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Cover of "The Early History of Greed" featuring medieval illustrations of men and beasts
June 2006
Cambridge University Press

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The Early History of Greed

The Sin of Avarice in Early Medieval Thought and Literature
Richard Newhauser

In this full-length study of the early history of greed, Richard Newhauser challenges the traditional view that avarice only became a dominant sin with the rise of a money economy. He shows that avaritia, the sin of greed for possessions, was dominant in a wide range of theological and literary texts from the first century C.E., and that by the early Middle Ages avarice headed the list of vices for authors aiming to convert others from pagan materialism to Christian spirituality.


Richard Newhauser is a professor in the Department of English at Arizona State University.