Monks living in the desert in Egypt identify eight thoughts that weaken their devotion. Talking Back, a book by Roman monk Evagrius of Pontus, instructs monks on how to fight gluttony, lust, love of money, sadness, anger, listlessness, vainglory and pride.
Early fifth century
John Cassian, a student of Evagrius, proposes that the sins connect sequentially. For example, he suggests that lust comes from gluttony and avarice arises from lust.
Late fifth century
Priest-historian Gennadius of Massilia translates Evagrius' work into Latin. He posits that the devil and human nature alike lead us into temptation.
Pope Gregory the Great revises the list to create the one we know today: pride, wrath, envy, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust. He considered pride to be the root of all sins.
Texts detailing the seven deadly sins abound after a church council decrees that all Christians must go to confession at least once a year.
Thomas Aquinas writes Summa Theologica, in which he defines lust more precisely as adultery, rape, seduction, bestiality, sodomy, or sex without reproduction in mind.
Early 14th century
The rise of a wealthy middle class leads some theologians to decry avarice as the number-one sin.
Dante Alighieri writes the Divine Comedy, which delves into the punishments doled out in purgatory for every sin. For example, the proud were humbled by having to carry heavy stones.
Hieronymus Bosch paints The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things. In a series of everyday scenes, Bosch depicts the aristocracy as proud and lustful, merchants as envious, avaricious and slothful, and the poor as wrathful and gluttonous.
Pieter Brueghel the Elder's engravings use cartoonish characters and surreal landscapes to depict the sins.
The Brothers Grimm publish their famous book of fairy tales, establishing envy as a common trait of stepmothers.
Charles Allan Gilbert draws his famous visual pun All Is Vanity, an image of a woman admiring herself in the mirror that, when viewed from afar, looks like a skull.
First performance of George Balanchine's ballet The Seven Deadly Sins. Every act takes place in a different city: wrath in Los Angeles, lust in Boston and envy in San Francisco, to name a few.
A win for sloth: TV remote controls enter mass production. One early model was Zenith Radio Corporation's “Lazy Bones.”
Gluttonous Augustus Gloop, greedy Veruca Salt and wrathful Mike Teavee take a fateful tour of Willy Wonka's factory in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The movie Wall Street picks apart the greed behind corporate raiding and insider trading.
One of the first empirical studies on how Christians rank the sins is published. This sample of parishioners views “life-rejecting melancholy” as the worst sin, followed by lust and anger.
Australian artist Susan Dorothea White proposes that today's deadly sins are the opposite of the original ones. Indifference has replaced anger, workaholism has ousted sloth and squandering is more prevalent than avarice.
The movie Seven is released. In the film, a serial killer targets “sinners,” with every “punishment” designed to fit the “crime.”
Homer Simpson proclaims sloth to be part of American culture: “If you don't like your job, you don't strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way.”
The International Federation of Competitive Eating is born, establishing gluttony as a sport.
Cognitive-behavior therapy, which emphasizes reframing thoughts and behavior change, is shown to be effective for anger management.
Pride takes a venomous turn: the FDA approves Botox to improve the appearance of forehead lines.
Bishop Gianfranco Girotti announces that the Catholic Church has added seven new sins: polluting, genetic engineering, obscene wealth, drug abuse, abortion, pedophilia and the perpetration of social injustice.
Roberto Busa, an Italian priest and Jesuit scholar, tallies up confessions he has received. He concludes that men's number-one sin is lust, whereas pride tops the list for women.
First confessional iPhone app is developed. It helps users keep their sins straight and includes a “custom examination of conscience” and the ability to “choose from seven different acts of contrition.”
Pride and envy get a facelift. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that the number of cosmetic procedures is up 250 percent since 1997.