In Dante's Inferno, the first Canticle of the Divine Comedy, the lustful are punished by being continuously swept around in a whirlwind, which symbolizes their passions. Penitents who are guilty of lust cleanse their soul of the sin by walking through flames, thereby purging their minds of all lustful thoughts.


In Christianity, the word "lust" is commonly used to translate the New Testament Greek "epithymia". In the New Testament, it is treated as one of many sins and states of mind. However, it is always distinguished from sexual desire, which in Christianity is a God-given gift. Lust, however, is regarded as a wanton perversion of that gift, and is used to refer to unchecked desire for fornication, adultery, or any sexual intercourse outside of marriage. It features in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus states that adultery is not merely directly physical, but that whenever a man lusts after a woman, he has 'committed adultery with her in his heart'. This is part of a general explanation the nature of sin as a state of humanity rather than a list of acts, and other sins are also portrayed as examples. In Roman Catholicism, it is considered one of the Seven Deadly Sins under the Latin name of 'luxuria'.


In traditional Judaism, nothing on Earth was created without a purpose. This includes basic human drives. Lust is only sinful when it is after another man's possessions or wife. Thus, the word lust retains its original meaning. Many argue, however, that the difference between this and the Christian viewpoint is merely one of semantics.

Symbolic representations

A frequent visual symbol for the sin of lust is the color blue, as with the cover of the book Lust in The Seven Deadly Sins series published by the Oxford University Press.

Another symbol of lust is the animal cow (or bull). An example of this appears in the engraving Shamelessness by the 16th century artist Georg Pencz.

Lust can also be seen in the eponymous Eighth ATU in the Thoth Tarot card of Aleister Crowley.

See also


Further reading

External links

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