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Seven Deadly Sins Symbols with Meanings

Artwork of number 7 on green wall.Pin

Seven deadly sins. We bet you remember all seven from Sunday school or a cool anime you might have seen. A number of authors, fascinated by the concept, have even written books and poetical pieces after them.

Game developers have manufactured some of their games with these seven sins as part of the narrative and Buzzfeed, and other similar platforms in fear of missing out, have even come up with “which deadly sin are you?” quizzes.

But do we actually know them by heart?

Part of not only the Christian theology but other religions, too, the seven deadly sins or their distant counterparts (in some cases) are:

  • Pride
  • Envy
  • Greed
  • Gluttony
  • Wrath
  • Sloth
  • Lust

These sins are perceived as gateway sins—meaning that they lead to other sins if one chooses to indulge in them. It is, however, interesting to see the various representations of these symbols and how aptly they manifest. 

While there are more modern representations of the seven deadly sins known to us today, little is known of older illustrations or symbols that were used to represent them.

In Seven Deadly Sins Symbols, we will go over each sin under five categories, putting in our thoughts on the representations we have selected. 

Colors

More often than not we associate colors with abstract thoughts, personalities, and adjectives. Each of the seven deadly sins has a color, too, that represents them.

Pride  (Purple)

Purple flower painting.Pin

Purple flower painting
Image by Hans Benn from Pixabay

Let’s start with the mightiest of them all, shall we?

The greatest even among the seven, pride is what can be termed as “cosmic arrogance.” It instills inside a person an unreasonable and unhealthy sense of self-importance.

When we are proud, we believe we are always right and are constantly searching for our self-glorification. Conceited in the abilities of oneself, we find fault in the abilities of others and judge them with contempt. Pride is represented by purple. (1)

Envy  (Green)

Green leafed plants.Pin

Green leafed plants
Image courtesy: pikrepo.com

Envy, or jealousy, is sadness or being bitter towards another’s belongings or characteristic traits.

You may know this already, but in case you don’t, envy was the original source of inspiration back when the first murder was committed. In coveting the favor of God more than was being showered on Abel, Cain ended up killing his brother. (2)

As for the punishment of envy in hell, those who believe it, is the “rotting of one’s bones” like in the proverbs.

Much like the green-eyed monster in the dictionary, Envy is represented by the color green. (3)

Greed  (Yellow)

Cactus Plant in Ceramic Mug, on yellow aesthetic background.Pin

Cactus Plant in Ceramic Mug, on yellow aesthetic background
Photo by Daria Liudnaya from Pexels

Religious books disregard the “abundance” of one’s possessions.

Modern-time examples of greed can be people signing up for food stamps and other government benefits that they don’t really need, which they later, in a lot of cases, sell those very stamps on eBay for money. 

Greed is represented by the color yellow. (1)

Gluttony (Orange)

Orange fireworks.Pin

Orange fireworks
Image courtesy: capturepot.com

Derived from the Latin counterpart gluttire which means to “gulp or swallow down,” gluttony is an over-indulgence or more than the necessary consumption of food and drink, wealth, and wealth items that symbolize status.

Excessive desire for food or wealth to the point of no longer needing it is prohibited in Christianity and a number of other religions. This glutton takes away from those actually in need. 

The color orange is associated with Gluttony because it is an excessive color much like gluttony itself. (4)

Wrath  (Red)

Red chili peppers.Pin

Red chili peppers
Photo by Shivam Patel from Pexels

Rage and wrath are shunned in all religious and non-religious practices. The punishment for this sin throughout ancient and medieval times is as similar as the characteristics of the sin itself; being dismembered alive.(5)

Anger takes away not only future peace, but it also enables stress later on after one’s meltdown and a lack of focus.

Most people are known to overthink their actions after having exhibited even a little bit of anger on someone or in a public setting.  

Red is with which wrath represented, the color of intensity and rage. (5)

Sloth (Light Blue)

Light blue wave art.Pin

Light blue wave art
Image via Jorge Guillen de Pixabay

Sloth is being lazy or a refusal to put in physical effort. Unlike its counterparts, where the sinner had to commit an act in order to commit the sin, sloth is the sin in which one omits their desire or responsibility.

Included with the seven deadly sins which give rise to other, secondary sins, Sloth is actually a secondary sin itself—at least technically. 

Light blue is used to represent sloth. (5)

Lust  (Blue)

Blue painting.Pin

Blue painting
Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels

The great Aquinas once said that lust contains “voluptuous emotions,” that is indulging in sexual pleasures will inevitably “unloosen the human spirit.”

Lechery and lust sought for the sake of pleasure are wrongs in the eyes of God and hence part of the seven deadly sins. 

While most people believe red represents Lust, that is not the case and the color is already taken by Wrath.

Most people associate the depth of blue oceans as an apt representation of lust and how people fall to the bottom seeking it. 

Corresponding Devils

The worship of Mammon.Pin

The worship of Mammon
Evelyn De Morgan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Now, some devils. 

Pride (Lucifer)

It should come as no surprise that Lucifer is attributed with pride. 

Lucifer was once an angel. His downfall was the day when he refused to bow to Adam and Eve, whom God created.

While all other angels had respectfully lowered their heads, bowing to the humans God had created without so much as a flicker of hesitance, Lucifer had outright refused.

He thought humans were beneath him and that he, God’s most prized angel, was far too superior to them to bow to them

His pride got the best of him and hence, the sin of pride is associated with Lucifer. (7) 

Envy  (Revu-iatan)

Don’t let the name confuse you. Revu-iatan is actually leviathan. Regarded as the “demon of envy” by Aquinas, Revu-iatan is the Devil’s agent, his harbinger of chaos and destruction upon humankind.

The monster demon acts out of the envy of the Devil’s heart, out of how God favored his human creation above him. 

Hence, Envy is associated with Revu-iatan—also the other way around. (8) 

Greed (Mammon)

Even though Mammon isn’t exactly a demon but a concept, it still is regarded as an evil concept of greed. It is actually the biblical term for riches and wealth, more often than not used to describe how the influence of material wealth is debased.

This term was used in a famous sermon by Jesus Christ and later in The Gospel. Over time, people learned to interpret it as a physical entity that personified riches and how foolhardy it is to accumulate them in a transitory world. 

The use of this term is twofold, however, in the New Testament. (8) It has been used in a place where Jesus tells his listeners that they can’t serve both God and Mammon at once and must choose better, and in another place where the meaning and origin are identical. 

Gluttony (Beelzebub)

Beelzebub (a rather weird name) is another one of Satan’s many names. Beelzebub is known as one of the seven princes of Hell.

Capable of flying, the sin of gluttony has been rightfully associated with this demon because his flying has been linked to excessiveness. (9) 

Wrath (Satan)

Rightfully associated with Satan, the fire with which God created Satan is often linked to the demon’s anger. 

Sloth (Belphegor) 

Belphegor is another one of the seven princes of Hell known for helping people “discover” things.

Belphegor seduces people to opt for ways, or rather shortcuts, that will enable them to become rich.

These ways often involved doing nothing, hence the association with the sin of Sloth. 

Lust (Asmodeous) 

Asmodeus, according to Binsfeld’s classification of demons, represents lust. (10)

Animals

A number of animals have been associated with the seven deadly sins. 

Pride (Peacock, Lion, Griffin)

Peacock.Pin

Peacock
Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

The sin of pride has been associated with the peacock more often than other animals. Known for its biblical background of having been exiled from Heaven, the peacock’s pride broke and hence makes for a perfect association with the sin.

Lions are also associated with the sin of pride as they are known to be quite territorial in the wild. (11) The mythological, half-eagle-half lion griffin is also associated with the sin of pride. 

Wrath  (Dragon, Wolf)

Dragon statue.Pin

Dragon statue
Image by sherisetj from Pixabay

The wrath of dragons is quite legendary both in fiction and ancient texts. We are no strangers to how powerful and intimidating the creatures have been portrayed in movies and animated series.

Apart from dragons, wolves and their menace bring them on this list, too. The mercilessness with which they tear their prey apart makes for their perfect association with the sin of wrath. 

Envy (Snake)

Grass snake.Pin

Grass snake
Photo of WikiImages by Pixabay

Snakes are the perfect symbol of jealousy, or envy, as their poison and the slow death associated with it is in turn associated with how jealousy makes a person feel, killing them from the inside; slowly. 

Sloth  (Bear, Donkey)

Kodiak Brown Bear.Pin

Kodiak Brown Bear
Image courtesy: needpix.com

When it comes to the sin of Sloth, bears and donkeys are associated with the sin for the former is known to start off its day lazily, dilly-dallying around, and being inefficient when hunting prey.

Bears are dangerous; we know them to be only when enraged. Donkeys are also known for their laziness, hence, attributed to the sin of Sloth. 

Greedy (Fox)

Wild Fox.Pin

Wild Fox
Image by monicore from Pixabay

No animal is as greedy as the fox. Notated in Aesop’s fables and countless other children’s stories, the fox is as greedy as one can get, lying and manipulating others for personal gain—much like people who are greedy. 

Glutton (Pig)

Pig in yard.Pin

Image Courtesy: pxhere.com

For Glutton, the pig or swine are perfect examples. Even though the animals are not to blame for their heavy-weightedness and excess weight, it is the concept of raising them for slaughter, and excessively feeding them that makes for a perfect association of the animal with the sin of glutton.

Lust (Goat, Scorpion)

Goat standing on cut tree.Pin

Goat
Kuebi = Armin Kübelbeck, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, Goats are the symbol of lust as the animals are known to be quite sexually playful. Apart from goats, scorpions are also considered a symbol of lust.

Little is known as to why, though, for scorpions are more aggressive and perceived for betrayal and backstabbing than lust.  

Kanji Symbols

Japanese woman practicing kanji.Pin

Japanese woman practicing kanji
Toyohara Chikanobu, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Our second-last category for this blog is here. Let’s go over the Japanese Kanji symbols for the seven deadly sins. (12)

Pride (Kouman)

Pride is a pessimistic perspective, a feeling more predominant and more significant than others, placing your own longings over those of some other individual. It has generally been recorded as the most genuine sin.

Kouman is the symbol for pride. 

Greed (Donyoku)

Plotting and planning to gain more of this earth’s treasures can inevitably lead to a spiral of indulging unethical means of gaining said treasures. Excessively pursuing wealth is, as already established, one of the seven deadly sins. 

Donyoku is the symbol for Greed.

Envy (Shitto)

Needing what others have can prompt aggression towards others just as to perform exploitative moves to take it from them.

Jealousy can target more than assets or riches, including debilitating someone from making companions.

On the off chance that you can’t have what they have, you don’t need them to have it, or so are the thoughts of an envious person. 

Shitto is the symbol of envy. 

Wrath (Gekido)

Rage and anger can lead to violence. 

Gekido is the symbol for Wrath. 

Lust (Nikuyoku)

Lust and Desire is permitting sexual fascination to grow out of power and lead you to have intercourse outside of marriage or other serious relationships. It likewise can be an unbridled craving, leaving you to continually need more. 

Nikuyoku is the symbol of lust. 

Gluttony (Boushoku)

Eating and drinking too much, and over-consumption is gluttony, symbolized by the Boushoku symbol.

Sloth (Taida)

Laziness and inaction, ignoring of responsibilities, the sin of Sloth is symbolized by the Taida symbol. 

Disney Villains

Evil Queen from Snow White.Pin

Evil Queen from Snow White
David, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

And last but not least, let’s move on to the most modern concept of symbolism with the seven deadly sins; Disney villains!

Gluttony (Ursula)

Ursula was a glutton for wanting more power and dominion in the little mermaid, and because of her, well, “body language,” is associated with Gluttony.

Sloth (Captain Hook)

Captain Hook was the laziest villain, having his crew doing his work for him, hence his association with the sin of Sloth. 

Envy (the Evil Queen)

The Evil Queen from Snow White is the perfect example of jealousy and envy. 

Pride (Maleficent)

Maleficent was the proudest villain, taking for her dismissal from the royals as a slap to her magnificence, exacting revenge upon the very king who dismissed her. 

Wrath (Queen of Hearts)

No one does wrath the way our Queen of Hearts does with her off with their heads

Greed (Jaffar) 

Jaffar took control of the royal family in his narrative to gain power and wealth, blinded by greed

Lust (Cruella)

And finally, Cruella. While she makes for a poor symbol for the sin of lust, her personality is quite accurate for the sin as she is often seen in every screen adaptation as bold and beautiful, her acting often a hidden indicator of the character’s secret desire of not only intimacy, but attention and adoration. 

References

  1. https://rosaliestanton.com/blog/2018/8/17/the-colors-of-sin
  2. https://www.covalentlogic.com/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/
  3. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=green-eyed%20monster
  4. https://prezi.com/ovejgfgp04lp/7-deadly-sins-and-their-colors/
  5. https://www.quia.com/jg/981160list.html
  6. https://renzlca.wordpress.com/
  7. https://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004299139/B9789004299139_011.xml
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan
  9. https://www.britannica.com/topic/mammon
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beelzebub
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asmodeus
  12. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-write-the-seven-deadly-sins-in-japanese-kanji-4079434
  13. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/446911962994019172/

Header image courtesy: Miguel A’s photo . Padrián from Pexels

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The editors of Give Me History work with specific content that they’ve had considerable expertise within academic projects or study. The contents of this article have additionally been reviewed by external experts before publishing.

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The Editors of Give Me History, "Seven Deadly Sins Symbols with Meanings," Give Me History, June 11, 2021, https://givemehistory.com/seven-deadly-sins-symbols.

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