Seven Heavenly Virtues

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The Seven Political Virtues... who kept a straight face?

"Strength and honor!"
"Go with honor, friend."
"Remember, patience...discipline."

"Keep your feet on the ground!"
Horde and Alliance NPCs, World of Warcraft.

The Seven Heavenly Virtues are seven basic concepts that will lead your soul to honor. Repeated in various forms throughout the world (and beyond), the universally assorted ways to be virtuous have many combinations and permutations, as shown in the examples below. However, the general gist of them can be found in this list - seven essential personality traits which guide people in morality. Undeniably, these are the basic "rules of behavior" for any true hero, veiled or otherwise.

They differ somewhat from the three theological virtues (love, hope, faith) and the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude) combined.

In alphabetical order, here are the big seven (each of which conveniently corresponds to one of the Seven Deadly Sins), along with some trope examples demonstrating each. Note that this is just one list; there are plenty of others, as shown below.

Charity - Being Generous Towards Others. A willingness, or even desire, to help others and better the world, no matter the cost to your personal self. The path of a graceful and noble spirit. The Good Samaritan is this virtue personified. This virtue is the mainstay of The Atoner, and Hurting Hero. An extremely strong sense of Charity, to the point that it overcomes common sense, becomes Honor Before Reason. Using this virtue as an excuse for suicidal tendencies or poor planning results in Martyr Without a Cause, although in a Martyrdom Culture this virtue will more easily extend to a Death Seeker. Opposite of Avarice.

Chastity - Being Unhindered by Worldly Desires. The ability to overcome temptation and show self-discipline. Note that the fulfillment of the virtue is not through lack of being tempted, but rather of making the conscious decision to better yourself rather than do what you know is morally wrong. This virtue is especially popular with Knight in Shining Armor types and any who choose to become The Fettered. Opposite of Lust.

Diligence - Being Steadfast in Work. Despite the problems that surface, no matter what stands in their way, one with this virtue will accomplish their goals and stay true to their core beliefs. If there is work to be done, they will do their best to get it finished, and properly. This is a common trait of The Cape and those that have Jumped At the Call. This is also the virtue most likely to be held by the Anti-Hero. Opposite of Sloth.

Humility - Being Modest in Self. What is fame, but a trapping for the weak? While those with this virtue may not seem like much at first, when all bets are down they will triumph over the loud and crass - if not in sheer power, then at least in poise. This virtue in its purest form is not self-hatred (a common mistake made by those with good intentions but self-esteem problems), but rather a sense of inner knowledge that one does not need to prove their greatness/badassitude to the outside world to actually be Badass. The Supporting Leader, The Cowl, and The Drifter often personify this trope. When used to an extreme, may result in Obfuscating Stupidity. Opposite of Pride.

Kindness - Being Good Towards All Life. Everything will be okay somehow! is the motto of those that follow this virtue. Whether times are good or tough, those holding this virtue true to heart will endure in wishing the best for everyone. Embodied by the Broken Hero and The Pollyanna as well as the Friend to All Living Things. Leveling up this virtue to max grants the ability Care Bear Stare. While this virtue may seem light-hearted, beware: if the strength of this virtue in a cute person is not enough, yet they depend on it in the face of adversity, it will Break the Cutie. Opposite of Envy.

Patience - Being Peaceful in Goal. A willingness to forgive and show mercy. In the face of adversity they may hesitate, but in the end they will endorse stability, reject revenge, and accept the faults of others without prejudice. This virtue is almost always held by The Medic, Actual Pacifists, and the Iron Woobie. The major fight involving this virtue will involve sheathing your sword. And if, in the end, a true follower of this virtue cannot win the fight on their terms, they will Face Death with Dignity. Opposite of Wrath.

Temperance - Being Controlled in Self. The moral decision slopes encountered through life are slippery, and it is easy to descend into unintended but well intentioned extremism. That analogy considered, this virtue is like using crampons made out of justice. Those in command of this virtue realize the legitimacy in several different points of view, and maintain a neutral perspective dealing with issues that might cause Heroic BSOD in others. This virtue often leads to being able to Take a Third Option. This virtue is a specialty of a Badass Pacifist and usually the Guile Hero. Opposite of Gluttony.

In addition, an eighth virtue of Justice is sometimes added.

For the living personification of these virtues, see Incorruptible Pure Pureness. For virtues common in villains, see Evil Virtues. For the evil counterpart, see the Seven Deadly Sins.

Examples of Seven Heavenly Virtues include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Karakuridouji Ultimo, there are fifty Douji representing positive traits. Ultimo and the Six Perfects of Buddhism are the strongest of them, fighting against the Douji based on negative traits (including the Seven Deadly Sins).
  • The Shonen manga series Katekyo Hitman Reborn has the seven protagonists (battling for the right to inherit a powerful mafia family) embody the Seven Heavenly Virtues (in opposition to the antagonists, who embody the Seven Deadly Sins).
  • On the Pactio Cards in Mahou Sensei Negima there are several informations describing the partner. Among them the one called Virtus can be one of cardinal or theological virtues.


Comic Books[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • In Quest for Camelot, the introduction to Camelot itself is accompanied by a chorus of all of the Knights of the Round Table singing about unity of purpose. They go on to take their places at the table, each lifting their shield to honor their king, and then lowering it as they declare the virtue they most embody. There are far more than seven virtues listed, but 'faith', 'trust' (not exactly the same thing), 'strength', 'courage', 'kindness', 'balance', 'dignity', and 'honor' are listed, among others. Note that the main character's father laid down his shield on 'honor', and the villain laid his down with a shout of 'ME!'.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Dante's Divine Comedy, the seven virtues appear as beautiful maidens dancing around Beatrice's chariot in her triumphal procession at the end of Purgatory.
  • From Terry Pratchett's Discworld: In the country of Lancre, one family went and named their daughters after the Seven Heavenly Virtues, Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence so forth. And out of a misinformed sense of continuity, named their sons along the lines of Bestiality, Anger (among others). Subverted, because each of the daughters came to embody the sin opposite of her virtuous name. Meanwhile, despite everything else, Anger is a kind and calm man, while his brother Bestiality is kind to animals.

In Going Postal, the (now) Eight Virtues are Fortitude, Patience, Chastity, Charity, Hope, Silence, Tubso and Bissonomy. Few people practice Tubso and Bissonomy in the busy modern world, because no-one remembers what they are.

  • The Psychomachia (The Battle for the Soul of Man), by the Latin poet Prudentius, was written to depict the battle between the virtues and vices for the souls of mankind. Faith fights [Paganism], Chastity fights Lust, Patience 'fights' Wrath, and so on.
  • The Allegory of Love by CS Lewis references many of the virtues listed in Psychomachia. Among them are: Orthodoxy, Humility, Patience, and Self-Control in opposition to, respectively: Discord, Pride, Wrath, and Luxury.
  • In Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series, the Seven Heavenly Virtues are exemplified by the seven pieces of the Will, although an alternate system is used with the four Cardinal Virtues and the three Theological virtues. In order of appearance; Fortitude, Prudence, Faith, Justice, Temperance, Charity, and Hope. These characters are highly unbalanced and are supposed to become more reasonable as they merge into one entity.

Dame Primus, the entity they merge into, is nothing of the sort at first. Charity's joining her does make a bit of an impact though. And when Hope joins in, she becomes God.

  • The Anne of Green Gables books contain a passing reference to a woman who named her three daughters Faith, Hope, and Charity: "Faith didn't believe in anything, Hope was a born pessimist, and Charity was a miser."
  • The three theological virtues are poisonous to the White Court in The Dresden Files. They are also embodied by the three swords wielded by the Knights of the Cross: Fidelacchius (faith), Esperacchius (hope), and Amoracchius (love).


Religion[edit | hide]

  • The precursor to the seven heavenly virtues are the Cardinal virtues, first penned by Plato and Aristotle, and the Theological virtues, taken from the New Testament. They are as follows:

Cardinal: Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Courage.
Theological: Faith, Hope, and Love (also called Charity).

  • Buddhism teaches the Noble Eightfold Path, consisting of: Right view, Right intention, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, and Right concentration.
  • The Anishinaabe people (also known as the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Algonkins) of North America have the Seven Teachings, also known as the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers. They are: Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth.
  • This is also related to the "Fruits of the Spirit", also from the New Testament: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They are so named because the belief is that the Spirit will grow (like a fruit) these qualities in you.
  • The Charge of the Goddess names the eight virtues as wisdom, beauty, strength, power, mirth, reverence, compassion and humility.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In Chaosium's Pendragon, traits included Chaste/Lustful, Energetic, Forgiving, Generous, Honest, Just, Merciful, Modest/Proud, Pious/Worldly, Prudent/Reckless, Temperate/Indulgent, Trusting and Valorous. Some of the traits were considered virtues by specific cultures:
    • Christian: Chaste, Forgiving, Merciful, Modest, Temperate.
    • Pagan: Energetic, Generous, Honest, Lustful, Proud.
    • Wotanic: Generous, Indulgent, Proud, Reckless, Worldly.
  • In the New World of Darkness, all characters have both Vices and Virtues. Virtues (such as Charity or Faith) take much more work than Vices to fulfill, but fully restore Willpower when pulled off, as compared to Vices which damage the Karma Meter (but boost the Willpower stat).

The Virtues on their list don't precisely match the list given here, let us note. In alphabetical order: Charity, Faith, Fortitude, Hope, Justice, Prudence, Temperance.

  • Exalted doesn't have seven, but it does provide Four Virtues which structure the moral merits and failings of all sapient characters. They are Compassion, Valor, Conviction, and Temperance. Compassion encompasses Charity, Kindness, and Patience. Temperance corresponds to Chastity and Temperance. Conviction includes Diligence, but is more. Valor really doesn't correspond to anything on the list of Seven.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • In the musical Camelot, Mordred has a song about "The Seven Deadly Virtues", which he lists as Courage, Purity, Humility, Honesty, Diligence, Charity, and Fidelity.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Bayonetta, personifications of the four cardinal virtues are used as antagonists. They represent Courage, Temperance, Justice and Prudence.
  • The Ultima series
    • The original Eight Virtues which the Avatar must follow: Honesty, Compassion, Valor, Justice, Sacrifice, Honor, Spirituality, and Humility. In turn, these are taken from Three Principles: Truth, Love, and Courage.
    • The people of Killorn Keep in Ultima Underworld II observe a dystopian set of virtues: sobriety, punctuality, obedience, vigilance, conformity, efficiency, silence, diligence.
    • In Ultima VII part 2: Serpent Isle, the (now extinct and vanished, respectively) followers of Chaos and Order each had a set of virtues: Tolerance, Enthusiasm and Emotion for Chaos, and Ethicality, Discipline and Logic for Order. Interestingly, these are not considered opposites to each other, but instead complement each other in Balance, which is considered optimal. (Logic and Emotion creates Rationality, etc, making the virtues of Balance.) Conversely, embracing one while rejecting the other causes imbalance and becomes "anti-virtues": Emotion without Logic is Insanity, and Discipline without Enthusiasm becomes Apathy.
  • Final Fantasy XI contains seven bosses (as a group named Jailers of the Sea or Jailers of Virtue) named after the virtues. In order of kill, they are Jailer of: Temperance, Fortitude, Faith, Justice, Hope, Prudence, and Love.
  • Kingdom of Loathing—The Ultimate Legendary Epic Weapon of the Turtle Tamers is the Flail of the Seven Aspects, representing seven good traits of turtles: Strength, Wisdom, Protection, Tenacity, Fortitude, Valor, and Patience. It can attack seven times in one round.
  • In Daemon Bride, each of the Angel side Brides represents one of the seven virtues. Michael represents Righteousness, Uriel represents Courage, Rafael represents Wisdom, Gabriel represents Love, Zadkiel represents Loyalty / Faith, Metatron represents Fidelity / Chastity, and Haniel represents Prudence.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Sins has personifications of the seven heavenly virtues as some of the characters. In a subversion, they tend to suffer their virtues rather than embody them, and most are bitter about it (when not outright morally questionable).


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Seven separate virtues make up the Bushido code: Rectitude, Courage, Benevolence, Respect, Honesty, Honor, and Loyalty.
  • For traditional Japanese society, the Pillars of Moral Character: On (Reciprocacy), Gimu (Piety), Giri (Duty), and Ninjo (Compassion).
  • The United States Army endorses seven basic values within its ranks, with an acronym of LDRSHIP: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.
  • Knights of the Middle Ages often followed Knightly Virtues based on the heavenly and Cardinal virtues.
  • Kwanzaa, a celebration of Afro-American/African culture in the US has seven principles:
    • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
    • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
    • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.
    • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
    • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
    • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
    • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
  • The Boy Scout Law (American Version): "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent." Similar versions are used in other countries, expressing generally the same morals.
  • The three virtues of programming: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris. Wait...
  • Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder made a series of drawings about The Seven Heavenly Virtues, along with the Seven Deadly Sins.