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While the seven deadly sins as we know them did not originate with the Greeks or Romans, there were ancient precedents for them.Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics lists several positive, healthy human qualities, excellences, or virtues.Sloth has also been defined as a failure to do things that one should do.

The Catholic Church used the doctrine of the deadly sins in order to help people curb their inclination towards evil before dire consequences and misdeeds could occur; the leader-teachers especially focused on pride (which is thought to be the sin that severs the soul from Grace, and the one that is representative and the very essence of all evil) and greed, both of which are seen as inherently sinful and as underlying all other sins.Edmund Burke (1729–1797) wrote in Present Discontents (II.78) "No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens.Such misdeeds can include simony, where one attempts to purchase or sell sacraments, including Holy Orders and, therefore, positions of authority in the Church hierarchy.In the words of Henry Edward, avarice "plunges a man deep into the mire of this world, so that he makes it to be his god." Spiritually, acedia first referred to an affliction attending religious persons, especially monks, wherein they became indifferent to their duties and obligations to God.

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