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, charityor 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 fulfilment 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, The Ingenue, Purity Sue, Incorruptible Pure Pureness, Virgin Power, The Paragon, Only the Pure of Heart, Virgin in a White Dress. 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 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 (unless of course you achieve this state by considering yourself so far above other people that their opinions no longer matter to you). Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less (although the former is of course an important first step in achieving the latter). 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; evaluating one's own accomplishments no differently than if they were someone else's accomplishments. 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 common consensus is that of all the virtues, humility is the most important as it tends to be the foundation that supports the others. Humility allows one to admit they are not perfect and the willingness to learn from mistakes to be a better person. Almost every beloved Ideal Hero and Paragon from pretty much medium has humility as a defining trait. Fitting as its opposite is considered the worst of the seven deadly sins and the Fatal Flaw of almost every famous villain. 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, the Iron Woobie, and anyone who subscribed to Thou Shalt Not Kill. 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. Usually Patience is common among villains in media since Heroes portrayed in media are usually Hot-Blooded or have short tempers, while villains are calm, cool and collected chessmasters. 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 speciality of a Badass Pacifist and usually the Guile Hero. The angel who embodies the virtue of Temperance is Cassiel. Opposite of Gluttony.
If one is to consider the optional "eighth Deadly Sin" of Despair added by Orthodox Christianity to be canon, then logically, its corresponding Virtue will be Hope which is like Diligence in that it involves not giving up or stopping, but whereas Diligence would embody those who continue their arduous tasks despite their growing despair and doubt, Hope would embody not even having said doubt or despair in the first place. And where Diligence encompasses the avoidance of laziness and idleness, Hope would embody the resistance of more grave woes like depression, cowardice, and in some cases, suicide. An example of diligence without hope would be a combatant putting all of their hardest effort into their uphill battle against their foe despite believing in their hearts that they will ultimately lose in the end - a hardworking defeatist. On the other hand, an example of hope without diligence would be being so blindly sure of one's apparently "certain" victory that they don't even put their full effort into trying - a lazy optimist. Similarly to how its corresponding vice often gets lumped in with Sloth for being too similar, the same tends to happen with Hope and Diligence. It doesn't help that Hope as a Holy Virtue is far less popular than its sinful counterpart Despair, thanks in no part to the popularity of the Deadly Sins overshadowing that of the Heavenly Virtues.
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. Faith, particularly, serves as the opposite number to Despair (the eighth deadly sin according to Orthodox Christianity).
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. See also The Cardinal Virtues.
- In Karakuridouji Ultimo, there are fifty Douji representing positive traits. Ultimo and the Six Perfects of Buddhism are the strongest of them, fighting against the Douji based on negative traits (including the Seven Deadly Sins).
- The Shōnen manga series Reborn! (2004) has the seven protagonists (battling for the right to inherit a powerful mafia family) embody the Seven Heavenly Virtues (in opposition to the antagonists, who embody the Seven Deadly Sins).
- In So I'm a Spider, So What? Skills corresponding to these virtues exist and can be earned or purchased with skill points. They are Game Breakers but also warp the user's soul over time to match the virtue, much like the sin skills. While the Sin line of skills cause the bearer to become a threat to those around them, the Virtue line is more likely to make someone a threat to themselves: The deuteragonist, Shun, earned the skill Kindness and is seemingly compelled to show mercy to those who have not earned it, would not learn from it and would continue to be a threat to him and others unless stopped. The teacher has Charity and is so obsessed with helping her students that she neglects her own emotional needs, even undergoing a breakdown when she fails to do a perfect job of taking care of them. Meanwhile, Merazofis's Patience is a sign of his insanity as he works tirelessly on self improvement, which is incredibly painful and puts him under high physical, emotional and mental stress as he gives up sleeping and much of his humanity in order to keep pushing himself harder.
- In Seven Mortal Sins, the Virtues are mentioned to be the titular Sins' heavenly counterparts. Lucifer was their leader prior to being cast down into Hell, with Michael taking over the group. She is the only Virtue that appears in the series itself, with bonus art and a second figure collection revealing the designs for the other six Virtues.
- A 2009 Justice Society of America storyline featuring the Marvel Family debuted the Seven Sacred Virtues of Man, the Good Counterpart to the classic Shazam rogues the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man. They were found trapped at the Rock of Finality, the Evil Counterpart to the Rock of Eternity. However, they first appeared just as the New 52 was starting up, so they didn't get too much exploration.
- In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld fic Hear Them Chatter On the Tide, the Discworld's Eight Graces are tasked with restoring their number back to eight, after a pissed-off God turned one into a shoal of oysters. They are aided by, err, a Blue Öyster Cult. The Eight Deadly Sins turn up to thwart their rival gang, however. The chosen battlefield is the city Zoo (Aquatic Bivalves and Deep Sea Life Galleries).
- In Hope of the Shield Hero, the Heroes can end up unlocking a Blessed Series weapon, which are the counterparts of canon's Cursed Series, based on the Seven Deadly Sins. Unlocking a Blessed Series requires overcoming a trial that would have unlocked a Cursed Series or regaining the purpose of fighting for the world. While powerful, they have a weakness in that the Hero must hold onto the virtue that unlocks the weapon, and they have a time limit of use. Naofumi unlocks the Shield of Hope early in the story, which grants him several very useful skills.
- The Divine Comedy:
- In Purgatorio, the seven virtues appear as beautiful maidens dancing around Beatrice's chariot in her triumphal procession at the end of Purgatory.
- In Paradiso, five of the seven spheres of Heaven each act as home to saved souls who embody the ideal in the heavenly virtues, Spheres Four through Seven representing The Cardinal Virtues (Prudence, Fortitude, Justice and Temperance in that order) and the Eighth Sphere representing the three theological virtues (Faith, Love and Hope).
- 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 and Anger (among others). Subverted, because each child went on to embody the opposite of their name. For example, Hope became a manic-depressive, while Bestiality was always very kind to animals. This may have 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 eight virtues — Patience, Chastity, Silence, Charity, Hope, Fortitude, Tubso, and Bissonomy. No one knows what the last two are, since no one practices them anymore, and their statues are just as mystifying as their names.
- In Garth Nixs 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.
- From Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray: "Beer, the Bible, and the seven deadly virtues have made our England what she is."
- The Cold Moons: At the end of the funeral, the eldest son of a recently deceased badger is blessed with the seven gifts of Asgard: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, righteousness, and the love of the Lord Logos.
- Whenever he discusses these or the Seven Deadly Sins in his various works, C. S. Lewis does what he is wont to do, which is to say give a very insightful analysis. First he notes that many acts that would appear to be Greed on the surface are actually Pride, as there is a certain point in the Fiction 500 past which the only meaningful difference further increasing your wealth will make is being able to say that you have more money than the next guy. Second, he points out that the biggest virtue and it's counterpart biggest sin, Humility and Pride, both have a lesser and greater subtype. For humility, there is the less-virtuous variety wherein one has a low self-opinion, but then there is the more virtuous type wherein one has almost no self opinion at all, if any, such that they look upon their own accomplishments no differently than if they'd been someone else's accomplishments. The less sinful variety of Pride is where you want everyone to know how awesome you are and get upset when they think otherwise, whereas the more sinful one is where you consider yourself so far above other people that you think their opinions of you to be as worthless and inconsequential as they themselves are. Third, he points out the dangers of trying to quash one of the other sins by appealing to pride, in other words by convincing yourself that such behavior is "beneath" you.
- A Fantasy Counterpart Religion version of this appears in The Priory of the Orange Tree with the Virtues of Knighthood. The virtues are Courage, Justice, Temperance, Generosity, Courtesy, and Fellowship. Followers take one as a patron and wear their badge, and characters who follow Virtudom often refer to their patron during times of stress.
- 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 fulfil, 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.
- The penultimate issue of Dragon magazine included an article called "Seven Saintly Domains", which made each of the virtues into a Dungeons & Dragons clerical domain with suitable spells. A follow-up to the article "Seven Deadly Domains", which did the same thing with the sins.
- In early Pathfinder lore, it was established that the Seven Deadly Sins as represented by the Runelords were originally the Seven Virtues of Rule. The Seven Virtues were defined as the positive aspects of those vices. Later on, it was decided that this didn't make a whole lot of sense, so in current lore the Seven Virtues were this. Before the Runelords developed sin magic, the Seven Virtues of Rule were ideals established by Emperor Xin to encourage that the Runelords avoid becoming addicted to the temptations of power. This didn't work out, for obvious reasons.
- 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.
- BIONICLE has the Three Virtues, which are similar, but the Matoran Principles from the Mata Nui Online Game II are closer to these. They don't match up one for one, but they keep the same general theme - and the Rahkshi powers from 2003's story are revealed to be their direct opposites. The Principles that match up are Purity (an analog to Chastity), Prosperity (which is close to Temperance; its opposite is Hunger, which resembles Gluttony) and Peace (Patience, as it opposes Anger); the remaining three call to mind other Virtue/Vice Codifications from other belief systems, with Courage being from the Bushido Code and Faith and Creativity being virtues from Kwanzaa tradition.
- 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.
- Chaste: Understandably, a malus to fertility (chance of producing additional children). Also a small boost to Learning (which reflects technological prowess). Sees a monthly increase in Piety (the "currency" for religious activities), and an opinion bonus with all members of the Christian church. Muslim characters, who are not expected to be chaste, cannot attain this trait.
- Temperate: A moderate boost to Stewardship (which reflects skill at administration), and an opinion bonus with all chaplains and rulers of religious holdings, regardless of their faith.
- Charitable: A large boost to Diplomacy (which reflects skill at... diplomacy), and (again) an opinion bonus with all chaplains and rulers of religious holdings, regardless of their faith. However, this character shouldn't ever go dueling, because they take a big hit to their personal combat skill.
- Diligent: A small boost to every skill across the board. Also a small boost to the opinion of all vassals.
- Patient: A small boost to every skill across the board except for Martial, though there are indirect boosts to personal combat skill and unit defense to offset this.
- Kind: A moderate boost to Diplomacy but a moderate hit to Intrigue (which reflects skill at subterfuge), but a small boost to the opinion of all vassals. Also takes a hit to personal combat skill, but whoever heard of a kind duelist?
- Humble: The most "neutral" virtue in gameplay terms. A small monthly Piety bonus, with no other net positives or negatives.
- Each of the Seven Sages in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time represent one virtue.
- Patience: Rauru waits seven years for Link to grow up and mature into a proper hero, looking after him all the while.
- Charity: Saria gives Link an ocarina as a token of friendship, and is willing to sacrifice her carefree life for the sake of Hyrule.
- Temperance: Despite his wild demeanor, Darunia is dedicated to the protection of his people and is open to making new allies. He becomes a Sworn Brother to Link after the latter defeats King Dodongo.
- Chastity: Despite wanting to marry Link, Ruto chooses to suspend her vow so that she may serve as a Sage.
- Diligence: Impa devoted her life to protecting Princess Zelda and to defending Kakariko Village.
- Kindness: Nabooru is appalled by the actions of her king Ganondorf, and put a young Link's safety above hers when attacked by Twinrova.
- Humility: Princess Zelda gave up her royal status and life, taking on the identity of Sheik and working alongside Link to defeat Ganondorf, and takes full responsibility for how her childhood plan led to Ganondorf coming to power.
- The Heaven\Hell building game Afterlife (1996) goes through most of the seven in the lead for the ones that make up Heaven's reward structures. The differences are Peacefulness as a contrast to Wrath, and Contentment for Envy.
- In Final Fantasy XI, you can fight a series of Notorious Monsters who are all called "Jailer of X", all named after the different Virtues. After you defeat the last of the Jailers, the Jailer of Love, Absolute Virtue will immediately spawn to take on the party.
- 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.
- The My Little Pony: Equestria Girls spin-off series later introduced Sunset Shimmer (Celestia's previous student and Twilight's predecessor) who was the opposite of humble, but became much more self-conscious and caring over the course of several movies. At first Sunset was an ambitious but arrogant Alpha Bitch who thought she deserved alicornhood more than Twilight, and plotted to get back at her teacher and her successor. Being defeated by the heroes utterly shattered her self-confidence, lead to her seeking atonement under their guidance and then having to really work towards making everyone accept her again. In the end, she does earn their forgiveness, begins to regain her old confidence and at the same time becomes much more understanding and humble, even managing to befriend Twilight when they start bonding over their similarities. Unlike the other six Sunset doesn't have an "official" Element of Harmony in-universe, but Word of God always refers to her corresponding character aspect as Empathy/Forgiveness.
- Later seasons added a seventh member of the team, Starlight Glimmer, whose path was very similar to Sunset's. Starlight started as an antagonist, fell into full-on villain, then repented and made a full HeelFace Turn. One could argue her entire character arc was about learning Humility, finally learning to treat others with respect and even became Twilight's protege.
- Justice League
- Charity: Superman
- Chastity: Wonder Woman
- Diligence: Hawkgirl
- Humility: Batman
- Kindness: Flash
- Patience: J'onn
- Temperance: Green Lantern