanced and are supposed to become more reasonable as they merge into one entity.
Dame Primus, the entity they merge into, is nothing of the sort at first. Charity's joining her does make a bit of an impact though. And when Hope joins in, she becomes God.
- The focus of The Count of Monte Cristo is how the eponymous character develops patience enough to temper his desire for vengeance.
- Golden Logres has three virtues (Bravery, Fortune, and Loyalty) represented by banks of drop targets.
- The precursor to the seven heavenly virtues are the Cardinal virtues, first penned by Plato and Aristotle, and the Theological virtues, taken from the New Testament of The Bible. They are as follows:
Cardinal: Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Courage.
Theological: Faith, Hope, and Love (also called Charity).
- In the New World of Darkness, all characters have both Vices and Virtues corresponding to the Seven Heavenly Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins. Virtues (such as Charity or Faith) take much more work than Vices to fulfill, but fully restore Willpower when pulled off, as compared to Vices which damage the Karma Meter (but boost the Willpower stat). In alphabetical order, the seven virtues are: Charity, Faith, Fortitude, Hope, Justice, Prudence, Temperance.
- In the musical Camelot, Mordred has a song about "The Seven Deadly Virtues", which he lists as Courage, Purity, Humility, Honesty, Diligence, Charity, and Fidelity.
- In Crusader Kings, the Virtues appear as personality traits, alongside the Sins (though each virtue-sin pair is mutually exclusive on a single character). While in gameplay statistics, the virtues are almost wholly positive, characters with virtues tend to dislike characters with the corresponding sins, which actually means that a highly virtuous character can become an unlikeable Moral Guardian. On the other hand, they'll usually have a good relationship with the Church, which has advantages of its own.
- Sins has personifications of the seven heavenly virtues as some of the characters. In a subversion, they tend to suffer their virtues rather than embody them, and most are bitter about it (when not outright morally questionable).
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: the six lead characters each represent one of these virtues (except Humility), sometimes through the elements of harmony (Fluttershy's and Rarity's are actually the names of two of the virtues, which are Kindness and Charity[which is sometimes referred to as Generosity])
- Twilight Sparkle: Temperance
- Rarity: Charity
- Applejack: Diligence
- Pinkie Pie: Patience
- Fluttershy: Kindness
- Rainbow Dash: Chastity
- Humility is arguably symbolized by Princess Celestia, Twilight's mentor and the Big Good. She treats everyone as an equal, despite being royalty, and works tirelessly for the betterment of her subjects. In the backstory, she banished her sister Luna, who she loved deeply, to the moon- because it was the only way to save the world from Luna's eternal night. Notably, Celestia is the one who encourages Twilight to make friends, thus teaching her that there's no shame in accepting help from others.