Cover Envy
series "Intersezioni"
"I sette vizi capitali"
pp. 188, Brossura, 978-88-15-14662-5
publication year 2011



The Sad Passion

Pride / Greed / Lust / Wrath / Gluttony / Envy / Sloth These seven words sum up the universe of sin. They featured prominently in ancient Greek culture, where they defined the manifestation of evil, and are used in Judaic-Christian culture to map out immorality. What do these terms call to mind today? What remains of their former tragic and dangerous nature? Do they still play a role in contemporary society, or have they become obsolete in a world where "anything goes", in which every boundary has been violated? Can they be re-interpreted and given new life, and perhaps incorporated into psychological and psychoanalytical therapy? One thing is certain: guilt and sin are again current topics. In this new series edited by Carlo Galli, seven scholars seek out new answers, attempt to examine the capital sins in a novel context that does away with the religious tradition in which they were originally developed, interpret them as enduring human passions, as expressions of humanity's ability to tell the difference between right and wrong.

Each of the seven books describe the social and historical evolution of one of the traditional sins, highlighting continuities between past and present and its shifting meanings over time.

This is the sin of Lucifer, who was envious of man; of Cain, who resented Abel; of Saul, who begrudged David; of Grimhilde, who was jealous of Snow White. Some say that every vice involves pleasure, but this is not true of envy, which poisons the soul and causes only misery and agony. One suffers because of another's good fortune and happiness, which are perceived as belittling one's own being and a sign of one's failure. Envy always stems from a comparison: why him/her and not me? And such a question must remain hidden if one does not want to display one's inferiority. From ancient times to contemporary society, from bygone fables to today's press releases, the author pursues this "sad" - but potentially violent - passion that corrupts relationships, undermines the ego, and consumes vital energy.

Elena Pulcini teaches Social Philosophy at the University of Florence.