The thing about Vices is that they have boundless energy, and are virtually immortal. Even if they are beaten, they always bounce back in the end. They are the original supervillains. Onstage, they are often in cahoots with the audience, getting their participation in the corruption of the main character. Essentially, they are clown figures, always goofing off and telling dirty jokes, even as they work on behalf of the forces of chaos and evil.
They are so very wrong, so very bad, and so very fun to watch.
Physically, Vices are often exaggerated in their forms, as these images from the National Library of the Netherlands Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts show:
|Hypocrisy and Gluttony confront a wandering monk. Note Gluttony's enormous mouth and maybe barf? maybe food? protruding from it.|
|Pride borne by Flattery. Pride is depicted tooting her own horn.|
|Treachery and Calumny (aka Slander) riding upon Envy's back. The arrows protruding from Envy's eyes show that she is always ready to stab those of whom she is jealous.|
I have wondered if it wasn't the rise of drama that killed the depiction of the Vices as women. As the stage developed into a commercial enterprise, it became illegal in many parts of Europe for women to act in dramas. (They were still allowed comic roles on some parts of the continent, but not in Britain, at least not until the late 17th century.)
Just as Vices almost never died onstage or in allegorical works of fiction, they never quite leave us. They are still there in films (see the early part of Jim Carrey's career, Jack Black, and other over the top comedians). For those of you who spend a lot of time online, the Vice surfaces again and again in the form of the internet troll.
While your mileage may vary in terms of encounters with actual internet trolls, the iconic version of this figure can be pretty darned amusing.
If you run into serious trouble, though, there is an antidote. (The makers don't allow embedding - click through if you've got a couple of minutes and you want to be amused.)