Vices and Virtues is the earliest Middle English prose dialogue (MS BM Stowe, c. 1200). The text is written in the South East dialect and imperfect at the beginning. The Soul confesses it sins to Reason, who explains the concept of the Christian virtues. Soul and Body discuss their different composition, and Mercy, Truth, Pity, Peace and Patience hold an allegorical meeting.

The vices and virtues give an idea of the main rules of life according to the church and main aspects of Christianity. They teach the existence (or not) of certain ideals by which to measure right and wrong. The conflict between right and wrong is always a question of vices and virtues. The terms of vices and virtues help to reveal the ideal man or woman of medieval thoughts, present a reflection of the ethical principles upon which the medieval ideal was founded, and thus were a kind of a living guide to the ideas and ideals of medieval life. The most systematic works on virtues can be found in Aristotle or Aquinas.

In general, one can say virtues are of a beneficial character because most of them benefit the human being and other people as well. The moral attitude towards living must be permanently trained and its desire must always be to do good. A sinful mind knows about the guilt of his failings. A deadly sin is committed on purpose with a plan. The consequence is always the exclusion of God's grace. The most decisive point is that after a fight with oneself virtue is victorious over vice or sin.


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Vices and Virtues