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Gluttony does not have the grandeur of pride, the often brilliant strategic meanness of envy and avarice, the glory of wrath. It does manage to gain some small allure by its association with lust, its sexy sibling sin of the flesh. Yet there is something irrevocably unseemly about gluttony, vulgar and lowbrow, self-indulgent in a swinish way. Gluttony is not the stuff of tragedy or epic. Imagine Hamlet too fat to take revenge or Homer making his topic the gluttony of Achilles rather than his wrath. With gluttony, compare pride and anger, sins that mark the grand action of revenge, sins that can be emblematized by tigers, lions, eagles, and hawks, rather than by pigs and (dare I say it) humans. Gluttony requires some immersion in the dank and sour realm of disgust. Gluttony inevitably leads to regurgitation, excrement, hangover, and gas and to despair and feelings of disgust. But it has a cheerier side too that I don't mean to ignore: the delights and pleasures of good food, drink, and convivial joys. If gluttony often drags disgust in its wake, it also motivates a certain kind of amiability that makes for good companionship, hospitality, and even a kind of easygoing benevolence.


Published as Miller, William I. "Gluttony." Representations 60 (1997): 92-112. © [1997] by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by [the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of the Sponsoring Society] for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on [JSTOR (] or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center,