trinity knight shieldWilliam Peraldus, Summa on the Vices

An Outline

prepared by

Richard G. Newhauser, Siegfried Wenzel, Bridget K. Balint, and Edwin Craun


This site provides a detailed outline of William Peraldus, Summa on the Vices (Summa de vitiis). It is intended to supplement the critical edition and translation of this text that is currently underway by the editorial team of Richard G. Newhauser (Department of English, Arizona State University), Siegfried Wenzel (emer., Department of English, University of Pennsylvania), Bridget K. Balint (Department of Classical Studies, Indiana University), and Edwin Craun (emer., Department of English, Washington and Lee University). This project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014. The edition will be published with a facing-page English translation in three volumes by Oxford University Press.

William Peraldus (c. 1200 - c. 1271) studied at the university in Paris, and became the prior of the Dominican Order in Lyon. He published his treatment of the vices c. 1236, and put it in circulation together with his treatment of the virtues by 1249/1250. The Summa is composed of nine treatises of varying length, in the following order: vice in general, gluttony, lechery, avarice, sloth (or acedia), pride, envy, wrath, and the sin of the tongue. As those who consult this site, and the Summa itself, will see, some of these treatises are fairly short (Vice in general, Gluttony, Envy), others are of moderate length (Lust, Wrath, the Sin of the Tongue), and three are massive compositions hundreds of pages in length (Avarice, Sloth, Pride). In all of them, Peraldus gathered together, organized, and analyzed the most current ethical resources of his day for the benefit of preachers and confessors engaged in the pastoral work of the Church following the canons of the Fourth Lateran Council.

The outline provides a guide to the full content, including images, metaphors, and cited material, to be found in Peraldus' Summa. Currently, the outline provides links to translations of texts quoted or referred to by Peraldus in his work. We have attempted to provide links to the most current and most accurate translations available on the Internet. All biblical passages refer to the Douay-Rheims translation, an accurate English rendering based on the Vulgate version of the Latin Bible and completed by the English Colleges in Rheims and Douay in 1582 and 1609. The Vulgate was the Latin text of Scriptures most widely disseminated in the Middle Ages and the one quoted by Peraldus. As the site grows, it will also provide explanatory material not found in the critical edition and translation. This site is an extension of The Peraldus Project site, where the interested reader can find brief outlines of the treatises making up the Summa on the Vices if the treatises are not yet outlined in more detailed form here.

To view the outline of material in the Summa on the Vices, click on the links to the separate treatises on the left.

For further information about the edition of the Summa on the Vices or to comment on the outline, please contact Professor Newhauser at






The preparation of this outline would not have been possible without the efforts of the editors and the assistance of the following students at Arizona State University: Caleb Chou, Rodmanned Nikpour, Amanda Wilhite.

Image above from London, British Library MS. Harley 3244, folios 27v-28r (here 28r), showing an allegorical knight preparing to battle the seven deadly sins and their progeny with the "Scutum Fidei" diagram of the Trinity as his "shield of faith."
This is part of a ca. 1255-1265 illustration of the Summa de vitiis by William Peraldus. Public Domain image.




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