Jacqueline Moore

GLUTTONY DOES NOT HAVE THE GRANDUER OF PRIDE, the often-brilliant strategic meanness of envy and avarice, the glory of wrath. It does manage to gain some small allure by its association with lust, its sexy sibling sin of flesh. Yet there is something irrevocably unseemly about gluttony, vulgar and lowbrow, self indulgent in a swinish way. Gluttony is not the stuff of tragedy or epic. Imagine Hamlet too fat to take revenge or Homer making his topic the gluttony of Achilles rather than his wrath. (2) With gluttony compare pride and anger, sins that mark the grand action of revenge, sins that can be emblematized by tigers, lions, eagles, and hawks, rather than by pigs and (dare I say it) humans. Gluttony requires some immersion in the dank and sour realm of disgust. Gluttony inevitably leads to regurgitation, excrement, hang over, and gas and to despair and feelings of disgust. But it has cheerier side too that I don’t mean to ignore: the delights and pleasures of good food, drink, and convivial joys. If gluttony often drags disgust in its wake, it also motivates a certain kind of amiability that makes forgood companionship, hospitality, and even a kind of easygoing benevolence. Most of the seven deadly sins are less properly sins then dispositions, tendencies, or traits of character. (pg92)

-------------Wm. Combe 1815

Among them all, who can deserv?
Avice more than Gluttony?
Of any groveling slave of sense,
Not one can claim so small pretense
To that indulgence which the wise
Allow to human frailities
As the inglorious beastly sinners,
Whose only object is -------- a dinner.
Who could have said it better? Back in 1815 he wrote this parable on gluttony. Most of the seven deadly sins are less properly sins than dispositions, tendencies, or traits of character, nor are they a complete list of sin generating dispositions. David Hume took delight in making the case for the virtue of pride, he was only willing to go half way on gluttony’s behalf, arguing, in effect, that obsessing on its viciousness meant you were moved by the unnamable vices of crabbed moralism and frenzied enthusiasm, not that you were manifesting virtue. (pg 92) David Hume (pg93) To imagine: that the gratifying of any sense or the indulging of any delicacy in meat, drink, or apparel is of itself a vice, can never enter into a head, that is not disordered by the frenzies, of enthusiasm. (3) (pg93) The precise moral status of gluttony has us somewhat conflicted. So wee the earlier ages the grounds of their ambivalence were different from ours. Gluttony, among us is the sin of pauches, pots or beer bellies. The lolls about men’s paunches or else squiggles loosely about women thighs, or clogs arteries in a gender-neutral fashion. Gluttony is known as the sin of ugliness and ill health. Mainly, ugliness despite centuries as a matter of practical morality ugliness remains the wages of gluttony is death. We as ordinary people with the exception of the philosophers and theologians have never distinguished between the good and the beautiful, the ethical and moral on one hand and the aesthetic and pleasurable on the other.
As a matter of practical morality, despite centuries of pious exhortation, to the contrary, ugliness remains, sin. Gluttony’s historical pedigree as an honored member of a select group of capital sins help relax the grip of these niggling scruples we may have acquired about blaming the fat for their obesity. It wages--- physical, moral, and social is told to be, death. 11 percent according to the author of a best selling how to raise your adolescent daughter book reports 11 percent of Americans would abort a fetus if they were told it had a tendency to obesity. Elementary-school children judge the fat kid in the class more harshly then they do the class bully. (4) In this life the beautiful are saved, the fat are damned and were not sure that this doesn’t also anticipate arrangements beyond the grave. But this historical development is a very recent one for when the poor were thin, fat was beautiful, and when poverty came to be characterized less by insufficient calories and more by insufficient calories, more by too many of the wrong kind of calories, fat became ugly.
By providing an antimodel of the ideal body type this ways how the poor determined fashion. The rich the imitate it negatively. Mr. Miller added this tidbit: although not all gluttony leads to obesity, nor is all obesity the consequence of the voluntary indulgence in the vice of gluttony, we antigluttonious moralists are never quite willing to pardon fat. The burden of proof, we think, is upon fat people to addure evidence that they are not gluttons, for fat makes out aprima facie case that they are guilty and thus owe the rest of us an apology or an explanation for having offended. (pg93) At the end of the fourth century the first list of the chief sins appeared, there were eight of them, gluttony headed the list. (5) It may have been thought that pride may have been more serious, gluttony still got first billing. Even though gluttony serviced all of the sins of the flesh, and was listed on the shorter list of the three temptations of Christ. John Cassian also listed gluttony first, who introduced the list of sins to the Latin West in the fifth century and an occasional writer would see fit to start with gluttony as late as the thirteenth century. It was no accident that they listed what was for turning them most: desires of the flesh, food, and then sex. (8) St. Gregory, the Great (d 604) carried the day, he gave pride back its prideful place as first as made for the moral ordering of less obsessively ascetic and more secularized world: gluttony was stuck back in the pack one step ahead of lust, which figured last. The preacher, whose topic was gluttony, had no problem finding biblicaland patristic support for claiming its historical priority even if was in some sense less serious a sin than pride and avarice. After all, was it not appetite for the forbidden fruit, desire for the apple that cost us all Paradise?
Considerably earlier in fourth century St. John Chrysostom was also willing to add the flood to gluttony’s discredit: “Gluttony turned Adam out of paradise gluttony it was that drew down the deluge of the time of Noah” (10) The official homilies of the Anglician church followed the same line. Adam and Eve were gluttonous, said the homilist and there excesses cost us paradise.” St. Thomas Aquinas felt compelled to address the issues of gluttony’s priority before dismissing it and asserting the prominence of pride and avarice. (12) This was obsessed upon by medieval and early modern moralists, was just how fertile gluttony was over other vices. The power of a vice to generate other vices was what theologians understood to make vice capital. Augustine asks: Is there anyone, O Lord, who is never entice beyond the strict limit of need?”(13) Eating is necessary for life and the blame for lack measure should be discounted for that reason. Aquinas concluded that gluttony’s productivity of vice was undeniable and sin was thus unarguably capital.
Gluttony paved the way to lust no medieval preacher, in his most free- associative moments, over thought to make lust the first sin or the prime sin. But gluttony sprang immediately in his mind. Gluttony was also extricable linked with sloth and this strikes us as perfectly apt. (pg95) William Langland allegorical glutton in Piers Plowman vomits, passes out drunk, and is carried home to bed by his wife where “after all this excess he had an accidie” (18) Gluttony thus becomes the foster and hence the embler of all sin that favors instant gratification, the filling of present emptiness with corporeal sensation at the expense of spirit and futurity. Sloth seems to capture the sense of defeat and shame that are the frequent after math of gluttony and lust. “Gluttony and pride, connived to find a form of podach” (pg96) Gluttony’s retinute figured in envy. This is the account of one early fifteenth century writer.
But when these countries sit on the benches idle
Smelling those dishes they bite upon the bridle
And there is their pain and anger fell as gall
When all passeth by and they have naught as well
Such fish to behold and more thereof to taste,
Pure envy causeth thy heart near the brast. (20) (pg96)
Gluttony had a more complex and ambivalent connection with avarice. The medieval and early modern period was also cast as the archety pal avaricious man. He was Dives of the parable of Lazarus in Luke 16:19. Dives lived sumptuously daily to the medieval mind that sumptuous fairing was a sign of a varice, or cupidity in their terms, as well as gluttony. In that earlier moral order, Dive’s wrongs were more serious than in ours. In the fae of a famished and leprous pauper, gluttony and avarice are played out. These sins meant something quite different in a world of constant and pressing caloric scarcity. Langland was the writer who most directly worried about the distributional aspects of gluttony. Every mouthful a glutton took beyond his measureable need was affront to the poor. The mantle of personified gluttony was shared between the frias and dives, actually by spicing their gluttony with hypocristy, they were doing him one better. They “gnaw God in the gorge when their guts are full” (PP,B10,57), in Langland’s arresting image.(pg97)
In 1215 when at least once the doctrine of transubstantiation was made dogma, didn’t Christianity ask for the trouble it got from gluttony? After all, Christianity featured the mouth and the alimentary canal in the central mystery of the faith: Eucharist. Considen this thirteenth—century hagiography describing on Mary of Oignies, a mystic who especially devoted to the Eucharis: the holy bread strengthened her heart: the holy wine ineloriated her, rejoicing her mind; the holy body fattened her…. Indeed she felt all delectation and all savor of sweetness in receiving it, not just within her soul but also even in her mouth. (36)
The passage from Mary of Oignies reminds us that gluttony is more than just chowing down and glutting to the point of sickness. There’s also the palate. Mary was flatted by eating, Jesus was only part of the pleasure; it was also that he tasted good, “ all delectation and all savor of sweetness.” There are two chief forms of gluttony that at times raise demands inconsistent with each other. Ingesting excessive quantities is one form; excessive refinements in quality is the other form. The quantity/ quality distinction was there in Gregory the Great’s taxonomy of gluttony back in the sixteenth century: not just eating too much, but also eating too daintily. Paul spoke tearfully against those who made their bellies their God he did not mean to exclude those who made the palate their God. The belly metaphor seems big enough to include the devotees of quality as well as those of quantity (pg63) By swallowing first, the bulimic helps make the point, thus completing the pleasure cycle of ingestion and only then outing the process into reverse (37) Does the glutton who lives to gorge on large amounts have values more out of whack than the glutton whose chief goal in life is the experience of subtle delectation and rarefied pleasurings of the palate?


I think the author did great research, but I would like to see more of an explanation of what Gluttony is. Great videos and analysis!!

GluttonyAuthor(s): William Ian MillerSource: Representations, No. 60 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 92-112Published by: University of California PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2928807 .Accessed: 17/04/2011 10:29

GluttonyAuthor(s): John GarrowSource: BMJ: British Medical Journal, Vol. 313, No. 7072 (Dec. 21 - 28, 1996), pp. 1595-1596Published by: BMJ Publishing GroupStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29733873 .Accessed: 17/04/2011 10:43