Trees of virtues
were a metaphorical
method employed by medieval Christian monks
to assess the relationships between virtues
. In a tree of virtues, some virtues are designated as the most heavenly
while other virtues are considered aspects, or branches
, of those virtues. These "secondary virtues" were considered less directly associated with heaven.
Trees of vices were analogous metaphors used to determine the relationships between sins. While on a tree of virtues, the leaves point upward toward heaven, on a tree of vices the leaves point downward toward hell.