Sienna squinted at the text, reading it aloud.“Saligia?”
Langdon nodded, feeling a chill to hear the word spoken aloud. “It’s a Latin mnemonic invented by the Vatican in the Middle Ages to remind Christians of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Saligia is an acronym for: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, and acedia.” Sienna frowned. “Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.”
Not surprisingly, Robert Langdon in Dan Brown’s Inferno immediately recognizes the acronym Saligia.
In fact, it is a very ancient symbol that dates back to the Middle Ages.
The religious crisis of the Middle Ages forced the Catholic Church to coin this code to make clear to the faithful the danger of the seven deadly sins.
Even the Florentine poet Giovanni Boccaccio mentions the word Saligia in his letters.
The seven deadly sins stared deeply into the medieval consciousness, thanks to the Popes and the Christian orders that aimed to encode types of sins to make them easier to understand and more familiar for devoted people.
Medieval Florence was not immune to temptations, and many chroniclers described the city as violent and dedicated to vices: even Dante condemned in his Inferno some of the worst sins committed in his beloved city.
Catholic doctrine says:
The repetition of sins—even venial ones—engenders vices, among which are the capital sins.
The seven deadly sins are considered to be more serious than other sins, which are defined as venial.
The most serious of the seven deadly sins is pride, because it reached the level of God. In fact, in Christian tradition, pride is the sin of Lucifer, Adam, and Eve.
Dante defined pride as loving oneself too much and that you begin to hate and have contempt for other people.
At the beginning of The Divine Comedy, Dante, author and main character of the poem, crosses the selva oscura (a dark forest) and comes upon three wild beasts, personifications of the seven deadly sins.
Dante describes human life as an intricate forest, full of pitfalls and temptations—the sins. One must go through the sins to overcome Hell and enjoy the presence of God.
If a person surrenders to the sin, that person loses his freedom and his reason until the light of God saves him.
The three beasts that terrified Dante are a leopard (Lust), a lion (Pride), and a wolf (Avarice), according to the symbolism of medieval bestiaries.
These were books that presented brief descriptions of animals, both real and imaginary, together with explanations and moralizing references inspired by the Bible.
But the three beasts could also symbolize the worst vices attributed by Dante to the city of Florence: Pride, Envy, and Greed.
It is also interesting to discover that during the Middle Ages sadness was also considered a deadly sin, because it prevents appreciation of the beauty of the divine creation.
That’s all for now . . .
By following Dante and Robert Langdon in their travels, we will better understand what Saligia wants to tell us.
Legends and curiosities of medieval times.
Pictures by Wikimedia