Cardinal Sins, are those which lead to other greater sins. For example, Greed for gold may lead one to steal or even kill to acquire more gold. The Lotus-eaters or Lotophagi was a group of people that Odysseus encountered in his 10-year odyssey to return home. This paper will compare the sins of the Lotophagi with two cardinal sins Sloth and Gluttony. Then it will give contemporary examples of Lotophagi.
Sloth and Gluttony are two of the seven Cardinal Sins. Between the two Sloth is the perhaps the worst because a person who is Slothful is lazy and does nothing. While one might argue that a Sloth who does nothing commits no Sin, one has to remember that a person who does nothing may not sin but also does any good. The parable of the talents (a kind of money) is informative where the servant who was given the fewest talents was beaten and fired after he did nothing with the talents except bury them. The three major Abrahamic religions frown upon sloths because of their lack of productivity. In Dante’s inferno, sloths are left drowning in a swamp for all eternity.
Gluttons are not so far behind Sloths in terms of depravity. The typical concept of a Glutton is an obese man who eats far too much. Gluttony is evil because eating too much means that fewer resources are available to feed others. Gluttons in hell spend their eternity damned to eat and eat.
The Lotus-eaters are ‘high’ they are high on drugs. Apparently, the Lotus that they are eating is a kind of narcotic to which they got addicted to. Not only did they want to keep consuming more and more of the Lotus but they did no work. In fact they did nothing all day but eat the Lotus. Lotus-eaters were guilty of both sloth and gluttony, Sloth because they did no productive work, Gluttony because all they did all day was eat the Lotus.
In the modern world there are two distinct classes of Lotus-Eaters / Glutton-Sloths. They are drug addicts and first-world Countries like the United States.
Drug addicts, obviously, are like the Lotus-eaters because their entire day is given to consuming illegal, controlled substances. They are rarely capable of doing productive work and when they try they are a disservice to whatever job they try to do. Addicts are a strain on resources because government spends good money to rehabilitate them. They are also a crime risk because they need to find means to sustain their expensive vice. Many addicts turn to theft or robbery to get the money to buy more drugs. Also, like cardinal sins, a Drug addict’s addiction can also lead him to other worse sins like Murder or Rape as their addled minds are no longer able to tell right from wrong.
The United States as a Lotus-Eater sound like a ridiculous claim. However, if you look at the sad plight of U.S. industries you will see why. Any industry that can be outsourced has already been outsourced. Tech-support, customer service and other back-office works have already been outsourced to India. Detroit is suffering because most car manufacturers chose to have cars made in China now. Foreigners also dominate many service industries often because no Americans are willing or capable of doing them. For example, many nurses are now Filipinos because that country produces many nurses while very few graduate the same course in the U.S. Many teachers are also hired from overseas because Americans don’t want to teach. If Slothful America wasn’t bad enough the U.S. is also Gluttony central. Just look at all the overweight people around. The U.S. is also a savage consumer of natural resources so much so that Bush had to invade Iraq just to ensure the nation’s oil supply.
Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Samuel Butler.