A personification of envy, painted by Giotto
Envy is the sin of wanting (or coveting) what other people have, or more precisely resentment or bitterness over what other people have. This can include possessions, power, social standing, or even things that the envious person could not possibly gain for himself, such as talent or looks. To covet what another has is to desire primarily to deprive the other person of the good they have, and secondarily to take and possess it as one's own, not usually to enjoy, but solely as revenge for the other ever having had it. It is forbidden by one of the Ten Commandments and also considered one of the Seven Deadly Sins. In Virtue ethics, envy is considered an excess of Righteous Indignation- "the envious person is pained [by the] good fortune of others, whether deserved or not". As such, even people not among God's chosen recognized this as a vice before the birth of Christ.
The sin of envy is interesting in that it does not cause any direct harm to others by itself and its indulgence never gives any pleasure or satisfaction to the envious person, but only the dissatisfied torment of feeling deprived or cheated by bitter contrast with others. Rather, people commit other sins such as theft or deceit when they act on their envious feelings. (Like other sins, of course, it distances the sinner from God.) Envy is a form of enmity or hate and is opposed by the virtues of generosity and charity.
Famous examples of people motivated by envy include Iago, the villain from Shakespeare's Othello, and Cain, who was driven to commit the first murder because he envied his brother Abel.
Vandalism which defaces beautiful buildings and public and religious works of art is motivated by envy.
Envy and the secular left
See also: Atheism and envy and Secular left
The modern atheistic and egalitarian envy of genuine greatness or admirable public moral rectitude impels many persons in the public media to attempt to slander and libel anyone who displays virtue or is in an enviable position of power. (See Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: egalitarianism (plato.stanford.edu).) It is a form of hatred of the good and of moral-ethical leadership (auctoritas). They want no heroes or leaders of admirable character, and outwardly act as if they do not believe such people could possibly be what they seem to be and have tasked themselves with the mission of unmasking them as frauds who have betrayed the public trust. See Hypocrites. Many of them who despise and ridicule Christianity and the Ten Commandments as repressively intolerant bigotry, virtually hold public figures and governmental officials to a standard of essentially Judeo-Christian moral behavior and condemn them when they are charged with violations of it, calling for their removal. This is not because they admire virtue, but because they despise it and are disgusted by it, and because the very sight of genuine virtue is a hardship for them. (See Wisdom 2:12-24 "through the envy of the devil death entered the world.")