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Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2016, Volume 37

Hugh of St Victor's De quinque septenis (On the Five Sevens) and its Versification in Samuel Presbiter's De oratione dominica (On the Lord's Prayer)

Edited by Andrew Dunningby Hugh of St Victor


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On the Five Sevens


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 Five sevens, brother, have I found in sacred scripture:
 if I am able, I wish first to recognize them, as
 you ask, by enumerating them in turn one by one;
and afterwards to show how much
 correspondence they each have among themselves, by
 bringing them together. In the first place
 the seven vices are put forward: the first pride, the second envy, the third
 anger; the fourth sadness, the fifth greed, the sixth gluttony,
10 the seventh lust. Against these,
 the seven requests included in the Lord’s Prayer are set in the second place.
 The first is the one by which it is said to God, hallowed be
 your name
; the second by which it is said, your
 kingdom come
; the third by which it is said; your will
15 be done, on earth as in heaven
; the fourth by which it is said,
 give us today our daily bread; the fifth
 by which it is said, forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors;
 the sixth by which it is said, lead us not into temptation;
 the seventh by which it is said, deliver us from evil.
20 In the third place the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit follow:
 first, the spirit of the fear of the Lord; second, the spirit
 of godliness; third, the spirit of knowledge; fourth, the spirit
 of strength; fifth, the spirit of counsel; sixth,
 the spirit of understanding; seventh, the spirit of wisdom.

25 Then in the fourth place the seven virtues follow: the first,
 poverty of spirit, that is humility; the second,
 graciousness or kindness; the third, remorse or
 sorrow; the fourth, the hunger for righteousness or good desire;
 the fifth, mercy; the sixth, cleanness of heart;
30 the seventh, peace.
Finally, in the fifth place the seven beatitudes are set:
 the first,
the kingdom of heaven;
 the second, the possession of the land of the living; the third,
 consolation; the fourth, the satisfaction of righteousness; the fifth, mercy;
 the sixth, the vision of God; the seventh, the sonship of God.
In this way,
35 recognize those in the first place so that you may understand vices themselves
 as if are were certain sicknesses of the soul, or wounds
 of the inner person. The very person, indeed,
 is like a patient, and God the physician. The gifts of the Holy
 Spirit are the remedy. The virtues are healthiness. The
40 beatitudes are the joy of happiness.
There are, accordingly,
 seven capital or principal vices, and from these
 rise all evils. These are the sources of the dark pit
 bfrom which the waters of Babylon flow
 and drops of iniquity pour, leading into every land.
45 The psalmist
 sings about these waters in the person of the faithful people, saying, By
 the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept,
 when we remembered Zion. On the willows in its midst
 we hung up our instruments.
We will speak, therefore, concerning these seven vices – ravagers, both
50 corrupting all uprightness of nature and
 producing the seed of all evils –
 as much as we think is appropriate
 for explaining the present business.
 There are seven, then, and from these, the first three strip a person;
55 the fourth whips the stripped; the fifth
 drives out the whipped; the sixth seduces the person driven out;
 the seventh subjects the seduced to slavery.
 For pride takes God away from a person;
envy takes
 his neighbour from him;
anger takes himself from him; sadness
60 whips the stripped person;
greed drives out the whipped;
 gluttony seduces the person driven out; lust subjects the seduced
 to slavery.
Now, turning back, let us explain each in order.
 We say that pride takes God away from a person.
 For pride is the love of one’s own
65 status, when a soul loves the good that it has
 on its own, that is, without him from whom he accepted the good.

 O destructive pride, what are you urging? Why are you suggesting
 to a small stream that it should separate itself from its source? Why are you suggesting
 to a ray that it should turn itself away from the sun? Why indeed, unless so that the one,
70 while it ceases to be filled, runs dry; and the other, while
 it is turned away from the light, becomes dark:

 indeed, when each ceases to accept that which it does not yet have,
 it immediately loses even what it does have. When you achieve this,
 you direct in your teaching to love the gift apart from the giver,
75 so that one who wrongly claims for one’s own a part of a good which has been given by that giver
 loses the whole good which is in
 him. And thus it happens that he is also not able to possess that which he has
 advantageously, while he does not love the one from whom he has the good in him.
 For in the same way as every good is truly
80 from God, just so can no good be had advantageously outside of God.

 Indeed, on the contrary, even what one has is lost,
 by the fact that he from which it is held is not loved in him and with him.
 Because whoever has not learned
 to love unless it is the good that he has in himself,

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85 awhile he observes in another a good that he does not have,
 it is necessary that his own imperfection torments him so bitterly
 that he does not love him in whom every good exists.
 And on that account, pride always follows envy,
 because he who does not fasten love in that place where
90 every good exists is so wickedly elated with pride in himself
 that he is painfully tormented by the good of another.
 His penalty, accordingly, is most rightly assigned for his glorification:
 the very one that envy begat from itself. Because he has refused to love a good
 for the common benefit of all, he now rightly
95 wastes away in the envy of another’s good. How surely
 does the approach of another’s happiness not burn if he,
 though love, holds him in whom every good exists.
 For he does not even judge the good of another to be detached from himself,
 if he loves his own in that place where he might possess at the same time
100 the good of both himself and of another. Now therefore, as much as he
 praises himself through pride against the creator, so much
 does he fall under his neighbour through envy; and as much as he is
 deceptively raised there, so much does he here truly cause himself
 to fall.
But the disintegration, once begun, cannot stop here.
105 For as soon as envy has been born from pride,
 this breeds anger from itself – because the unhappy
 soul is now angered on account of its own imperfection,
 since it does not delight through charity in the good of another.
 And therefore it begins to be displeased even with what it has,
110 because it recognizes in another that which it cannot have.
 He therefore who could have held the whole through charity, in God,
 loses even that which he was attempting to have by pride outside of God
 through envy and anger,
 because after he loses God through pride,
115 he loses his neighbour through envy, and through anger himself.
 Because therefore, when everything is lost, nothing remains
 from which it can be glad, the unhappy conscience is crushed in itself through sadness,
 and since it has refused to delight in another’s good faithfully,
 it is rightly tormented by its own evil. So after
120 pride and envy and anger, which strip a person,
 sadness immediately follows, which whips
 the stripped person. Greed approaches him next,
 which drives out the whipped, because, when inward joy is
 lost, it drives him to seek consolation outside.
125 Afterwards gluttony draws near, which seduces the person driven out, because
 it attracts the soul desiring this vice by outer things in the first place,
 bas if tempting to excess from a neighbour – through natural desire itself.
 Finally comes
 lust, which violently subjects the seduced to slavery,
130 because after the flesh is set on fire through gluttony,
 the weakened and feebly determined soul
 cannot conquer the oncoming flame of passion.
 The mind has therefore been enslaved most savagely
 to coercion, subdued in a disgraceful manner, and unless the requested goodness of the saviour
135 brings relief, it will not now exist: so,
 serving captivity, its lost freedom may not be restored.

 Accordingly, seven requests follow against seven
, from which we pray him to come and help who
 also taught us to pray, and promised that he would give his good Spirit to those who pray,
140 to heal our wounds and loosen the yoke
 of our captivity.
 But before we may come to the explanation of these,
 we first wish to demonstrate by yet another
 analogy how much disintegration the aforesaid vices produce in us,
145 so it may be proven that however
 more dangerous the disease is, so much greater
 is the necessary medicine. Through pride
 therefore the heart is caused to swell; through envy it dries up; through anger
 it cracks; through sadness it is crushed, and reduced as if to
150 dust; through greed it is scattered;
 through gluttony it is infected, as if it is moistened; through
 lust it is trampled and reduced to mud;
 so that the unhappy person can now say,
I was stuck
 in the deep mire, and there is no substance.
I came into
155 the depths of the sea, and a tempest overwhelmed me.

 And when the soul has been stuck in this deep mire,
 and wrapped up in the mud of defilement and uncleanness,
 it can by no means be pulled out, unless it shouts to him
 and asks for his help, of whom the
160 psalmist speaks, saying, Waiting, I waited for
 the Lord, and he listened to me. And he heard
 my prayers and drew me out from a pit of wretchedness and from the miry mud
As a result of this, therefore,
 he has taught us to to pray, so that our whole good
 may be from him, that we may also understand that what we ask and what
165 we accept of his gifts when we seek them is not of our merit.
 The first request, therefore, is against
 pride, by which we say to God, Hallowed be your name.
 For we ask this so that he might allow us to fear

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 ahis name and treat it as holy, so that we might be obedient to him through humility –
170 we who have stepped forth through pride, rebellious
 and insubordinate.
For this request the
 spirit of the fear of the Lord is given, so that he, coming to the heart,
 might create in it the virtue of humility, which
 may heal the sickness of pride – so that the humble person can come to the kingdom of heaven,
175 which the arrogant angel lost through pride.

 The second request is
 against envy, by which it is said, your kingdom come.
 In fact, the kingdom of God is the salvation of mankind,
 because God is said to reign in people at that moment
180 when people themselves are subject to God,
 at first devoting themselves to him through faith, and after clinging to him
 through sight. Who therefore asks that the kingdom of God might come
 undoubtedly seeks the salvation of human beings. And through
 this, while he asks for the common salvation of all,
185 he shows that he rejects the vice of envy.

 For this request the spirit of godliness is given, so that he, coming to the heart,
 might kindle it to kindness, so that
 that person himself might reach the same possession of the eternal inheritance
 to which he desires others to reach.
The third
190 request is against anger, by which it is said, Your will be done,
 on earth as in heaven.
For he does not wish to dispute
 who says, Your will be done, but he proclaims that whatever the will of God should arrange pleases him,
 whether in himself or in others, according to
 the judgement of his graciousness.
For this
195 request, therefore, the spirit of knowledge is given, that he,
 coming to the heart, might instruct and prick it in a manner beneficial to the soul,
 that the person might know the evil which is allowed to come into being from
 his fault; and if he has had some good, that it comes
 from the mercy of God. Through this, the spirit teaches him not to become angry against the creator,
200 whatever he might endure in evil or lack in goods,
 but to show his ability to tolerate adversity through everything.

 Anger and indignation of the heart, then, are best tamed through a prick of remorse in the heart,
 which, with the spirit of knowledge working, is produced within
 from humility;
205 because on the other hand anger kills the foolish,
 when in adversities, vexed and blinded through the intolerance of the vices,
 he either does not recognize that he has deserved the evil
 or that he accepted the good that he has
 through grace. Yet the reward of consolation follows this
210 virtue, that is the prick of remorse or sorrow,
 bso that whoever
 voluntarily humbles himself here on earth before God through laments
 may there in heaven deserve to find true joy and happiness.

 4The fourth request is against sadness, by which it is said,
215 Give us today our daily bread. For sadness
 is weariness of the soul with grief, when
 the mind does not desire inward goods, caused to become dispirited in a certain way, and made bitter by its vice;
 and with all its liveliness
 dead, it does not become happy at any desire of spiritual restoration.

220 As a result of this, to heal this vice
 it is necessary for us
 to pray for the mercy of the Lord, so that
 he might, in his usual goodness, apply the nourishment of inward restoration to the feeble weariness of his soul,
 so that it might begin to love what it does not know to seek without it
225 when it is reminded by the taste of what is available. Therefore for this request
 the spirit of strength is given, that it may lift up the weary spirit,
 in order that, when it has recovered that virtue of its former strength,
 it might recover from the weakness of its weariness to the desire of inward
 taste. The spirit of strength accordingly creates
230 in the heart a hunger for righteousness, so that while it is here on earth intensely kindled through the desire for devoutness,
 it may pursue full abundance to that place in heaven
 for the reward of blessedness.

 The fifth request is against greed, by which it is said,
 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
235 For it is right that when a debt is to be paid back,
 he should not be anxious who refused to be
 greedy in demanding its payment. And for that reason, when the vice of greed is taken from us through the grace of God,
 it is given in such a manner that we should be absolved from our debt,
 out of the proposed terms of salvation.

240 For this request, therefore, the spirit of counsel is given,
 who teaches us in this world
 to pay attention to our sins willingly, so that in
 the future, when we deliver an account for our sins,
 we will deserve to find mercy.
The sixth request is
245 against gluttony, by which it is said, Lead us not,
 that is, do not allow us to be led, into temptation. This is the temptation
 by which the pleasures of the flesh often strive
 to pull us to excess through natural desire, and
 secretly put pleasure under their control, while openly
250 speaking smoothly about their necessity to us.
 Assuredly, we will then by no means be led into this temptation
 if we strive to pay attention to the assistance of nature, following the limit of necessity,

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 aso that we will always remember
 to restrain the appetite from the pleasures of delight.

255 And so that we may have the strength to fulfil this,
 the spirit of understanding is given to us who ask for it, so that
 the inward restoration of the word of God might restrain outward desire,
 and that bodily need might neither
 have the strength to crush the mind strengthened by spiritual food, nor
260 to overcome the desire of the flesh. For this reason indeed the Lord himself responded
 to his tempter, while he was making a false hint
 about the refreshment of outward bread,
 saying, One does not live by bread alone,
 but by every word that comes from the mouth of God
, so that he might openly show
265 that when the mind is restored with that bread inwardly,
 it does not particularly care
 if the flesh should outwardly undergo hunger for a time.
The spirit of understanding is therefore given against gluttony,
 but he, coming to the heart, cleans it thoroughly
 and frees it from moral corruption, and makes the mind’s eye bright and clear,
270 healing it by the recognition of the word of God, as if with an eye-salve,
 that it might be made sharp-sighted
 for considering even the very brightness of the divine nature.
 Against the vice of gluttony,
 therefore, the cure of the spirit of understanding is placed.
275 From the spirit of understanding, however,
 cleanness of the heart is born.
For cleanness of heart, moreover,
 the vision of God is promised. As it is written, Blessed are the
 clean in heart, for they will see God.
The seventh petition is against
 lust, by which it is said, Deliver us from evil.

280 The slave appropriately asks for freedom, and for that reason
 the spirit of wisdom is given for this request, which restores the lost freedom
 to the prisoner, and through grace he escapes the yoke of sinful
 coercion, which he did not have the strength to accomplish by his own means.
 Wisdom (sapientia), indeed, is so called from
285 taste (sapor), since the mind, touched by the flavour of inward sweetness,
 gathers its whole self within through desire,
 and it is never weakly loosened externally in the pleasure of the flesh,
 because it holds everything within in which it delights.
 Sweetness within, therefore, is fittingly placed against external pleasure,
290 so that however much
 more it may have begun to taste and be pleased, so much more freely and
 willingly may this be despised, and the mind, finally made peaceful in itself
 as long as there is nothing it may desire externally,
 rests within, complete, through love.
Therefore the spirit
295 bof wisdom, touching the heart with its sweetness, both
 regulates the flame of external desire, and creates inward peace when it numbs lust,
 so that while
 the mind is entirely gathered to inward joy,
 a person may fully and completely be restored to the image of God,
300 as it is written, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called
 sons of God.
Behold, brother, I have completed your request not in such a manner as I should have,
 but as I have been able in the meantime.
 Take the small gift on the five sevens that
 you asked for, and when you look on it, remember
305 me. May the grace of God be with you. Amen.