Written on 02.02.2005,
by Roman Zakharii,

Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Their destiny is destruction,
their god is their stomach,
and their glory is in their shame.
Their mind is on earthly things

In Ukrainian:

Багато бо хто, поводяться, як вороги хреста Христового.
Їхній кінець то загибіль, шлунок їхній бог,
а слава в їхньому соромі... Вони думають тільки про земне!

Apostle Shaul (Paul) to Philippians 3:18-19



Articles of Gluttony

Excess in eating or drinking



The greatest medieval philosophers Thomas Aquinas and Maimonides on gluttony.

Selected passages by Roman Zakharii.



Gluttony is an excess in eating; extravagant indulgence of the appetite for food; voracity; habitual eating to excess.

I (Thomas Aquinas) answer that gluttony denotes, not any desire of eating and drinking, but an inordinate desire. Now desire is said to be inordinate through leaving the order of reason, wherin the good of moral virtue consists: and a thing is said to be a sin through being contrary to virtue. Wherefore it is evident that gluttony is a sin.

That which goes into man by the way of food, by reason of its substance and nature, does not defile a man spiritually. But the Jews, against whom our Lord is speaking, and the Manichees deemed certain foods to make a man unclean, not on account of their signification, but by reason of their nature. It is the inordinate desire of food that defiles a man spiritually.

The vice of gluttony does not regard the substance of food, but in the desire thereof not being regulated by reason. Wherefore if a man exceed in quantity of food, not from desire of food, but through deeming it necessary to him, this pertains not to gluttony, but to some kind of inexperience. It is a case of gluttony only when a man knowingly exceeds the measure in eating, from a desire for the pleasures of the palate.

The appetite is twofold:

1      there is natural appetite, which belongs to the powers of the vegetal soul. In these powers virtue and vice are impossible, since they cannot be subject to reason; wherefore the appetitive power is differentiated from the powers of secretion, digestion, and excretion, and to it hunger and thirst are to be referred.

2      Besides this there is another, the sensitive appetite, and it is in the concupiscence of this appetite that the vice of gluttony consists. Hence the first movement of gluttony denotes inordinateness in the sensitive appetite, and this is not without sin.

The vice of gluttony is said to bring virtue to naught, not so much on its own account, as on account of the vices which arise from it. For Gregory says:
When belly is distended by gluttony, the virtues of soul are destroyed by lust. The gluttony has a certain gravity, inasmuch as certain sins are occasioned thereby.

As stated above, gluttony denotes inordinate concupiscence in eating. Now two things are to be considered in eating, namely the food we eat, and eating thereof.

Accordingly, the inordinate concupiscence may be considered in two ways:

- First with regard to the food consumed: and thus, as regards the substance of species of food a man seeks "sumptuous" i.e. costly food; as regards its quality, he seeks food prepared too nicely i.e. "daintly"; and as regards quantity, he exceeds by eating "too much"

- Secondly, the inordinate concupiscence is considered as to the consumption of food: either because one forestalls the proper time of eating, which is to eat "hastily", or one fails to observe the due manner of eating, by eating "greedily":

Isidore comprises the first and second under one heading, when he says that the glutton exceeds in "what" he eats, or in "how much", "how" or "when he eats".

The corruption of various circumstances causes the various species of gluttony, on account of the various motives, by reason of which the species of moral things are differentiated. For in him that seeks sumptuous food, concupiscence is aroused by the very species of that food; in him that forestalls the time concupiscence is disordered through impatience of delay, and so forth.

The vice of gluttony, being about pleasures of touch which stand foremost among other pleasures, is fittingly reckoned among the
capital vices.

It is true that food itself is directed to something as its end: but since that end, namely sustaining of life, is most desirable and whereas life cannot be sustained without food, it follows that food too is most desirable; indeed nearly all the toil of man's life is directed thereto, according to Ecclisastes 6:7: "All the labour of man is for his mouth". Yet
gluttony seems to be about pleasures of food rather than about food itself.

Wherefore, as Augustine says (De Vera Relig. Iiii) "with such food as is good for the worthless body, men desire to be fed," wherein namely the pleasure consists, "rather than to be filled: since the whole end of that desire is this not to thirst and not to hunger"


I answer that, as stated above, gluttony consists properly in an immoderate pleasure in eating and drinking.

Wherefore those vices are reckoned among the daughters of gluttony, which are RESULTS OF EATING AND DRINKING IMMODERATELY:

These may be accounted for either on the part of the soul or on the part of the body.

Damages to the soul:

First, as regards the REASON, WHOSE KEENNESS IS DULLED by immoderate meat and drink, and in this reckon as a daughter of gluttony,
"dullness of sense in the understanding" on account of the fumes of food disturbing the brain.

Even so, on the other hand,
abstinence conduces to the penetrating power of wisdom, according to Ecclesiastes 2:3: "I thought in my heart to withdraw my flesh from wine, that I might turn my mind to wisdom"

Damages to the appetite:

Secondly, as regards the APPETITE, WHICH IS DISORDERED in many ways by immoderation in eating and drinking, as though reason were fast asleep at the helm, and in this respect "unseemly joy" is reckoned, because all the other inordinate passions are directed to joy or sorrow.
To this we must refer the saying of 3 Esdra 3:20, that "wine...gives every one a confident and joyful mind".

Maimonides adds to this, the soul when accustomed to superfluous things (as gluttony, overeating or obesity), acquires  a strong habit of desiring things which are neither necessary for the preservation of the individual nor for that of the species. THIS DESIRE IS WITHOUT A LIMIT, whilst things which are necessary are few in number and restricted within certain limits; but WHAT IS SUPERFLUOUS (excessive) IS WITHOUT END e.g., you desire to have your vessels of silver, but golden vessels are still better: other have vessels of saphire, or perhaps they can be made of emerald or rubies, or any other substance that could be suggested. Those who are ignorant and PERVERSE (gluttons included) in their thought are constantly in trouble and pain, because they cannot get as much of superfluous things as a certain person possesses.

Damages to speech purity:

Thirdly, as regards inordinate words, and thus we have "loquaciousness" (the quality of being wordy and talkative), because
as Gregory says "unless gluttons were carried away by immoderate speech, that rich man who is stated feasted sumptuously every day would not have been so tortured in his tongue".

Damages to man's decisions, behaviour and actions:

Fourthly, as regards inordinate action, and in this way we have "scurrility" (the quality of being vulgar, coarse, or abusive, being
foul-mouthed or of obscene abuse) i.e. kind of levity resulting FROM LACK OF REASON, which is unable not only to bridle the speech, but also to restrain outward behaviour. Hence a gloss on Eph. 5:4, "Or foolish talking or scurrility", says that "FOOLS CALL THIS GENIALITY i.e. JOCULARITY, because is wont to raise a laugh. Both of these, however, may be referred to the words which may happen to be sinful, either by reason of excess which belongs to "loquaciousness", or by reason of unbecomingness, which belongs to "scurrility".

Scurrility proceeds from the act of gluttony, and not from the lustful act, but from the lustful will: wherefore it may be referred to either vice.

The random riotous joy which is described as "unseemly" (indecent; not in accord with accepted standards of good taste; grossly improper) arises chiefly from IMMODERATE PARTAKING OF MEAT AND DRINK. In like manner we reply that DULLNESS OF SENSE as regards MATTERS OF CHOICE is common to all sin, whereas DULLNESS OF SENSE IN SPECULATIVE (thinking) MATTERS ARISES CHIEFLY FROM GLUTTONY.

Damages to the body:

On the part of the body, mention is made of "uncleanness", which may refer either to the inordinate emission of any kind of superfluities (overabundances / excesses), or especially to the emission of semen. Hence a gloss on Eph. 5:3. "But fornication and all uncleanness" says: "that is, any kind of incontinence that has reference to lust."

Maimonides adds, man's vices such as excessive desire for eating, drinking, and love, indulgences in these things in UNDUE MEASURE, or in IMPOROPER MANNER, or partaking of bad food BRINGS DISEASESES and AFFLICTIONS UPON BODY and soul alike. The sufferings of the body in consequence of these evils are well known. First such evils of the soul as are necessary consequence of changes in the body, in so far as the soul is a force residing in the body; it has been therefore said that properties of the soul depend on condition of the body;

Gluttony results in obesity - the condition of being obese; increased body weight caused by excessive accumulation of fat. It cause diabetes and numerous diseases.

Whom to blame for such consequences if the occur? Yourself!

Maimonides concludes:


When they thus meet with consequences (deceases included) of the course which they adopt (gluttony included) they
complain of the decrees and judgements of God; they begin to blame the time, and wonder at the want of justice in its changes; that its has not enabled them to acquire great riches, with which they could buy large quantities  of wine for the purpose of making themselves drunk, and numerous concubines adorned with various kind of ornaments of gold, embroidery, and jewels, for the purpose of driving themselves to voluptuousness beyond their capacities, as if whole Universe the properties of which they imagine cause these great evils, and which do not help all evil disposed persons to obtain the evil which they seek, as we have shown, ARE REALLY WITHOUT A LIMIT.




Created by Roman Zakharii on 07.11.2004 in Leipzig, Germany. Updated in 2013 in Iceland.
My e-mail is roman800@gmail.com


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