Evagrius Ponticus and the "Eight Generic Logismoi"
In the distant background of the medieval array of seven deadly sins lies the schema of “eight generic thoughts” devised in the Egyptian desert by Evagrius Ponticus (c. 345-99). Evagrius had created his system as an inventory for ascetic diagnosis and practice, describing in his list of gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, accidie or “sloth,” vainglory, and pride the challenges facing monks in the Egyptian desert. John Cassian (c. 364-c. 435) brought Evagrius’s schema from Egypt to the nascent Latin monasticism of Gaul, hoping to guide new communities along traditional – meaning Egyptian – lines. Gregory the Great (c. 540-604) would broaden the audience for Cassian’s array by revising it into the more generic system of seven capital vices that would prove so useful to medieval moralists.
Book Description: It has now been fifty years since the publication of Morton Bloomfield's pioneering The Seven Deadly Sins. The present collection of essays offers the best new scholarship on the vices and aims thus both to re-examine the work begun by Bloomfield and to suggest possibilities for future research in this field in the coming decades.
Stewart, Columba. “Evagrius Ponticus and the ‘Eight Generic Logismoi.’” In In the Garden of Evil: The Vices and Culture in the Middle Ages, edited by Richard Newhauser, 3-34. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2005.