Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seven Deadly Sins: Envy

“Envy is more implacable than hatred.”
- de La Rochefoucauld

Seeing as I'm on this Dante kick, I thought I'd post about Envy (also know as indivia in Italian)from that perspective, with perhaps a few other random things thrown in. We'll see where this goes.

According to Dante Alighieri's tour in The Divine Comedy's Inferno installment, there are nine concentric circles of Hell. Each circle representing a gradual increase in wickedness. Each circle's sinners are punished in a manner fitting to their crime.

Dante defined Envy as "love of one's own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs."

The envious end up in the second tier. Their punishment
is severe: they have their eyes sewn shut with wire, because they have gained pleasure from seeing those they envy brought down.

photo by Pagan Sphinx

Marcel Jean Specter of the Gardenia

(The choice of this sculpture is purely my own connection, as I have not been able to find any information about it and its title certainly does not give any indication of its meaning.)

Gustave Doré
Envious Penitents

And no discussion of Dante's Divine Comedy is complete without a mention of William Blake, whose illustrations for the work he is well known for

Dante and Statius Sleeping,Virgil-Watching

Lastly, I came upon this photograph of a sculpture of Blake by James. S. Deville, after uploading the photograph above, that reminded me of the punishment for Envy, in Dante's Inferno.

Join Kay for The Seven Deadly Sins Meme.

Thanks, Kay, this has been very interesting and fun for me; now smitten with both Blake and Dante. Yeah, I know. Once a nerd, always a nerd! ;-)


  1. A masterful treatment of envy, Sphinx! Thanks for visiting my "Envy" post! :)

  2. Puts a whole new spin on the phrase "Eyes Wide Shut" doesn't it?

  3. gina, this is all fascinating, if not a bit perverse in my way of thinking!! blake seems to be a real strange fellow from what i have read and i have stopped using his quotes because i don't like what i have read about his that as it may, this is an entertaining and baffling post...the head is particularly mind-boggling, not knowing from what mind it came...

    ah well, have a lovely, well the rest of it, sunday~hoping it's a SUN day! lol ;)

  4. Interesting post, but a little out of my league im afraid.
    Really like that picture by William Blake tho.

  5. Mary: thanks! :-)

    Linda: I like strange artists and writers, I guess. :-) I don't know enough about Blake other than a little poetry and a lot of images of his sketches and paintings. I have had a biography of him recommended and it's been on my reading list for months. I may just get around to it soon! What is it that you find weird about Blake, exactly? I mean...there are certainly some obvious things...but otherwise! :-)

    Mojo: yeah! I kept thinking about that phrase and the movie with Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, as I was putting together the post.

    imac: I'm aware that this post is not exactly everyone's cup of tea. But that's the P.S. blog - you never know what's going to tickle my fancy! Thanks for leaving a comment anyway, dear man!

  6. Loves me my Dante!

    My favorite part is Purgatory: the same deadly sins as Inferno, but in reverse order (worst to least), as the penitents climb up the mountain to Paradise (which they're assured of getting to, it just takes "time").

    To be shriven of the stain of envy in Purgatory, the penitent also have their eyes sewn shut. However, they there decry their envy, and as blind beggars they implore the generosity (i.e., opposing virtue) of others.

    [My favorite segment of Purgatory, is the least worst sin's purgation, that of Lust. Dante seems (to my ears) to have been GENERATIONS ahead of his time, in recognizing that homosexual and heterosexual lust are essentially the same, and must be similarly purged: circling through fire, heterosexuals clockwise, homosexuals counter-clockwise. Begs the question that married love, homosexual and heterosexual, is similarly virtuous? ;-)]

  7. Yes, Purgatory. Many interesting facets to that level.

    Interesting observation you make about Dante's take on homosexuality.

    I'm really quite smitten with The Divine Comedy right now. To what extent I'll take my interest, I'm not yet sure. I can't imagine reading the whole damn thing, that's for sure!

  8. hmmmm blake? I am trying to remember and when I do, I will tell you...I am thinking it was some stupid thing he said but who knows....I was looking at quotes and read it, I know that, not that that helps!

    mucho lovo...

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Hey, Ariel - thanks for the links!

  11. Thanks to the link that the commenter Ariel left about the Jean "sculpture", the zippers open to reveal little pictures instead of eye balls: a star and a face.

    I was way off about the "eyes sewn shut" thing; knowing it was a stretch but I wanted to use that image because I found it fascinating. When I photographed it, it was inside a glass case and I had no idea that the zippers even opened. Very cool

  12. Rough translation of the spanish site:

    The film that put around the neck of the figure intended to refer to the old celluloid collars and it was a fragment of a film, painter and artist Dora Maar by filmmaker Louis Chavance. At first, Jean thought fragments using an old movie that I had found on the trail, called Le secret du gardenia (The Secret of the gardenia), which should have been the title of the object.
    A misprint in the catalog of the exhibition, where he "specter" instead of "secret," added an element of chance to object, quality highly appreciated by the Surrealists.
    André Breton, opposed it as being "too realistic". Despite his disapproval, The specter of the gardenia achieved immediate success.

  13. Thanks for this. I love those crazy surrealists!

  14. Not because I'm french, but De La Rochefoucauld's quotation is excellent ! I don't know why but it seems that hatred has an end, despite envy can increase with no end.
    And notice between the portrait of Dante and the sculpture of Blake the similarity of their mouth. Is that a stigma of envy that saps the inner soul ?
    A very interesting post Sphinx.

  15. Catherine: I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    I did see the similarity between the portrait of Dante and the bust of Blake. Without a doubt, both troubled souls.

    I'm so glad you're visiting here, Catherine. I really enjoy your comments!


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