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Psychomachia represented on a Romanesque capital at the Monastery of Sant Cugat, Catalonia

The Psychomachia (Battle for Man's soul) by the Late Antique Latin poet Prudentius is probably the first and most influential "pure" medieval allegory, the first in a long tradition of works as diverse as the Romance of the Rose, Everyman, and Piers Plowman.

In slightly less than a thousand lines, the poem describes the conflict of vices and virtues as a battle in the style of Virgil's Aeneid. Christian faith is attacked by and defeats pagan idolatry to be cheered by a thousand Christian martyrs.


Despite the fact that seven virtues defeat seven vices, these are not the canonical seven deadly sins, nor the three theological and four cardinal virtues.

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