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Dorothy L. Sayers

from her Commentary included in her translation of

The Comedy of Dante Alighieri The Florentine


Penguin Books Ltd, London1955.


Commentary on the Images  in Canto X


Pride.  Taken in its wider aspect, Pride (Superbia) is the head and root of all sin, both original and actual.  It is the endeavour to be "as God." making self, instead of God, the centre about which the will and desire revolve.  In its narrower and more specific aspect, pride exhibits itself as Vainglory (Vana gloria) - an egotism so overweening that it cannot bear to occupy any place but the first, and hates and despises all fellow-creatures out of sheer lust of domination.  Some theologians separate these two aspects, placing Pride in a class by itself, as the generic sin of which Vainglory and the rest are the species: but Dante follows the more usual arrangement which puts Pride and Vainglory together as the first of the Seven Capital Sins.


[webmaster's note:  Dante follows the later scheme of describing the root passions identified by St. Gregory the Great, but the traditional lectionary, probably 5th century, predates St. Gregory and may be related better to the earlier scheme of Cassian where Pride and Vainglory are two separate aspects - perhaps Pride being addressed in Trinity 3 and Vainglory being addressed in Trinity 4.]