Chapter 1. On Eating.
Keeping, then, to our aim, and selecting the Scriptures which bear on the usefulness of training for life, we must now compendiously describe what the man who is called a Christian ought to be during the whole of his life. We must accordingly begin with ourselves, and how we ought to regulate ourselves. We have therefore, preserving a due regard to the symmetry of this work, to say how each of us ought to conduct himself in respect to his body, or rather how to regulate the body itself. For whenever any one, who has been brought away by the Word from external things, and from attention to the body itself to the mind, acquires a clear view of what happens according to nature in man, he will know that he is not to be earnestly occupied about external things, but about what is proper and peculiar to man — to purge the eye of the soul, and to sanctify also his flesh. For he that is clean rid of those things which constitute him still dust, what else has he more serviceable than himself for walking in the way which leads to the comprehension of God.
Some men, in truth, live that they may eat, as the irrational creatures, whose life is their belly, and nothing else. But the Instructor enjoins us to eat that we may live. For neither is food our business, nor is pleasure our aim; but both are on account of our life here, which the Word is training up to immortality. Wherefore also there is discrimination to be employed in reference to food. And it is to be simple, truly plain, suiting precisely simple and artless children — as ministering to life, not to luxury. And the life to which it conduces consists of two things — health and strength; to which plainness of fare is most suitable, being conducive both to digestion and lightness of body, from which come growth, and health, and right strength, not strength that is wrong or dangerous and wretched, as is that of athletes produced by compulsory feeding.
We must therefore reject different varieties, which engender various mischiefs, such as a depraved habit of body and disorders of the stomach, the taste being vitiated by an unhappy art — that of cookery, and the useless art of making pastry. For people dare to call by the name of food their dabbling in luxuries, which glides into mischievous pleasures. Antiphanes, the Delian physician, said that this variety of viands was the one cause of disease; there being people who dislike the truth, and through various absurd notions abjure moderation of diet, and put themselves to a world of trouble to procure dainties from beyond seas.
For my part, I am sorry for this disease, while they are not ashamed to sing the praises of their delicacies, giving themselves great trouble to get lampreys in the Straits of Sicily, the eels of the Mæander, and the kids found in Melos, and the mullets in Sciathus, and the mussels of Pelorus, the oysters of Abydos, not omitting the sprats found in Lipara, and the Mantinican turnip; and furthermore, the beetroot that grows among the Ascræans: they seek out the cockles of Methymna, the turbots of Attica, and the thrushes of Daphnis, and the reddish-brown dried figs, on account of which the ill-starred Persian marched into Greece with five hundred thousand men. Besides these, they purchase birds from Phasis, the Egyptian snipes, and the Median peafowl. Altering these by means of condiments, the gluttons gape for the sauces. Whatever earth and the depths of the sea, and the unmeasured space of the air produce, they cater for their gluttony. In their greed and solicitude, the gluttons seem absolutely to sweep the world with a drag-net to gratify their luxurious tastes. These gluttons, surrounded with the sound of hissing frying-pans, and wearing their whole life away at the pestle and mortar, cling to matter like fire. More than that, they emasculate plain food, namely bread, by straining off the nourishing part of the grain, so that the necessary part of food becomes matter of reproach to luxury. There is no limit to epicurism among men. For it has driven them to sweetmeats, and honey-cakes, and sugar-plums; inventing a multitude of desserts, hunting after all manner of dishes. A man like this seems to me to be all jaw, and nothing else. Desire not, says the Scripture, rich men’s dainties; Proverbs 23:3 for they belong to a false and base life. They partake of luxurious dishes, which a little after go to the dunghill. But we who seek the heavenly bread must rule the belly, which is beneath heaven, and much more the things which are agreeable to it, which God shall destroy, 1 Corinthians 6:13 says the apostle, justly execrating gluttonous desires. For meats are for the belly, 1 Corinthians 6:13 for on them depends this truly carnal and destructive life; whence some, speaking with unbridled tongue, dare to apply the name agape, to pitiful suppers, redolent of savour and sauces. Dishonouring the good and saving work of the Word, the consecrated agape, with pots and pouring of sauce; and by drink and delicacies and smoke desecrating that name, they are deceived in their idea, having expected that the promise of God might be bought with suppers. Gatherings for the sake of mirth, and such entertainments as are called by ourselves, we name rightly suppers, dinners, and banquets, after the example of the Lord. But such entertainments the Lord has not called agapæ. He says accordingly somewhere, When you are called to a wedding, recline not on the highest couch; but when you are called, fall into the lowest place; Luke 14:8, 10 and elsewhere, When you make a dinner or a supper; and again, But when you make an entertainment, call the poor, Luke 14:12-13 for whose sake chiefly a supper ought to be made. And further, A certain man made a great supper, and called many. Luke 14:16 But I perceive whence the specious appellation of suppers flowed: from the gullets and furious love for suppers — according to the comic poet. For, in truth, to many, many things are on account of the supper. For they have not yet learned that God has provided for His creature (man I mean) food and drink, for sustenance, not for pleasure; since the body derives no advantage from extravagance in viands. For, quite the contrary, those who use the most frugal fare are the strongest and the healthiest, and the noblest; as domestics are healthier and stronger than their masters, and husbandmen than the proprietors; and not only more robust, but wiser, as philosophers are wiser than rich men. For they have not buried the mind beneath food, nor deceived it with pleasures. But love (agape) is in truth celestial food, the banquet of reason. It bears all things, endures all things, hopes all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Luke 14:15 But the hardest of all cases is for charity, which fails not, to be cast from heaven above to the ground into the midst of sauces. And do you imagine that I am thinking of a supper that is to be done away with? For if, it is said, I bestow all my goods, and have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3 On this love alone depend the law and the Word; and if you shall love the Lord your God and your neighbour, this is the celestial festival in the heavens. But the earthly is called a supper, as has been shown from Scripture. For the supper is made for love, but the supper is not love (agape); only a proof of mutual and reciprocal kindly feeling. Let not, then, your good be evil spoken of; for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, says the apostle, in order that the meal spoken of may not be conceived as ephemeral, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Romans 14:16-17 He who eats of this meal, the best of all, shall possess the kingdom of God, fixing his regards here on the holy assembly of love, the heavenly Church. Love, then, is something pure and worthy of God, and its work is communication. And the care of discipline is love, as Wisdom says; and love is the keeping of the law. Wisdom 6:17-18 And these joys have an inspiration of love from the public nutriment, which accustoms to everlasting dainties. Love (agape), then, is not a supper. But let the entertainment depend on love. For it is said, Let the children whom You have loved, O Lord, learn that it is not the products of fruits that nourish man; but it is Your word which preserves those who believe in You. Wisdom 16:26 For the righteous shall not live by bread. Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4 But let our diet be light and digestible, and suitable for keeping awake, unmixed with diverse varieties. Nor is this a point which is beyond the sphere of discipline. For love is a good nurse for communication; having as its rich provision sufficiency, which, presiding over diet measured in due quantity, and treating the body in a healthful way, distributes something from its resources to those near us. But the diet which exceeds sufficiency injures a man, deteriorates his spirit, and renders his body prone to disease. Besides, those dainty tastes, which trouble themselves about rich dishes, drive to practices of ill-repute, daintiness, gluttony, greed, voracity, insatiability. Appropriate designations of such people as so indulge are flies, weasels, flatterers, gladiators, and the monstrous tribes of parasites — the one class surrendering reason, the other friendship, and the other life, for the gratification of the belly; crawling on their bellies, beasts in human shape after the image of their father, the voracious beast. People first called the abandoned ἀσώτους, and so appear to me to indicate their end, understanding them as those who are (ἀσώστους) unsaved, excluding the σ . For those that are absorbed in pots, and exquisitely prepared niceties of condiments, are they not plainly abject, earth-born, leading an ephemeral kind of life, as if they were not to live [hereafter]? Those the Holy Spirit, by Isaiah, denounces as wretched, depriving them tacitly of the name of love (agape), since their feasting was not in accordance with the word. But they made mirth, killing calves, and sacrificing sheep, saying, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. And that He reckons such luxury to be sin, is shown by what He adds, And your sin shall not be forgiven you till you die, Isaiah 22:13-14 — not conveying the idea that death, which deprives of sensation, is the forgiveness of sin, but meaning that death of salvation which is the recompense of sin. Take no pleasure in abominable delicacies, says Wisdom. Sirach 18:32 At this point, too, we have to advert to what are called things sacrificed to idols, in order to show how we are enjoined to abstain from them. Polluted and abominable those things seem to me, to the blood of which, fly
Souls from Erebus of inanimate corpses.
For I would not that you should have fellowship with demons, 1 Corinthians 10:20 says the apostle; since the food of those who are saved and those who perish is separate. We must therefore abstain from these viands not for fear (because there is no power in them); but on account of our conscience, which is holy, and out of detestation of the demons to which they are dedicated, are we to loathe them; and further, on account of the instability of those who regard many things in a way that makes them prone to fall, whose conscience, being weak, is defiled: for meat commends us not to God. 1 Corinthians 8:7-8 For it is not that which enters in that defiles a man, but that which goes out of his mouth. Matthew 15:11 The natural use of food is then indifferent. For neither if we eat are we the better, it is said, nor if we eat not are we the worse. 1 Corinthians 8:8 But it is inconsistent with reason, for those that have been made worthy to share divine and spiritual food, to partake of the tables of demons. Have we not power to eat and to drink, says the apostle, and to lead about wives? But by keeping pleasures under command we prevent lusts. See, then, that this power of yours never become a stumbling-block to the weak.
For it were not seemly that we, after the fashion of the rich man’s son in the Gospel, Luke 15:11 should, as prodigals, abuse the Father’s gifts; but we should use them, without undue attachment to them, as having command over ourselves. For we are enjoined to reign and rule over meats, not to be slaves to them. It is an admirable thing, therefore, to raise our eyes aloft to what is true, to depend on that divine food above, and to satiate ourselves with the exhaustless contemplation of that which truly exists, and so taste of the only sure and pure delight. For such is the agape, which, the food that comes from Christ shows that we ought to partake of. But totally irrational, futile, and not human is it for those that are of the earth, fattening themselves like cattle, to feed themselves up for death; looking downwards on the earth, and bending ever over tables; leading a life of gluttony; burying all the good of existence here in a life that by and by will end; courting voracity alone, in respect to which cooks are held in higher esteem than husbandmen. For we do not abolish social intercourse, but look with suspicion on the snares of custom, and regard them as a calamity. Wherefore daintiness is to be shunned, and we are to partake of few and necessary things. And if one of the unbelievers call us to a feast, and we determine to go (for it is a good thing not to mix with the dissolute), the apostle bids us eat what is set before us, asking no questions for conscience sake. 1 Corinthians 10:27 Similarly he has enjoined to purchase what is sold in the shambles, without curious questioning. 1 Corinthians 10:25
We are not, then, to abstain wholly from various kinds of food, but only are not to be taken up about them. We are to partake of what is set before us, as becomes a Christian, out of respect to him who has invited us, by a harmless and moderate participation in the social meeting; regarding the sumptuousness of what is put on the table as a matter of indifference, despising the dainties, as after a little destined to perish. Let him who eats, not despise him who eats not; and let him who eats not, not judge him who eats. Romans 14:3 And a little way on he explains the reason of the command, when he says, He that eats, eats to the Lord, and gives God thanks; and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks. Romans 14:6 So that the right food is thanksgiving. And he who gives thanks does not occupy his time in pleasures. And if we would persuade any of our fellow-guests to virtue, we are all the more on this account to abstain from those dainty dishes; and so exhibit ourselves as a bright pattern of virtue, such as we ourselves have in Christ. For if any of such meats make a brother to stumble, I shall not eat it as long as the world lasts, says he, that I may not make my brother stumble. 1 Corinthians 8:13 I gain the man by a little self-restraint. Have we not power to eat and to drink? 1 Corinthians 9:14 And we know— he says the truth— that an idol is nothing in the world; but we have only one true God, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus. But, he says, through your knowledge your weak brother perishes, for whom Christ died; and they that wound the conscience of the weak brethren sin against Christ. Thus the apostle, in his solicitude for us, discriminates in the case of entertainments, saying, that if any one called a brother be found a fornicator, or an adulterer, or an idolater, with such an one not to eat; 1 Corinthians 5:11 neither in discourse or food are we to join, looking with suspicion on the pollution thence proceeding, as on the tables of the demons. It is good, then, neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine, Romans 14:21 as both he and the Pythagoreans acknowledge. For this is rather characteristic of a beast; and the fumes arising from them being dense, darken the soul. If one partakes of them, he does not sin. Only let him partake temperately, not dependent on them, nor gaping after fine fare. For a voice will whisper to him, saying, Destroy not the work of God for the sake of food. Romans 14:20 For it is the mark of a silly mind to be amazed and stupefied at what is presented at vulgar banquets, after the rich fare which is in the Word; and much sillier to make one’s eyes the slaves of the delicacies, so that one’s greed is, so to speak, carried round by the servants. And how foolish for people to raise themselves on the couches, all but pitching their faces into the dishes, stretching out from the couch as from a nest, according to the common saying, that they may catch the wandering steam by breathing it in! And how senseless, to besmear their hands with the condiments, and to be constantly reaching to the sauce, cramming themselves immoderately and shamelessly, not like people tasting, but ravenously seizing! For you may see such people, more like swine or dogs for gluttony than men, in such a hurry to feed themselves full, that both jaws are stuffed out at once, the veins about the face raised, and besides, the perspiration running all over, as they are tightened with their insatiable greed, and panting with their excess; the food pushed with unsocial eagerness into their stomach, as if they were stowing away their victuals for provision for a journey, not for digestion. Excess, which in all things is an evil, is very highly reprehensible in the matter of food. Gluttony, called ὀψοφαγία, is nothing but excess in the use of relishes (ὄψον); and λαιμαργία is insanity with respect to the gullet; and γαστριμαργία is excess with respect to food — insanity in reference to the belly, as the name implies; for μάργος is a madman. The apostle, checking those that transgress in their conduct at entertainments, says: For every one takes beforehand in eating his own supper; and one is hungry, and another drunken. Have you not houses to eat and to drink in? Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have not? 1 Corinthians 11:21-22 And among those who have, they, who eat shamelessly and are insatiable, shame themselves. And both act badly; the one by paining those who have not, the other by exposing their own greed in the presence of those who have. Necessarily, therefore, against those who have cast off shame and unsparingly abuse meals, the insatiable to whom nothing is sufficient, the apostle, in continuation, again breaks forth in a voice of displeasure: So that, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. And if any one is hungry, let him eat at home, that you come not together to condemnation. 1 Corinthians 11:33-34
From all slavish habits and excess we must abstain, and touch what is set before us in a decorous way; keeping the hand and couch and chin free of stains; preserving the grace of the countenance undisturbed, and committing no indecorum in the act of swallowing; but stretching out the hand at intervals in an orderly manner. We must guard against speaking anything while eating: for the voice becomes disagreeable and inarticulate when it is confined by full jaws; and the tongue, pressed by the food and impeded in its natural energy, gives forth a compressed utterance. Nor is it suitable to eat and to drink simultaneously. For it is the very extreme of intemperance to confound the times whose uses are discordant. And whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31 aiming after true frugality, which the Lord also seems to me to have hinted at when He blessed the loaves and the cooked fishes with which He feasted the disciples, introducing a beautiful example of simple food. That fish then which, at the command of the Lord, Peter caught, points to digestible and God-given and moderate food. And by those who rise from the water to the bait of righteousness, He admonishes us to take away luxury and avarice, as the coin from the fish; in order that He might displace vainglory; and by giving the stater to the tax-gatherers, and rendering to Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s, might preserve to God the things which are God’s. Matthew 22:21 The stater is capable of other explanations not unknown to us, but the present is not a suitable occasion for their treatment. Let the mention we make for our present purpose suffice, as it is not unsuitable to the flowers of the Word; and we have often done this, drawing to the urgent point of the question the most beneficial fountain, in order to water those who have been planted by the Word. For if it is lawful for me to partake of all things, yet all things are not expedient. 1 Corinthians 10:23 For those that do all that is lawful, quickly fall into doing what is unlawful. And just as righteousness is not attained by avarice, nor temperance by excess; so neither is the regimen of a Christian formed by indulgence; for the table of truth is far from lascivious dainties. For though it was chiefly for men’s sake that all things were made, yet it is not good to use all things, nor at all times. For the occasion, and the time, and the mode, and the intention, materially turn the balance with reference to what is useful, in the view of one who is rightly instructed; and this is suitable, and has influence in putting a stop to a life of gluttony, which wealth is prone to choose, not that wealth which sees clearly, but that abundance which makes a man blind with reference to gluttony. No one is poor as regards necessaries, and a man is never overlooked. For there is one God who feeds the fowls and the fishes, and, in a word, the irrational creatures; and not one thing whatever is wanting to them, though they take no thought for their food. 1 Corinthians 10:23 And we are better than they, being their lords, and more closely allied to God, as being wiser; and we were made, not that we might eat and drink, but that we might devote ourselves to the knowledge of God. For the just man who eats is satisfied in his soul, but the belly of the wicked shall want, Proverbs 13:5 filled with the appetites of insatiable gluttony. Now lavish expense is adapted not for enjoyment alone, but also for social communication. Wherefore we must guard against those articles of food which persuade us to eat when we are not hungry, bewitching the appetite. For is there not within a temperate simplicity a wholesome variety of eatables? Bulbs, olives, certain herbs, milk, cheese, fruits, all kinds of cooked food without sauces; and if flesh is wanted, let roast rather than boiled be set down. Have you anything to eat here? Said the Lord Luke 24:41-44 to the disciples after the resurrection; and they, as taught by Him to practice frugality, gave Him a piece of broiled fish; and having eaten before them, says Luke, He spoke to them what He spoke. And in addition to these, it is not to be overlooked that those who feed according to the Word are not debarred from dainties in the shape of honey-combs. For of articles of food, those are the most suitable which are fit for immediate use without fire, since they are readiest; and second to these are those which are simplest, as we said before. But those who bend around inflammatory tables, nourishing their own diseases, are ruled by a most lickerish demon, whom I shall not blush to call the Belly-demon, and the worst and most abandoned of demons. He is therefore exactly like the one who is called the Ventriloquist-demon. It is far better to be happy than to have a demon dwelling with us. And happiness is found in the practice of virtue. Accordingly, the apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, and vegetables, without flesh. And John, who carried temperance to the extreme, ate locusts and wild honey. Peter abstained from swine; but a trance fell on him, as is written in the Acts of the Apostles, and he saw heaven opened, and a vessel let down on the earth by the four corners, and all the four-looted beasts and creeping things of the earth and the fowls of heaven in it; and there came a voice to him, Rise, and slay, and eat. And Peter said, Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten what is common or unclean. And the voice came again to him the second time, What God has cleansed, call not common. Acts 10:10-15 The use of them is accordingly indifferent to us. For not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, Matthew 15:11 but the vain opinion respecting uncleanness. For God, when He created man, said, All things shall be to you for meat. Genesis 9:2-3 And herbs, with love, are better than a calf with fraud. Proverbs 15:17 This well reminds us of what was said above, that herbs are not love, but that our meals are to be taken with love; and in these the medium state is good. In all things, indeed, this is the case, and not least in the preparation made for feasting, since the extremes are dangerous, and middle courses good. And to be in no want of necessaries is the medium. For the desires which are in accordance with nature are bounded by sufficiency. The Jews had frugality enjoined on them by the law in the most systematic manner. For the Instructor, by Moses, deprived them of the use of innumerable things, adding reasons — the spiritual ones hidden; the carnal ones apparent, to which indeed they have trusted; in the case of some animals, because they did not part the hoof, and others because they did not ruminate their food, and others because alone of aquatic animals they were devoid of scales; so that altogether but a few were left appropriate for their food. And of those that he permitted them to touch, he prohibited such as had died, or were offered to idols, or had been strangled; for to touch these was unlawful. For since it is impossible for those who use dainties to abstain from partaking of them, he appointed the opposite mode of life, till he should break down the propensity to indulgence arising from habit. Pleasure has often produced in men harm and pain; and full feeding begets in the soul uneasiness, and forgetfulness, and foolishness. And they say that the bodies of children, when shooting up to their height, are made to grow right by deficiency in nourishment. For then the spirit, which pervades the body in order to its growth, is not checked by abundance of food obstructing the freedom of its course. Whence that truth-seeking philosopher Plato, fanning the spark of the Hebrew philosophy when condemning a life of luxury, says: On my coming hither, the life which is here called happy, full of Italian and Syracusan tables, pleased me not by any means, [consisting as it did] in being filled twice a day, and never sleeping by night alone, and whatever other accessories attend the mode of life. For not one man under heaven, if brought up from his youth in such practices, will ever turn out a wise man, with however admirable a natural genius he may be endowed. For Plato was not unacquainted with David, who placed the sacred ark in his city in the midst of the tabernacle; and bidding all his subjects rejoice before the Lord, divided to the whole host of Israel, man and woman, to each a loaf of bread, and baked bread, and a cake from the frying-pan.
This was the sufficient sustenance of the Israelites. But that of the Gentiles was over-abundant. No one who uses it will ever study to become temperate, burying as he does his mind in his belly, very like the fish called ass, which, Aristotle says, alone of all creatures has its heart in its stomach. This fish Epicharmus the comic poet calls monster-paunch.
Such are the men who believe in their belly, whose God is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. To them the apostle predicted no good when he said, whose end is destruction. Philippians 3:19
Chapter 2. On Drinking
Use a little wine, says the apostle to Timothy, who drank water, for your stomach’s sake; 1 Timothy 5:23 most properly applying its aid as a strengthening tonic suitable to a sickly body enfeebled with watery humours; and specifying a little, lest the remedy should, on account of its quantity, unobserved, create the necessity of other treatment.
The natural, temperate, and necessary beverage, therefore, for the thirsty is water. This was the simple drink of sobriety, which, flowing from the smitten rock, was supplied by the Lord to the ancient Hebrews. Exodus 17; Numbers 20 It was most requisite that in their wanderings they should be temperate.
Afterwards the sacred vine produced the prophetic cluster. This was a sign to them, when trained from wandering to their rest; representing the great cluster the Word, bruised for us. For the blood of the grape — that is, the Word — desired to be mixed with water, as His blood is mingled with salvation.
And the blood of the Lord is twofold. For there is the blood of His flesh, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and the spiritual, that by which we are anointed. And to drink the blood of Jesus, is to become partaker of the Lord’s immortality; the Spirit being the energetic principle of the Word, as blood is of flesh.
Accordingly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. And the one, the mixture of wine and water, nourishes to faith; while the other, the Spirit, conducts to immortality.
And the mixture of both — of the water and of the Word — is called Eucharist, renowned and glorious grace; and they who by faith partake of it are sanctified both in body and soul. For the divine mixture, man, the Father’s will has mystically compounded by the Spirit and the Word. For, in truth, the spirit is joined to the soul, which is inspired by it; and the flesh, by reason of which the Word became flesh, to the Word.
I therefore admire those who have adopted an austere life, and who are fond of water, the medicine of temperance, and flee as far as possible from wine, shunning it as they would the danger of fire. It is proper, therefore, that boys and girls should keep as much as possible away from this medicine. For it is not right to pour into the burning season of life the hottest of all liquids — wine — adding, as it were, fire to fire. For hence wild impulses and burning lusts and fiery habits are kindled; and young men inflamed from within become prone to the indulgence of vicious propensities; so that signs of injury appear in their body, the members of lust coming to maturity sooner than they ought. The breasts and organs of generation, inflamed with wine, expand and swell in a shameful way, already exhibiting beforehand the image of fornication; and the body compels the wound of the soul to inflame, and shameless pulsations follow abundance, inciting the man of correct behaviour to transgression; and hence the voluptuousness of youth overpasses the bounds of modesty. And we must, as far as possible, try to quench the impulses of youth by removing the Bacchic fuel of the threatened danger; and by pouring the antidote to the inflammation, so keep down the burning soul, and keep in the swelling members, and allay the agitation of lust when it is already in commotion. And in the case of grown-up people, let those with whom it agrees sometimes partake of dinner, tasting bread only, and let them abstain wholly from drink; in order that their superfluous moisture may be absorbed and drunk up by the eating of dry food. For constant spitting and wiping off perspiration, and hastening to evacuations, is the sign of excess, from the immoderate use of liquids supplied in excessive quantity to the body. And if thirst come on, let the appetite be satisfied with a little water. For it is not proper that water should be supplied in too great profusion; in order that the food may not be drowned, but ground down in order to digestion; and this takes place when the victuals are collected into a mass, and only a small portion is evacuated.
And, besides, it suits divine studies not to be heavy with wine. For unmixed wine is far from compelling a man to be wise, much less temperate, according to the comic poet. But towards evening, about supper-time, wine may be used, when we are no longer engaged in more serious readings. Then also the air becomes colder than it is during the day; so that the failing natural warmth requires to be nourished by the introduction of heat. But even then it must only be a little wine that is to be used; for we must not go on to intemperate potations. Those who are already advanced in life may partake more cheerfully of the draught, to warm by the harmless medicine of the vine the chill of age, which the decay of time has produced. For old men’s passions are not, for the most part, stirred to such agitation as to drive them to the shipwreck of drunkenness. For being moored by reason and time, as by anchors, they stand with greater ease the storm of passions which rushes down from intemperance. They also may be permitted to indulge in pleasantry at feasts. But to them also let the limit of their potations be the point up to which they keep their reason unwavering, their memory active, and their body unmoved and unshaken by wine. People in such a state are called by those who are skilful in these matters, acrothorakes. It is well, therefore, to leave off betimes, for fear of tripping.
One Artorius, in his book On Long Life (for so I remember), thinks that drink should be taken only till the food be moistened, that we may attain to a longer life. It is fitting, then, that some apply wine by way of physic, for the sake of health alone, and others for purposes of relaxation and enjoyment. For first wine makes the man who has drunk it more benignant than before, more agreeable to his boon companions, kinder to his domestics, and more pleasant to his friends. But when intoxicated, he becomes violent instead. For wine being warm, and having sweet juices when duly mixed, dissolves the foul excrementitious matters by its warmth, and mixes the acrid and base humours with the agreeable scents.
It has therefore been well said, A joy of the soul and heart was wine created from the beginning, when drunk in moderate sufficiency. Sirach 31:27 And it is best to mix the wine with as much water as possible, and not to have recourse to it as to water, and so get enervated to drunkenness, and not pour it in as water from love of wine. For both are works of God; and so the mixture of both, of water and of wine, conduces together to health, because life consists of what is necessary and of what is useful. With water, then, which is the necessary of life, and to be used in abundance, there is also to be mixed the useful.
By an immoderate quantity of wine the tongue is impeded; the lips are relaxed; the eyes roll wildly, the sight, as it were, swimming through the quantity of moisture; and compelled to deceive, they think that everything is revolving round them, and cannot count distant objects as single. And, in truth, methinks I see two suns, said the Theban old man in his cups. For the sight, being disturbed by the heat of the wine, frequently fancies the substance of one object to be manifold. And there is no difference between moving the eye or the object seen. For both have the same effect on the sight, which, on account of the fluctuation, cannot accurately obtain a perception of the object. And the feet are carried from beneath the man as by a flood, and hiccuping and vomiting and maudlin nonsense follow; for every intoxicated man, according to the tragedy, —
Is conquered by anger, and empty of sense,
And likes to pour forth much silly speech;
And is wont to hear unwillingly,
What evil words he with his will has said.
And before tragedy, Wisdom cried, Much wine drunk abounds in irritation and all manner of mistakes. Sirach 31:29 Wherefore most people say that you ought to relax over your cups, and postpone serious business till morning. I however think that then especially ought reason to be introduced to mix in the feast, to act the part of director (pædagogue) to wine-drinking, lest conviviality imperceptibly degenerate to drunkenness. For as no sensible man ever thinks it requisite to shut his eyes before going to sleep, so neither can any one rightly wish reason to be absent from the festive board, or can well study to lull it asleep till business is begun. But the Word can never quit those who belong to Him, not even if we are asleep; for He ought to be invited even to our sleep. For perfect wisdom, which is knowledge of things divine and human, which comprehends all that relates to the oversight of the flock of men, becomes, in reference to life, art; and so, while we live, is constantly, with us, always accomplishing its own proper work, the product of which is a good life.
But the miserable wretches who expel temperance from conviviality, think excess in drinking to be the happiest life; and their life is nothing but revel, debauchery, baths, excess, urinals, idleness, drink. You may see some of them, half-drunk, staggering, with crowns round their necks like wine jars, vomiting drink on one another in the name of good fellowship; and others, full of the effects of their debauch, dirty, pale in the face, livid, and still above yesterday’s bout pouring another bout to last till next morning. It is well, my friends, it is well to make our acquaintance with this picture at the greatest possible distance from it, and to frame ourselves to what is better, dreading lest we also become a like spectacle and laughing-stock to others.
It has been appropriately said, As the furnace proverb the steel blade in the process of dipping, so wine proves the heart of the haughty. Sirach 31:26 A debauch is the immoderate use of wine, intoxication the disorder that results from such use; crapulousness (κραιπάλη) is the discomfort and nausea that follow a debauch; so called from the head shaking (κάρα πάλλειν).
Such a life as this (if life it must be called, which is spent in idleness, in agitation about voluptuous indulgences, and in the hallucinations of debauchery) the divine Wisdom looks on with contempt, and commands her children, Be not a wine-bibber, nor spend your money in the purchase of flesh; for every drunkard and fornicator shall come to beggary, and every sluggard shall be clothed in tatters and rags. Proverbs 23:20 For every one that is not awake to wisdom, but is steeped in wine, is a sluggard. And the drunkard, he says, shall be clothed in rags, and be ashamed of his drunkenness in the presence of onlookers. Proverbs 23:21 For the wounds of the sinner are the rents of the garment of the flesh, the holes made by lusts, through which the shame of the soul within is seen — namely sin, by reason of which it will not be easy to save the garment, that has been torn away all round, that has rotted away in many lusts, and has been rent asunder from salvation.
So he adds these most monitory words. Who has woes, who has clamour, who has contentions, who has disgusting babblings, who has unavailing remorse? Proverbs 23:29-30 You see, in all his raggedness, the lover of wine, who despises the Word Himself, and has abandoned and given himself to drunkenness. You see what threatening Scripture has pronounced against him. And to its threatening it adds again: Whose are red eyes? Those, is it not, who tarry long at their wine, and hunt out the places where drinking goes on? Here he shows the lover of drink to be already dead to the Word, by the mention of the bloodshot eyes — a mark which appears on corpses, announcing to him death in the Lord. For forgetfulness of the things which tend to true life turns the scale towards destruction. With reason therefore, the Instructor, in His solicitude for our salvation, forbids us, Drink not wine to drunkenness. Wherefore? You will ask. Because, says He, your mouth will then speak perverse things, and you lie down as in the heart of the sea, and as the steersman of a ship in the midst of huge billows. Hence, too, poetry comes to our help, and says:—
Let wine which has strength equal to fire come to men.
Then will it agitate them, as the north or south wind agitates the Libyan waves.
Wine wandering in speech shows all secrets.
Soul-deceiving wine is the ruin of those who drink it.
And so on.
You see the danger of shipwreck. The heart is drowned in much drink. The excess of drunkenness is compared to the danger of the sea, in which when the body has once been sunken like a ship, it descends to the depths of turpitude, overwhelmed in the mighty billows of wine; and the helmsman, the human mind, is tossed about on the surge of drunkenness, which swells aloft; and buried in the trough of the sea, is blinded by the darkness of the tempest, having drifted away from the haven of truth, till, dashing on the rocks beneath the sea, it perishes, driven by itself into voluptuous indulgences.
With reason, therefore, the apostle enjoins, Be not drunk with wine, in which there is much excess; by the term excess (ἀσωτία) intimating the inconsistence of drunkenness with salvation (τὸ ἄσωστον). For if He made water wine at the marriage, He did not give permission to get drunk. He gave life to the watery element of the meaning of the law, filling with His blood the doer of it who is of Adam, that is, the whole world; supplying piety with drink from the vine of truth, the mixture of the old law and of the new word, in order to the fulfilment of the predestined time. The Scripture, accordingly, has named wine the symbol of the sacred blood; but reproving the base tippling with the dregs of wine, it says: Intemperate is wine, and insolent is drunkenness. Proverbs 20:1 It is agreeable, therefore, to right reason, to drink on account of the cold of winter, till the numbness is dispelled from those who are subject to feel it; and on other occasions as a medicine for the intestines. For, as we are to use food to satisfy hunger, so also are we to use drink to satisfy thirst, taking the most careful precautions against a slip: for the introduction of wine is perilous. And thus shall our soul be pure, and dry, and luminous; and the soul itself is wisest and best when dry. And thus, too, is it fit for contemplation, and is not humid with the exhalations, that rise from wine, forming a mass like a cloud. We must not therefore trouble ourselves to procure Chian wine if it is absent, or Ariousian when it is not at hand. For thirst is a sensation of want, and craves means suitable for supplying the want, and not sumptuous liquor. Importations of wines from beyond seas are for an appetite enfeebled by excess, where the soul even before drunkenness is insane in its desires. For there are the fragrant Thasian wine, and the pleasant-breathing Lesbian, and a sweet Cretan wine, and sweet Syracusan wine, and Mendusian, an Egyptian wine, and the insular Naxian, the highly perfumed and flavoured, another wine of the land of Italy. These are many names. For the temperate drinker, one wine suffices, the product of the cultivation of the one God. For why should not the wine of their own country satisfy men’s desires, unless they were to import water also, like the foolish Persian kings? The Choaspes, a river of India so called, was that from which the best water for drinking — the Choaspian — was got. As wine, when taken, makes people lovers of it, so does water too. The Holy Spirit, uttering His voice by Amos, pronounces the rich to be wretched on account of their luxury: Amos 6:4, 6 Those that drink strained wine, and recline on an ivory couch, he says; and what else similar he adds by way of reproach.
Especial regard is to be paid to decency (as the myth represents Athene, whoever she was, out of regard to it, giving up the pleasure of the flute because of the unseemliness of the sight): so that we are to drink without contortions of the face, not greedily grasping the cup, nor before drinking making the eyes roll with unseemly motion; nor from intemperance are we to drain the cup at a draught; nor besprinkle the chin, nor splash the garments while gulping down all the liquor at once — our face all but filling the bowl, and drowned in it. For the gurgling occasioned by the drink rushing with violence, and by its being drawn in with a great deal of breath, as if it were being poured into an earthenware vessel, while the throat makes a noise through the rapidity of ingurgitation, is a shameful and unseemly spectacle of intemperance. In addition to this, eagerness in drinking is a practice injurious to the partaker. Do not haste to mischief, my friend. Your drink is not being taken from you. It is given you, and waits you. Be not eager to burst, by draining it down with gaping throat. Your thirst is satiated, even if you drink slower, observing decorum, by taking the beverage in small portions, in an orderly way. For that which intemperance greedily seizes, is not taken away by taking time.
Be not mighty, he says, at wine; for wine has overcome many. Sirach 31:25 The Scythians, the Celts, the Iberians, and the Thracians, all of them warlike races, are greatly addicted to intoxication, and think that it is an honourable, happy pursuit to engage in. But we, the people of peace, feasting for lawful enjoyment, not to wantonness, drink sober cups of friendship, that our friendships may be shown in a way truly appropriate to the name.
In what manner do you think the Lord drank when He became man for our sakes? As shamelessly as we? Was it not with decorum and propriety? Was it not deliberately? For rest assured, He Himself also partook of wine; for He, too, was man. And He blessed the wine, saying, Take, drink: this is my blood — the blood of the vine. He figuratively calls the Word shed for many, for the remission of sins— the holy stream of gladness. And that he who drinks ought to observe moderation, He clearly showed by what He taught at feasts. For He did not teach affected by wine. And that it was wine which was the thing blessed, He showed again, when He said to His disciples, I will not drink of the fruit of this vine, till I drink it with you in the kingdom of my Father. But that it was wine which was drunk by the Lord, He tells us again, when He spoke concerning Himself, reproaching the Jews for their hardness of heart: For the Son of man, He says, came, and they say, Behold a glutton and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans. Matthew 11:19 Let this be held fast by us against those that are called Encratites.
But women, making a profession, forsooth, of aiming at the graceful, that their lips may not be rent apart by stretching them on broad drinking cups, and so widening the mouth, drinking in an unseemly way out of alabastra quite too narrow: in the mouth, throw back their heads and bare their necks indecently, as I think; and distending the throat in swallowing, gulp down the liquor as if to make bare all they can to their boon companions; and drawing hiccups like men, or rather like slaves, revel in luxurious riot. For nothing disgraceful is proper for man, who is endowed with reason; much less for woman to whom it brings modesty even to reflect of what nature she is.
An intoxicated woman is great wrath, it is said, as if a drunken woman were the wrath of God. Why? Because she will not conceal her shame. Sirach 26:8 For a woman is quickly drawn down to licentiousness, if she only set her choice on pleasures. And we have not prohibited drinking from alabastra; but we forbid studying to drink from them alone, as arrogant; counselling women to use with indifference what comes in the way, and cutting up by the roots the dangerous appetites that are in them. Let the rush of air, then, which regurgitates so as to produce hiccup, be emitted silently.
But by no manner of means are women to be allotted to uncover and exhibit any part of their person, lest both fall, — the men by being excited to look, they by drawing on themselves the eyes of the men.
But always must we conduct ourselves as in the Lord’s presence, lest He say to us, as the apostle in indignation said to the Corinthians, When you come together, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.
To me, the star called by the mathematicians Acephalus (headless), which is numbered before the wandering star, his head resting on his breast, seems to be a type of the gluttonous, the voluptuous, and those that are prone to drunkenness. For in such the faculty of reasoning is not situated in the head, but among the intestinal appetites, enslaved to lust and anger. For just as Elpenor broke his neck through intoxication, so the brain, dizzied by drunkenness, falls down from above, with a great fall to the liver and the heart, that is, to voluptuousness and anger: as the sons of the poets say Hephæstus was hurled by Zeus from heaven to earth. The trouble of sleeplessness, and bile, and cholic, are with an insatiable man, it is said. Sirach 31:20
Wherefore also Noah’s intoxication was recorded in writing, that, with the clear and written description of his transgression before us, we might guard with all our might against drunkenness. For which cause they who covered the shame of his drunkenness are blessed by the Lord. The Scripture accordingly, giving a most comprehensive compend, has expressed all in one word: To an instructed man sufficiency is wine, and he will rest in his bed.
Chapter 3. On Costly Vessels
And so the use of cups made of silver and gold, and of others inlaid with precious stones, is out of place, being only a deception of the vision. For if you pour any warm liquid into them, the vessels becoming hot, to touch them is painful. On the other hand, if you pour in what is cold, the material changes its quality, injuring the mixture, and the rich potion is hurtful. Away, then, with Thericleian cups and Antigonides, and Canthari, and goblets, and Lepastæ, and the endless shapes of drinking vessels, and wine-coolers, and wine-pourers also. For, on the whole, gold and silver, both publicly and privately, are an invidious possession when they exceed what is necessary, seldom to be acquired, difficult to keep, and not adapted for use. The elaborate vanity, too, of vessels in glass chased, more apt to break on account of the art, teaching us to fear while we drink, is to be banished from our well-ordered constitution. And silver couches, and pans and vinegar-saucers, and trenchers and bowls; and besides these, vessels of silver and gold, some for serving food, and others for other uses which I am ashamed to name, of easily cleft cedar and thyine wood, and ebony, and tripods fashioned of ivory, and couches with silver feet and inlaid with ivory, and folding-doors of beds studded with gold and variegated with tortoise-shell, and bed-clothes of purple and other colors difficult to produce, proofs of tasteless luxury, cunning devices of envy and effeminacy — are all to be relinquished, as having nothing whatever worth our pains. For the time is short, as says the apostle. This then remains that we do not make a ridiculous figure, as some are seen in the public spectacles outwardly anointed strikingly for imposing effect, but wretched within. Explaining this more clearly, he adds, It remains that they that have wives be as though they had none, and they that buy as though they possessed not. 1 Corinthians 7:29-30 And if he speaks thus of marriage, in reference to which God says, Multiply, how do you not think that senseless display is by the Lord’s authority to be banished? Wherefore also the Lord says, Sell what you have, and give to the poor; and come, follow me. Matthew 19:21
Follow God, stripped of arrogance, stripped of fading display, possessed of that which is yours, which is good, what alone cannot be taken away — faith towards God, confession towards Him who suffered, beneficence towards men, which is the most precious of possessions. For my part, I approve of Plato, who plainly lays it down as a law, that a man is not to labour for wealth of gold or silver, nor to possess a useless vessel which is not for some necessary purpose, and moderate; so that the same thing may serve for many purposes, and the possession of a variety of things may be done away with. Excellently, therefore, the Divine Scripture, addressing boasters and lovers of their own selves, says, Where are the rulers of the nations, and the lords of the wild beasts of the earth, who sport among the birds of heaven, who treasured up silver and gold, in whom men trusted, and there was no end of their substance, who fashioned silver and gold, and were full of care? There is no finding of their works. They have vanished, and gone down to Hades. Such is the reward of display. For though such of us as cultivate the soil need a mattock and plough, none of us will make a pickaxe of silver or a sickle of gold, but we employ the material which is serviceable for agriculture, not what is costly. What prevents those who are capable of considering what is similar from entertaining the same sentiments with respect to household utensils, of which let use, not expense, be the measure? For tell me, does the table-knife not cut unless it be studded with silver, and have its handle made of ivory? Or must we forge Indian steel in order to divide meat, as when we call for a weapon for the fight? What if the basin be of earthenware? will it not receive the dirt of the hands? Or the footpan the dirt of the foot? Will the table that is fashioned with ivory feet be indignant at bearing a three-halfpenny loaf? Will the lamp not dispense light because it is the work of the potter, not of the goldsmith? I affirm that truckle-beds afford no worse repose than the ivory couch; and the goatskin coverlet being amply sufficient to spread on the bed, there is no need of purple or scarlet coverings. Yet to condemn, notwithstanding, frugality, through the stupidity of luxury, the author of mischief, what a prodigious error, what senseless conceit! See. The Lord ate from a common bowl, and made the disciples recline on the grass on the ground, and washed their feet, girded with a linen towel — He, the lowly-minded God, and Lord of the universe. He did not bring down a silver foot-bath from heaven. He asked to drink of the Samaritan woman, who drew the water from the well in an earthenware vessel, not seeking regal gold, but teaching us how to quench thirst easily. For He made use, not extravagance His aim. And He ate and drank at feasts, not digging metals from the earth, nor using vessels of gold and silver, that is, vessels exhaling the odour of rust — such fumes as the rust of smoking metal gives off.
For in fine, in food, and clothes, and vessels, and everything else belonging to the house, I say comprehensively, that one must follow the institutions of the Christian man, as is serviceable and suitable to one’s person, age, pursuits, time of life. For it becomes those that are servants of one God, that their possessions and furniture should exhibit the tokens of one beautiful life; and that each individually should be seen in faith, which shows no difference, practising all other things which are conformable to this uniform mode of life, and harmonious with this one scheme.
What we acquire without difficulty, and use with ease, we praise, keep easily, and communicate freely. The things which are useful are preferable, and consequently cheap things are better than dear. In fine, wealth, when not properly governed, is a stronghold of evil, about which many casting their eyes, they will never reach the kingdom of heaven, sick for the things of the world, and living proudly through luxury. But those who are in earnest about salvation must settle this beforehand in their mind, that all that we possess is given to us for use, and use for sufficiency, which one may attain to by a few things. For silly are they who, from greed, take delight in what they have hoarded up. He that gathers wages, it is said, gathers into a bag with holes. Haggai 1:6 Such is he who gathers grain and shuts it up; and he who gives to no one, becomes poorer.
It is a farce, and a thing to make one laugh outright, for men to bring in silver urinals and crystal vases de nuit , as they usher in their counsellors, and for silly rich women to get gold receptacles for excrements made; so that being rich, they cannot even ease themselves except in superb way. I would that in their whole life they deemed gold fit for dung.
But now love of money is found to be the stronghold of evil, which the apostle says is the root of all evils, which, while some coveted, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10
But the best riches is poverty of desires; and the true magnanimity is not to be proud of wealth, but to despise it. Boasting about one’s plate is utterly base. For it is plainly wrong to care much about what any one who likes may buy from the market. But wisdom is not bought with coin of earth, nor is it sold in the market-place, but in heaven. And it is sold for true coin, the immortal Word, the regal gold.
Chapter 4. How to Conduct Ourselves at Feasts
Let revelry keep away from our rational entertainments, and foolish vigils, too, that revel in intemperance. For revelry is an inebriating pipe, the chain of an amatory bridge, that is, of sorrow. And let love, and intoxication, and senseless passions, be removed from our choir. Burlesque singing is the boon companion of drunkenness. A night spent over drink invites drunkenness, rouses lust, and is audacious in deeds of shame. For if people occupy their time with pipes, and psalteries, and choirs, and dances, and Egyptian clapping of hands, and such disorderly frivolities, they become quite immodest and intractable, beat on cymbals and drums, and make a noise on instruments of delusion; for plainly such a banquet, as seems to me, is a theatre of drunkenness. For the apostle decrees that, putting off the works of darkness, we should put on the armour of light, walking honestly as in the day, not spending our time in rioting and drunkenness, in chambering and wantonness. Romans 13:12-13 Let the pipe be resigned to the shepherds, and the flute to the superstitious who are engrossed in idolatry. For, in truth, such instruments are to be banished from the temperate banquet, being more suitable to beasts than men, and the more irrational portion of mankind. For we have heard of stags being charmed by the pipe, and seduced by music into the toils, when hunted by the huntsmen. And when mares are being covered, a tune is played on the flute — a nuptial song, as it were. And every improper sight and sound, to speak in a word, and every shameful sensation of licentiousnes — which, in truth, is privation of sensation — must by all means be excluded; and we must be on our guard against whatever pleasure titillates eye and ear, and effeminates. For the various spells of the broken strains and plaintive numbers of the Carian muse corrupt men’s morals, drawing to perturbation of mind, by the licentious and mischievous art of music.
The Spirit, distinguishing from such revelry the divine service, sings, Praise Him with the sound of trumpet; for with sound of trumpet He shall raise the dead. Praise Him on the psaltery; for the tongue is the psaltery of the Lord. And praise Him on the lyre. By the lyre is meant the mouth struck by the Spirit, as it were by a plectrum. Praise with the timbrel and the dance, refers to the Church meditating on the resurrection of the dead in the resounding skin. Praise Him on the chords and organ. Our body He calls an organ, and its nerves are the strings, by which it has received harmonious tension, and when struck by the Spirit, it gives forth human voices. Praise Him on the clashing cymbals. He calls the tongue the cymbal of the mouth, which resounds with the pulsation of the lips. Therefore He cried to humanity, Let every breath praise the Lord, because He cares for every breathing thing which He has made. For man is truly a pacific instrument; while other instruments, if you investigate, you will find to be warlike, inflaming to lusts, or kindling up amours, or rousing wrath.
In their wars, therefore, the Etruscans use the trumpet, the Arcadians the pipe, the Sicilians the pectides, the Cretans the lyre, the Lacedæmonians the flute, the Thracians the horn, the Egyptians the drum, and the Arabians the cymbal. The one instrument of peace, the Word alone by which we honour God, is what we employ. We no longer employ the ancient psaltery, and trumpet, and timbrel, and flute, which those expert in war and contemners of the fear of God were wont to make use of also in the choruses at their festive assemblies; that by such strains they might raise their dejected minds. But let our genial feeling in drinking be twofold, in accordance with the law. For if you shall love the Lord your God, and then your neighbour, let its first manifestation be towards God in thanksgiving and psalmody, and the second toward our neighbour in decorous fellowship. For says the apostle, Let the Word of the Lord dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16 And this Word suits and conforms Himself to seasons, to persons, to places.
In the present instance He is a with us. For the apostle adds again, Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to God. And again, Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and His Father. This is our thankful revelry. And even if you wish to sing and play to the harp or lyre, there is no blame. You shall imitate the righteous Hebrew king in his thanksgiving to God. Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous; praise is comely to the upright, says the prophecy. Confess to the Lord on the harp; play to Him on the psaltery of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song. And does not the ten-stringed psaltery indicate the Word Jesus, who is manifested by the element of the decad? And as it is befitting, before partaking of food, that we should bless the Creator of all; so also in drinking it is suitable to praise Him on partaking of His creatures. For the psalm is a melodious and sober blessing. The apostle calls the psalm a spiritual song. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16
Finally, before partaking of sleep, it is a sacred duty to give thanks to God, having enjoyed His grace and love, and so go straight to sleep. And confess to Him in songs of the lips, he says, because in His command all His good pleasure is done, and there is no deficiency in His salvation.
Further, among the ancient Greeks, in their banquets over the brimming cups, a song was sung called a skolion, after the manner of the Hebrew psalms, all together raising the pæan with the voice, and sometimes also taking turns in the song while they drank healths round; while those that were more musical than the rest sang to the lyre. But let amatory songs be banished far away, and let our songs be hymns to God. Let them praise, it is said, His name in the dance, and let them play to Him on the timbrel and psaltery. And what is the choir which plays? The Spirit will show you: Let His praise be in the congregation (church) of the saints; let them be joyful in their King. And again he adds, The Lord will take pleasure in His people. Psalm 149:4 For temperate harmonies are to be admitted; but we are to banish as far as possible from our robust mind those liquid harmonies, which, through pernicious arts in the modulations of tones, train to effeminacy and scurrility. But grave and modest strains say farewell to the turbulence of drunkenness. Chromatic harmonies are therefore to be abandoned to immodest revels, and to florid and meretricious music.
Chapter 5. On Laughter
People who are imitators of ludicrous sensations, or rather of such as deserve derision, are to be driven from our polity.
For since all forms of speech flow from mind and manners, ludicrous expressions could not be uttered, did they not proceed from ludicrous practices. For the saying, It is not a good tree which produces corrupt fruit, nor a corrupt tree which produces good fruit, Matthew 7:18; Luke 6:43 is to be applied in this case. For speech is the fruit of the mind. If, then, wags are to be ejected from our society, we ourselves must by no manner of means be allowed to stir up laughter. For it were absurd to be found imitators of things of which we are prohibited to be listeners; and still more absurd for a man to set about making himself a laughing-stock, that is, the butt of insult and derision. For if we could not endure to make a ridiculous figure, such as we see some do in processions, how could we with any propriety bear to have the inner man made a ridiculous figure of, and that to one’s face? Wherefore we ought never of our own accord to assume a ludicrous character. And how, then, can we devote ourselves to being and appearing ridiculous in our conversation, thereby travestying speech, which is the most precious of all human endowments? It is therefore disgraceful to set one’s self to do this; since the conversation of wags of this description is not fit for our ears, inasmuch as by the very expressions used it familiarizes us with shameful actions.
Pleasantry is allowable, not waggery. Besides, even laughter must be kept in check; for when given vent to in the right manner it indicates orderliness, but when it issues differently it shows a want of restraint.
For, in a word, whatever things are natural to men we must not eradicate from them, but rather impose on them limits and suitable times. For man is not to laugh on all occasions because he is a laughing animal, any more than the horse neighs on all occasions because he is a neighing animal. But as rational beings, we are to regulate ourselves suitably, harmoniously relaxing the austerity and over-tension of our serious pursuits, not inharmoniously breaking them up altogether.
For the seemly relaxation of the countenance in a harmonious manner — as of a musical instrument — is called a smile. So also is laughter on the face of well-regulated men termed. But the discordant relaxation of countenance in the case of women is called a giggle, and is meretricious laughter; in the case of men, a guffaw, and is savage and insulting laughter. A fool raises his voice in laughter, Sirach 21:20 says the Scripture; but a clever man smiles almost imperceptibly. The clever man in this case he calls wise, inasmuch as he is differently affected from the fool. But, on the other hand, one needs not be gloomy, only grave. For I certainly prefer a man to smile who has a stern countenance than the reverse; for so his laughter will be less apt to become the object of ridicule.
Smiling even requires to be made the subject of discipline. If it is at what is disgraceful, we ought to blush rather than smile, lest we seem to take pleasure in it by sympathy; if at what is painful, it is fitting to look sad rather than to seem pleased. For to do the former is a sign of rational human thought; the other infers suspicion of cruelty.
We are not to laugh perpetually, for that is going beyond bounds; nor in the presence of elderly persons, or others worthy of respect, unless they indulge in pleasantry for our amusement. Nor are we to laugh before all and sundry, nor in every place, nor to every one, nor about everything. For to children and women especially laughter is the cause of slipping into scandal. And even to appear stern serves to keep those about us at their distance. For gravity can ward off the approaches of licentiousness by a mere look. All senseless people, to speak in a word, wine
Commands both to laugh luxuriously and to dance,
changing effeminate manners to softness. We must consider, too, how consequently freedom of speech leads impropriety on to filthy speaking.
And he uttered a word which had been better unsaid.
Especially, therefore, in liquor crafty men’s characters are wont to be seen through, stripped as they are of their mask through the caitiff licence of intoxication, through which reason, weighed down in the soul itself by drunkenness, is lulled to sleep, and unruly passions are roused, which overmaster the feebleness of the mind.
Chapter 6. On Filthy Speaking
From filthy speaking we ourselves must entirely abstain, and stop the mouths of those who practice it by stern looks and averting the face, and by what we call making a mock of one: often also by a harsher mode of speech. For what proceeds out of the mouth, He says, defiles a man, Matthew 15:18 — shows him to be unclean, and heathenish, and untrained, and licentious, and not select, and proper, and honourable, and temperate.
And as a similar rule holds with regard to hearing and seeing in the case of what is obscene, the divine Instructor, following the same course with both, arrays those children who are engaged in the struggle in words of modesty, as ear-guards, so that the pulsation of fornication may not penetrate to the bruising of the soul; and He directs the eyes to the sight of what is honourable, saying that it is better to make a slip with the feet than with the eyes. This filthy speaking the apostle beats off, saying, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good. Ephesians 4:29 And again, As becomes saints, let not filthiness be named among you, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which things are not seemly, but rather giving of thanks. Ephesians 5:3-4 And if he that calls his brother a fool be in danger of the judgment, what shall we pronounce regarding him who speaks what is foolish? Is it not written respecting such: Whosoever shall speak an idle word, shall give an account to the Lord in the day of judgment? And again, By your speech you shall be justified, He says, and by your speech you shall be condemned. Matthew 12:37 What, then, are the salutary ear-guards, and what the regulations for slippery eyes? Conversations with the righteous, preoccupying and forearming the ears against those that would lead away from the truth.
Evil communications corrupt good manners,
says Poetry. More nobly the apostle says, Be haters of the evil; cleave to the good. Romans 12:9 For he who associates with the saints shall be sanctified. From shameful things addressed to the ears, and words and sights, we must entirely abstain. And much more must we keep pure from shameful deeds: on the one hand, from exhibiting and exposing parts of the body which we ought not; and on the other, from beholding what is forbidden. For the modest son could not bear to look on the shameful exposure of the righteous man; and modesty covered what intoxication exposed — the spectacle of the transgression of ignorance. Genesis 9:23 No less ought we to keep pure from calumnious reports, to which the ears of those who have believed in Christ ought to be inaccessible.
It is on this account, as appears to me, that the Instructor does not permit us to give utterance to anything unseemly, fortifying us at an early stage against licentiousness. For He is admirable always at cutting out the roots of sins, such as, You shall not commit adultery, by You shall not lust. For adultery is the fruit of lust, which is the evil root. And so likewise also in this instance the Instructor censures licence in names, and thus cuts off the licentious intercourse of excess. For licence in names produces the desire of being indecorous in conduct; and the observance of modesty in names is a training in resistance to lasciviousness. We have shown in a more exhaustive treatise, that neither in the names nor in the members to which appellations not in common use are applied, is there the designation of what is really obscene.
For neither are knee and leg, and such other members, nor are the names applied to them, and the activity put forth by them, obscene. And even the pudenda are to be regarded as objects suggestive of modesty, not shame. It is their unlawful activity that is shameful, and deserving ignominy, and reproach, and punishment. For the only thing that is in reality shameful is wickedness, and what is done through it. In accordance with these remarks, conversation about deeds of wickedness is appropriately termed filthy [shameful] speaking, as talk about adultery and pederasty and the like. Frivolous prating, too, is to be put to silence. For, it is said, in much speaking you shall not escape sin. Proverbs 10:19 Sins of the tongue, therefore, shall be punished. There is he who is silent, and is found wise; and there is he that is hated for much speech. Sirach 20:5 But still more, the prater makes himself the object of disgust. For he that multiplies speech abominates his own soul. Sirach 20:8
Chapter 7. Directions for Those Who Live Together
Let us keep away from us jibing, the originator of insult, from which strifes and contentions and enmities burst forth. Insult, we have said, is the servant of drunkenness. A man is judged, not from his deeds alone, but from his words. In a banquet, it is said, reprove not your neighbour, nor say to him a word of reproach. Sirach 31:31 For if we are enjoined especially to associate with saints, it is a sin to jibe at a saint: For from the mouth of the foolish, says the Scripture, is a staff of insult, Proverbs 14:3 — meaning by staff the prop of insult, on which insult leans and rests. Whence I admire the apostle, who, in reference to this, exhorts us not to utter scurrilous nor unsuitable words. Ephesians 5:4 For if the assemblies at festivals take place on account of affection, and the end of a banquet is friendliness towards those who meet, and meat and drink accompany affection, how should not conversation be conducted in a rational manner, and puzzling people with questions be avoided from affection? For if we meet together for the purpose of increasing our good-will to each other, why should we stir up enmity by jibing? It is better to be silent than to contradict, and thereby add sin to ignorance. Blessed, in truth, is the man who has not made a slip with his mouth, and has not been pierced by the pain of sin; Sirach 14:1 or has repented of what he has said amiss, or has spoken so as to wound no one. On the whole, let young men and young women altogether keep away from such festivals, that they may not make a slip in respect to what is unsuitable. For things to which their ears are unaccustomed, and unseemly sights, inflame the mind, while faith within them is still wavering; and the instability of their age conspires to make them easily carried away by lust. Sometimes also they are the cause of others stumbling, by displaying the dangerous charms of their time of life. For Wisdom appears to enjoin well: Sit not at all with a married woman, and recline not on the elbow with her; that is, do not sup nor eat with her frequently. Wherefore he adds, And do not join company with her in wine, lest your heart incline to her, and by your blood slide to ruin. Sirach 9:9 For the licence of intoxication is dangerous, and prone to deflower. And he names a married woman, because the danger is greater to him who attempts to break the connubial bond.
But if any necessity arises, commanding the presence of married women, let them be well clothed — without by raiment, within by modesty. But as for such as are unmarried, it is the extremest scandal for them to be present at a banquet of men, especially men under the influence of wine. And let the men, fixing their eyes on the couch, and leaning without moving on their elbows, be present with their ears alone; and if they sit, let them not have their feet crossed, nor place one thigh on another, nor apply the hand to the chin. For it is vulgar not to bear one’s self without support, and consequently a fault in a young man. And perpetually moving and changing one’s position is a sign of frivolousness. It is the part of a temperate man also, in eating and drinking, to take a small portion, and deliberately, not eagerly, both at the beginning and during the courses, and to leave off betimes, and so show his indifference. Eat, it is said, like a man what is set before you. Be the first to stop for the sake of regimen; and, if seated in the midst of several people, do not stretch out your hand before them. Sirach 31:16-18 You must never rush forward under the influence of gluttony; nor must you, though desirous, reach out your hand till some time, inasmuch as by greed one shows an uncontrolled appetite. Nor are you, in the midst of the repast, to exhibit yourselves hugging your food like wild beasts; nor helping yourselves to too much sauce, for man is not by nature a sauce-consumer, but a bread-eater. A temperate man, too, must rise before the general company, and retire quietly from the banquet. For at the time for rising, it is said, be not the last; haste home. Sirach 32:11 The twelve, having called together the multitude of the disciples, said, It is not meet for us to leave the word of God and serve tables. Acts 6:2 If they avoided this, much more did they shun gluttony. And the apostles themselves, writing to the brethren at Antioch, and in Syria and Cilicia, said: It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no other burden than these necessary things, to abstain from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication, from which, if you keep yourselves, you shall do well. But we must guard against drunkenness as against hemlock; for both drag down to death. We must also check excessive laughter and immoderate tears. For often people under the influence of wine, after laughing immoderately, then are, I know not how, by some impulse of intoxication moved to tears; for both effiminacy and violence are discordant with the word. And elderly people, looking on the young as children, may, though but very rarely, be playful with them, joking with them to train them in good behaviour. For example, before a bashful and silent youth, one might by way of pleasantry speak thus: This son of mine (I mean one who is silent) is perpetually talking. For a joke such as this enhances the youth’s modesty, by showing the good qualities that belong to him playfully, by censure of the bad quantities, which do not. For this device is instructive, confirming as it does what is present by what is not present. Such, certainly, is the intention of him who says that a water-drinker and a sober man gets intoxicated and drunk. But if there are those who like to jest at people, we must be silent, and dispense with superfluous words like full cups. For such sport is dangerous. The mouth of the impetuous approaches to contrition. Proverbs 10:14 You shall not receive a foolish report, nor shall you agree with an unjust person to be an unjust witness, Proverbs 24:28; Exodus 23:1 neither in calumnies nor in injurious speeches, much less evil practices. I also should think it right to impose a limit on the speech of rightly regulated persons, who are impelled to speak to one who maintains a conversation with them. For silence is the excellence of women, and the safe prize of the young; but good speech is characteristic of experienced, mature age. Speak, old man, at a banquet, for it is becoming to you. But speak without embarrassment, and with accuracy of knowledge. Youth, Wisdom also commands you. Speak, if you must, with hesitation, on being twice asked; sum up your discourse in a few words. But let both speakers regulate their discourse according to just proportion. For loudness of utterance is most insane; while an inaudible utterance is characteristic of a senseless man, for people will not hear: the one is the mark of pusillanimity, the other of arrogance. Let contentiousness in words, for the sake of a useless triumph, be banished; for our aim is to be free from perturbation. Such is the meaning of the phrase, Peace to you. Answer not a word before you hear. An enervated voice is the sign of effeminacy. But modulation in the voice is characteristic of a wise man, who keeps his utterance from loudness, from drawling, from rapidity, from prolixity. For we ought not to speak long or much, nor ought we to speak frivolously. Nor must we converse rapidly and rashly. For the voice itself, so to speak, ought to receive its just dues; and those who are vociferous and clamorous ought to be silenced. For this reason, the wise Ulysses chastised Thersites with stripes:—
Only Thersites, with unmeasured words,
Of which he had good store, to rate the chiefs,
Not over-seemly, but wherewith he thought
To move the crowd to laughter, brawled aloud.
For dreadful in his destruction is a loquacious man. Sirach 9:18 And it is with triflers as with old shoes: all the rest is worn away by evil; the tongue only is left for destruction. Wherefore Wisdom gives these most useful exhortations: Do not talk trifles in the multitude of the elders. Further, eradicating frivolousness, beginning with God, it lays down the law for our regulation somewhat thus: Do not repeat your words in your prayer. Sirach 9:15 Chirruping and whistling, and sounds made through the fingers, by which domestics are called, being irrational signs, are to be given up by rational men. Frequent spitting, too, and violent clearing of the throat, and wiping one’s nose at an entertainment, are to be shunned. For respect is assuredly to be had to the guests, lest they turn in disgust from such filthiness, which argues want of restraint. For we are not to copy oxen and asses, whose manger and dunghill are together. For many wipe their noses and spit even while supping.
If any one is attacked with sneezing, just as in the case of hiccup, he must not startle those near him with the explosion, and so give proof of his bad breeding; but the hiccup is to be quietly transmitted with the expiration of the breath, the mouth being composed becomingly, and not gaping and yawning like the tragic masks. So the disturbance of hiccup may be avoided by making the respirations gently; for thus the threatening symptoms of the ball of wind will be dissipated in the most seemly way, by managing its egress so as also to conceal anything which the air forcibly expelled may bring up with it. To wish to add to the noises, instead of diminishing them, is the sign of arrogance and disorderliness. Those, too, who scrape their teeth, bleeding the wounds, are disagreeable to themselves and detestable to their neighbours. Scratching the ears and the irritation of sneezing are swinish itchings, and attend unbridled fornication. Both shameful sights and shameful conversation about them are to be shunned. Let the look be steady, and the turning and movement of the neck, and the motions of the hands in conversation, be decorous. In a word, the Christian is characterized by composure, tranquillity, calmness, and peace.
Chapter 8. On the Use of Ointments and Crowns
The use of crowns and ointments is not necessary for us; for it impels to pleasures and indulgences, especially on the approach of night. I know that the woman brought to the sacred supper an alabaster box of ointment, and anointed the feet of the Lord, and refreshed Him; and I know that the ancient kings of the Hebrews were crowned with gold and precious stones. But the woman not having yet received the Word (for she was still a sinner), honoured the Lord with what she thought the most precious thing in her possession — the ointment; and with the ornament of her person, with her hair, she wiped off the superfluous ointment, while she expended on the Lord tears of repentance: wherefore her sins are forgiven. Luke 7:47
This may be a symbol of the Lord’s teaching, and of His suffering. For the feet anointed with fragrant ointment mean divine instruction travelling with renown to the ends of the earth. For their sound has gone forth to the ends of the earth. And if I seem not to insist too much, the feet of the Lord which were anointed are the apostles, having, according to prophecy, received the fragrant unction of the Holy Ghost. Those, therefore, who travelled over the world and preached the Gospel, are figuratively called the feet of the Lord, of whom also the Holy Spirit foretells in the psalm, Let us adore at the place where His feet stood, that is, where the apostles, His feet, arrived; since, preached by them, He came to the ends of the earth. And tears are repentance; and the loosened hair proclaimed deliverance from the love of finery, and the affliction in patience which, on account of the Lord, attends preaching, the old vainglory being done away with by reason of the new faith.
Besides, it shows the Lord’s passion, if you understand it mystically thus: the oil (ἔλαιον) is the Lord Himself, from whom comes the mercy (ἔλεος) which reaches us. But the ointment, which is adulterated oil, is the traitor Judas, by whom the Lord was anointed on the feet, being released from His sojourn in the world. For the dead are anointed. And the tears are we repentant sinners, who have believed in Him, and to whom He has forgiven our sins. And the dishevelled hair is mourning Jerusalem, the deserted, for whom the prophetic lamentations were uttered. The Lord Himself shall teach us that Judas the deceitful is meant: He that dips with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me. Matthew 26:23 You see the treacherous , and this same Judas betrayed the Master with a kiss. For he was a hypocrite, giving a treacherous kiss, in imitation of another hypocrite of old. And He reproves that people respecting whom it was said, This people honour Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. Isaiah 29:13 It is not improbable, therefore, that by the oil He means that disciple to whom was shown mercy, and by the tainted and poisoned oil the traitor.
This was, then, what the anointed feet prophesied — the treason of Judas, when the Lord went to His passion. And the Saviour Himself washing the feet of the disciples, John 13:5 and dispatching them to do good deeds, pointed out their pilgrimage for the benefit of the nations, making them beforehand fair and pure by His power. Then the ointment breathed on them its fragrance, and the work of sweet savour reaching to all was proclaimed; for the passion of the Lord has filled us with sweet fragrance, and the Hebrews with guilt. This the apostle most clearly showed, when he said, thanks be to God, who always makes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place. For we are to God a sweet savour of the Lord, in them that are saved, and them that are lost; to one a savour of death unto death, to the other a savour of life unto life. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 And the kings of the Jews using gold and precious stones and a variegated crown, the anointed ones wearing Christ symbolically on the head, were unconsciously adorned with the head of the Lord. The precious stone, or pearl, or emerald, points out the Word Himself. The gold, again, is the incorruptible Word, who admits not the poison of corruption. The Magi, accordingly, brought to Him on His birth, gold, the symbol of royalty. And this crown, after the image of the Lord, fades not as a flower.
I know, too, the words of Aristippus the Cyrenian. Aristippus was a luxurious man. He asked an answer to a sophistical proposition in the following terms: A horse anointed with ointment is not injured in his excellence as a horse, nor is a dog which has been anointed, in his excellence as a dog; no more is a man, he added, and so finished. But the dog and horse take no account of the ointment, while in the case of those whose perceptions are more rational, applying girlish scents to their persons, its use is more censurable. Of these ointments there are endless varieties, such as the Brenthian, the Metallian, and the royal; the Plangonian and the Psagdian of Egypt. Simonides is not ashamed in Iambic lines to say —
I was anointed with ointments and perfumes,
And with nard.
For a merchant was present. They use, too, the ointment made from lilies, and that from the cypress. Nard is in high estimation with them, and the ointment prepared from roses and the others which women use besides, both moist and dry, scents for rubbing and for fumigating; for day by day their thoughts are directed to the gratification of insatiable desire, to the exhaustless variety of fragrance. Wherefore also they are redolent of an excessive luxuriousness. And they fumigate and sprinkle their clothes, their bed-clothes, and their houses. Luxury all but compels vessels for the meanest uses to smell of perfume.
There are some who, annoyed at the attention bestowed on this, appear to me to be rightly so averse to perfumes on account of their rendering manhood effeminate, as to banish their compounders and vendors from well-regulated states, and banish, too, the dyers of flower-colored wools. For it is not right that ensnaring garments and ointments should be admitted into the city of truth; but it is highly requisite for the men who belong to us to give forth the odour not of ointments, but of nobleness and goodness. And let woman breathe the odour of the true royal ointment, that of Christ, not of ointments and scented powders; and let her always be anointed with the ambrosial chrism of modesty, and find delight in the holy ointment, the Spirit. This ointment of pleasant fragrance Christ prepares for His disciples, compounding the ointment of celestial aromatic ingredients.
Wherefore also the Lord Himself is anointed with an ointment, as is mentioned by David: Wherefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows; myrrh, and stacte, and cassia from your garments. But let us not unconsciously abominate ointments, like vultures or like beetles (for these, they say, when smeared with ointment, die); and let a few ointments be selected by women, such as will not be overpowering to a husband. For excessive anointings with ointments savour of a funeral and not of connubial life. Yet oil itself is inimical to bees and insects; and some men it benefits, and some it summons to the fight; and those who were formerly friends, when anointed with it, it turns out to deadly combat.
Ointment being smooth oil, do you not think that it is calculated to render noble manners effeminate? Certainly. And as we have abandoned luxury in taste, so certainly do we renounce voluptuousness in sights and odours; lest through the senses, as through unwatched doors, we unconsciously give access into the soul to that excess which we have driven away. If, then, we say that the Lord the great High Priest offers to God the incense of sweet fragrance, let us not imagine that this is a sacrifice and sweet fragrance of incense; but let us understand it to mean, that the Lord lays the acceptable offering of love, the spiritual fragrance, on the altar.
To resume: oil itself suffices to lubricate the skin, and relax the nerves, and remove any heavy smell from the body, if we require oil for this purpose. But attention to sweet scents is a bait which draws us in to sensual lust. For the licentious man is led on every hand, both by his food, his bed, his conversation, by his eyes, his ears, his jaws, and by his nostrils too. As oxen are pulled by rings and ropes, so is the voluptuary by fumigations and ointments, and the sweet scents of crowns. But since we assign no place to pleasure which is linked to no use serviceable to life, come let us also distinguish here too, selecting what is useful. For there are sweet scents which neither make the head heavy nor provoke love, and are not redolent of embraces and licentious companionship, but, along with moderation, are salutary, nourishing the brain when labouring under indisposition, and strengthening the stomach. One must not therefore refrigerate himself with flowers when he wishes to supple his nerves. For their use is not wholly to be laid aside, but ointment is to be employed as a medicine and help in order to bring up the strength when enfeebled, and against catarrhs, and colds, and ennui, as the comic poet says:—
The nostrils are anointed; it being
A most essential thing for health to fill the brain with good odours.
The rubbing of the feet also with the fatness of warming or cooling ointments is practiced on account of its beneficial effects; so consequently, in the case of those who are thus saturated, an attraction and flow take place from the head to the inferior members. But pleasure to which no utility attaches, induces the suspicion of meretricious habits, and is a drug provocative of the passions. Rubbing one’s self with ointment is entirely different from anointing one’s self with ointment. The former is effeminate, while anointing with ointment is in some cases beneficial. Aristippus the philosopher, accordingly, when anointed with ointment, said that the wretched Cinœdi deserved to perish miserably for bringing the utility of ointment into bad repute. Honour the physician for his usefulness, says the Scripture, for the Most High made him; and the art of healing is of the Lord. Then he adds, And the compounder of ointments will make the mixture, since ointments have been given manifestly for use, not for voluptuousness. For we are by no means to care for the exciting properties of ointments, but to choose what is useful in them, since God has permitted the production of oil for the mitigation of men’s pains.
And silly women, who dye their grey hair and anoint their locks, grow speedily greyer by the perfumes they use, which are of a drying nature. Wherefore also those that anoint themselves become drier, and the dryness makes them greyer. For if greyness is an exsiccation of the hair, or defect of heat, the dryness drinking up the moisture which is the natural nutriment of the hair, and making it grey, how can we any longer retain a liking for ointments, through which ladies, in trying to escape grey hair, become grey? And as dogs with fine sense of smell track the wild beasts by the scent, so also the temperate scent the licentious by the superfluous perfume of ointments.
Such a use of crowns, also, has degenerated to scenes of revelry and intoxication. Do not encircle my head with a crown, for in the springtime it is delightful to while away the time on the dewy meads, while soft and many-colored flowers are in bloom, and, like the bees, enjoy a natural and pure fragrance. But to adorn one’s self with a crown woven from the fresh mead, and wear it at home, were unfit for a man of temperance. For it is not suitable to fill the wanton hair with rose-leaves, or violets, or lilies, or other such flowers, stripping the sward of its flowers. For a crown encircling the head cools the hair, both on account of its moisture and its coolness. Accordingly, physicians, determining by physiology that the brain is cold, approve of anointing the breast and the points of the nostrils, so that the warm exhalation passing gently through, may salutarily warm the chill. A man ought not therefore to cool himself with flowers. Besides, those who crown themselves destroy the pleasure there is in flowers: for they enjoy neither the sight of them, since they wear the crown above their eyes; nor their fragrance, since they put the flowers away above the organs of respiration. For the fragrance ascending and exhaling naturally, the organ of respiration is left destitute of enjoyment, the fragrance being carried away. As beauty, so also the flower delights when looked at; and it is meet to glorify the Creator by the enjoyment of the sight of beautiful objects. The use of them is injurious, and passes swiftly away, avenged by remorse. Very soon their evanescence is proved; for both fade, both the flower and beauty. Further, whoever touches them is cooled by the former, inflamed by the latter. In one word, the enjoyment of them except by sight is a crime, and not luxury. It becomes us who truly follow the Scripture to enjoy ourselves temperately, as in Paradise. We must regard the woman’s crown to be her husband, and the husband’s crown to be marriage; and the flowers of marriage the children of both, which the divine husbandman plucks from meadows of flesh. Children’s children are the crown of old men. Proverbs 17:6 And the glory of children is their fathers, it is said; and our glory is the Father of all; and the crown of the whole church is Christ. As roots and plants, so also have flowers their individual properties, some beneficial, some injurious, some also dangerous. The ivy is cooling; nux emits a stupefying effluvium, as the etymology shows. The narcissus is a flower with a heavy odour; the name evinces this, and it induces a torpor (νάρκην) in the nerves. And the effluvia of roses and violets being mildly cool, relieve and prevent headaches. But we who are not only not permitted to drink with others to intoxication, but not even to indulge in much wine, do not need the crocus or the flower of the cypress to lead us to an easy sleep. Many of them also, by their odours, warm the brain, which is naturally cold, volatilizing the effusions of the head. The rose is hence said to have received its name (ῥόδον) because it emits a copious stream (ῥεῦμα) of odour (ὀδωδή). Wherefore also it quickly fades.
But the use of crowns did not exist at all among the ancient Greeks; for neither the suitors nor the luxurious Phæacians used them. But at the games there was at first the gift to the athletes; second, the rising up to applaud; third, the strewing with leaves; lastly, the crown, Greece after the Median war having given herself up to luxury.
Those, then, who are trained by the Word are restrained from the use of crowns; and do not think that this Word, which has its seat in the brain, ought to be bound about, not because the crown is the symbol of the recklessness of revelry, but because it has been dedicated to idols. Sophocles accordingly called the narcissus the ancient coronet of the great gods, speaking of the earth-born divinities; and Sappho crowns the Muses with the rose:—
For you do not share in roses from Pieria.
They say, too, that Here delights in the lily, and Artemis in the myrtle. For if the flowers were made especially for man, and senseless people have taken them not for their own proper and grateful use, but have abused them to the thankless service of demons, we must keep from them for conscience sake. The crown is the symbol of untroubled tranquillity. For this reason they crown the dead, and idols, too, on the same account, by this fact giving testimony to their being dead. For revellers do not without crowns celebrate their orgies; and when once they are encircled with flowers, at last they are inflamed excessively. We must have no communion with demons. Nor must we crown the living image of God after the manner of dead idols. For the fair crown of amaranth is laid up for those who have lived well. This flower the earth is not able to bear; heaven alone is competent to produce it. Further, it were irrational in us, who have heard that the Lord was crowned with thorns, Matthew 27:29 to crown ourselves with flowers, insulting thus the sacred passion of the Lord. For the Lord’s crown prophetically pointed to us, who once were barren, but are placed around Him through the Church of which He is the Head. But it is also a type of faith, of life in respect of the substance of the wood, of joy in respect of the appellation of crown, of danger in respect of the thorn, for there is no approaching to the Word without blood. But this platted crown fades, and the plait of perversity is untied, and the flower withers. For the glory of those who have not believed on the Lord fades. And they crowned Jesus raised aloft, testifying to their own ignorance. For being hard of heart, they understood not that this very thing, which they called the disgrace of the Lord, was a prophecy wisely uttered: The Lord was not known by the people Isaiah 1:3 which erred, which was not circumcised in understanding, whose darkness was not enlightened, which knew not God, denied the Lord, forfeited the place of the true Israel, persecuted God, hoped to reduce the Word to disgrace; and Him whom they crucified as a malefactor they crowned as a king. Wherefore the Man on whom they believed not, they shall know to be the loving God the Lord, the Just. Whom they provoked to show Himself to be the Lord, to Him when lifted up they bore witness, by encircling Him, who is exalted above every name, with the diadem of righteousness by the ever-blooming thorn. This diadem, being hostile to those who plot against Him, coerces them; and friendly to those who form the Church, defends them. This crown is the flower of those who have believed on the glorified One, but covers with blood and chastises those who have not believed. It is a symbol, too, of the Lord’s successful work, He having borne on His head, the princely part of His body, all our iniquities by which we were pierced. For He by His own passion rescued us from offenses, and sins, and such like thorns; and having destroyed the devil, deservedly said in triumph, O Death, where is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15:55 And we eat grapes from thorns, and figs from thistles; while those to whom He stretched forth His hands — the disobedient and unfruitful people — He lacerates into wounds. I can also show you another mystic meaning in it. For when the Almighty Lord of the universe began to legislate by the Word, and wished His power to be manifested to Moses, a godlike vision of light that had assumed a shape was shown him in the burning bush (the bush is a thorny plant); but when the Word ended the giving of the law and His stay with men, the Lord was again mystically crowned with thorn. On His departure from this world to the place whence He came, He repeated the beginning of His old descent, in order that the Word beheld at first in the bush, and afterwards taken up crowned by the thorn, might show the whole to be the work of one power, He Himself being one, the Son of the Father, who is truly one, the beginning and the end of time.
But I have made a digression from the pædagogic style of speech, and introduced the didactic. I return accordingly to my subject.
To resume, then: we have showed that in the department of medicine, for healing, and sometimes also for moderate recreation, the delight derived from flowers, and the benefit derived from ointments and perfumes, are not to be overlooked. And if some say, What pleasure, then, is there in flowers to those that do not use them? Let them know, then, that ointments are prepared from them, and are most useful. The Susinian ointment is made from various kinds of lilies; and it is warming, aperient, drawing, moistening, abstergent, subtle, antibilious, emollient. The Narcissinian is made from the narcissus, and is equally beneficial with the Susinian. The Myrsinian, made of myrtle and myrtle berries, is a styptic, stopping effusions from the body; and that from roses is refrigerating. For, in a word, these also were created for our use. Hear me, it is said, and grow as a rose planted by the streams of waters, and give forth a sweet fragrance like frankincense, and bless the Lord for His works. Sirach 39:13-14 We should have much to say respecting them, were we to speak of flowers and odours as made for necessary purposes, and not for the excesses of luxury. And if a concession must be made, it is enough for people to enjoy the fragrance of flowers; but let them not crown themselves with them. For the Father takes great care of man, and gives to him alone His own art. The Scripture therefore says, Water, and fire, and iron, and milk, and fine flour of wheat, and honey, the blood of the grape, and oil, and clothing — all these things are for the good of the godly. Sirach 39:26-27
Chapter 9. On Sleep.
How, in due course, we are to go to sleep, in remembrance of the precepts of temperance, we must now say. For after the repast, having given thanks to God for our participation in our enjoyments, and for the [happy] passing of the day, our talk must be turned to sleep. Magnificence of bed-clothes, gold-embroidered carpets, and smooth carpets worked with gold, and long fine robes of purple, and costly fleecy cloaks, and manufactured rugs of purple, and mantles of thick pile, and couches softer than sleep, are to be banished.
For, besides the reproach of voluptuousness, sleeping on downy feathers is injurious, when our bodies fall down as into a yawning hollow, on account of the softness of the bedding.
For they are not convenient for sleepers turning in them, on account of the bed rising into a hill on either side of the body. Nor are they suitable for the digestion of the food, but rather for burning it up, and so destroying the nutriment. But stretching one’s self on even couches, affording a kind of natural gymnasium for sleep, contributes to the digestion of the food. And those that can roll on other beds, having this, as it were, for a natural gymnasium for sleep, digest food more easily, and render themselves fitter for emergencies. Moreover, silver-footed couches argue great ostentation; and the ivory on beds, the body having left the soul, is not permissible for holy men, being a lazy contrivance for rest.
We must not occupy our thoughts about these things, for the use of them is not forbidden to those who possess them; but solicitude about them is prohibited, for happiness is not to be found in them. On the other hand, it savours of cynic vanity for a man to act as Diomede —
And he stretched himself under a wild bull’s hide, —
unless circumstances compel.
Ulysses rectified the unevenness of the nuptial couch with a stone. Such frugality and self-help was practiced not by private individuals alone, but by the chiefs of the ancient Greeks. But why speak of these? Jacob slept on the ground, and a stone served him for a pillow; and then was he counted worthy to behold the vision — that was above man. And in conformity with reason, the bed which we use must be simple and frugal, and so constructed that, by avoiding the extremes [of too much indulgence and too much endurance], it may be comfortable: if it is warm, to protect us; if cold, to warm us. But let not the couch be elaborate, and let it have smooth feet; for elaborate turnings form occasionally paths for creeping things which twine themselves about the incisions of the work, and do not slip off.
Especially is a moderate softness in the bed suitable for manhood; for sleep ought not to be for the total enervation of the body, but for its relaxation. Wherefore I say that it ought not to be allowed to come on us for the sake of indulgence, but in order to rest from action. We must therefore sleep so as to be easily awaked. For it is said, Let your loins be girt about, and your lamps burning; and you yourselves like to men that watch for their lord, that when he returns from the marriage, and comes and knocks, they may straightway open to him. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He comes, shall find watching. For there is no use of a sleeping man, as there is not of a dead man. Wherefore we ought often to rise by night and bless God. For blessed are they who watch for Him, and so make themselves like the angels, whom we call watchers. But a man asleep is worth nothing, any more than if he were not alive.
But he who has the light watches, and darkness seizes not on him, John 1:5 nor sleep, since darkness does not. He that is illuminated is therefore awake towards God; and such an one lives. For what was made in Him was life. John 1:3-4 Blessed is the man, says Wisdom, who shall hear me, and the man who shall keep my ways, watching at my doors, daily observing the posts of my entrances. Proverbs 8:34 Let us not then sleep, as do others, but let us watch, says the Scripture, and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken, are drunken in the night, that is, in the darkness of ignorance. But let us who are of the day be sober. For you are all children of the light, and children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of the darkness. 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8 But whoever of us is most solicitous for living the true life, and for entertaining noble sentiments, will keep awake for as long time as possible, reserving to himself only what in this respect is conducive to his own health; and that is not very usual.
But devotion to activity begets an everlasting vigil after toils. Let not food weigh us down, but lighten us; that we may be injured as little as possible by sleep, as those that swim with weights hanging to them are weighed down. But, on the other hand, let temperance raise us as from the abyss beneath to the enterprises of wakefulness. For the oppression of sleep is like death, which forces us into insensibility, cutting off the light by the closing of the eyelids. Let not us, then, who are sons of the true light, close the door against this light; but turning in on ourselves, illumining the eyes of the hidden man, and gazing on the truth itself, and receiving its streams, let us clearly and intelligibly reveal such dreams as are true.
But the hiccuping of those who are loaded with wine, and the snortings of those who are stuffed with food, and the snoring rolled in the bed-clothes, and the rumblings of pained stomachs, cover over the clear-seeing eye of the soul, by filling the mind with ten thousand phantasies. And the cause is too much food, which drags the rational part of man down to a condition of stupidity. For much sleep brings advantage neither to our bodies nor our souls; nor is it suitable at all to those processes which have truth for their object, although agreeable to nature.
Now, just Lot (for I pass over at present the account of the economy of regeneration ) would not have been drawn into that unhallowed intercourse, had he not been intoxicated by his daughters, and overpowered by sleep. If, therefore, we cut off the causes of great tendency to sleep, we shall sleep the more soberly. For those who have the sleepless Word dwelling in them, ought not to sleep the livelong night; but they ought to rise by night, especially when the days are coming to an end, and one devote himself to literature, another begin his art, the women handle the distaff, and all of us should, so to speak, fight against sleep, accustoming ourselves to this gently and gradually, so that through wakefulness we may partake of life for a longer period.
We, then, who assign the best part of the night to wakefulness, must by no manner of means sleep by day; and fits of uselessness, and napping and stretching one’s self, and yawning, are manifestations of frivolous uneasiness of soul. And in addition to all, we must know this, that the need of sleep is not in the soul. For it is ceaselessly active. But the body is relieved by being resigned to rest, the soul while not acting through the body, but exercising intelligence within itself. Thus also, such dreams as are true, in the view of him who reflects rightly, are the thoughts of a sober soul, undistracted for the time by the affections of the body, and counselling with itself in the best manner. For the soul to cease from activity within itself, were destruction to it. Wherefore always contemplating God, and by perpetual converse with Him inoculating the body with wakefulness, it raises man to equality with angelic grace, and from the practice of wakefulness it grasps the eternity of life.
Chapter 10. — Quænam de Procreatione Liberorum Tractanda Sint.
Tempus autem opportunum conjunctionis solis iis relinquitur considerandum, qui juncti sunt matrimonio; qui autem matrimonio juncti sunt, iis scopus est et institutum, liberorum susceptio: finis autem, ut boni sint liberi: quemadmodum agricolæ seminis quidem dejectionis causa est, quod nutrimenti habendi curam gerat; agriculturæ autem finis est, fructuum perceptio. Multo autem melior est agricola, qui terram colit animatam: ille enim ed tempus alimentum expetens, hic vero ut universum permanent, curam gerens, agricolæofficio fungitur: et ille quidem propter se, hic vero propter Deum plantat ac seminat. Dixit enim: Multiplicemini; Genesis 1:27-28 ubi hoc subaudiendum est: Et ea ratione fit homo Dei imago, quatenus homo co-operatur ad generationem hominis. Non est quælibet terra apta ad suscipienda semina: quod si etiam sit quælibet, non tamen eidem agricolæ. Neque vero seminandum est supra petram, neque semen est contumlia afficiendum, quod quidem dux est et princeps generationis, estque substantia, quæ simul habet insitas naturæ rationes. Quæ sunt autem secundum naturam rationes, absque ratione præternaturalibus mandando meatibus, ignominia afficere, valde est impium. Videte itaque quomodo sapientissimus Moyses infrugiferam aliquando sationem symbolice repulerit: Non comedes, inquiens, leporem, nec hyænam. Deuteronomy 14:7 Non vult homines esse qualitatis eorum participes, neque eis æqualem gustare libidinem: hæc enim animalia ad explendum coitum venereum feruntur insano quodam furore. Ac leporem quidem dicunt quotannis multiplicare anum, pro numero annorum, quos vixit, habentem foramina: et ea ratione dum leporis esum prohibet, significat se dehortari puerorum amorem. Hyænam autem vicissim singulis annis masculinum sexum mutare in femininum: significare autem non esse illi ad adulteria prorumpendum, qui ab hyæna abstinet.
Well, I also agree that the consummately wise Moses confessedly indicates by the prohibition before us, that we must not resemble these animals; but I do not assent to the explanation of what has been symbolically spoken. For nature never can be forced to change. What once has been impressed on it, may not be transformed into the opposite by passion. For passion is not nature, and passion is wont to deface the form, not to cast it into a new shape. Though many birds are said to change with the seasons, both in color and voice, as the blackbird (κόσσυφος), which becomes yellow from black, and a chatterer from a singing-bird. Similarly also the nightingale changes by turns both its color and note. But they do not alter their nature itself, so as in the transformation to become female from male. But the new crop of feathers, like new clothes, produces a kind of coloring of the feathers, and a little after it evaporates in the rigour of winter, as a flower when its color fades. And in like manner the voice itself, injured by the cold, is enfeebled. For, in consequence of the outer skin being thickened by the surrounding air, the arteries about the neck being compressed and filled, press hard on the breath; which being very much confined, emits a stifled sound. When, again, the breath is assimilated to the surrounding air and relaxed in spring, it is freed from its confined condition, and is carried through the dilated, though till then obstructed arteries, it warbles no longer a dying melody, but now gives forth a shrill note; and the yoice flows wide, and spring now becomes the song of the voice of birds.
Nequaquam ergo credendum est, hyænam unquam mutare naturam: idem enim animal non habet simul ambo pudenda maris et feminæ, sicut nonnulli existimarunt, qui prodigiose hermaphroditos finxerunt, et inter marem et feminam, hanc masculo-feminam naturam innovarunt. Valde autem falluntur, ut qui non animadverterint, quam sit filiorum amans omnium mater et genetrix Natura: quoniam enim hoc animal, hyæna inquam, est salacissimum, sub cauda ante excrementi meatum, adnatum est ei quoddam carneum tuberculum, feminino pudendo figura persimile. Nullum autem meatum habet hæc figura carnis, qui in utilem aliquam desinat partem, vel in matricem inquam, vel in rectum intestinum: tantum habet magnam concavitatem, quæ inanem excipiat libidinem, quando aversi fuerint meatus, qui in concipiendo fetu occupati sunt. Hoc ipsum autem et masculo et feminæ hyænæ adnatum est, quod sit insigniter pathica: masculus enim vicissim et agit, et patitur: unde etiam rarissime inveniri potest hyæna femina: non enim frequenter concipit hoc animal, cum in eis largiter redundet ea, quæ præter naturam est, satio. Hac etiam ratione mihi videtur Plato in Phœdro, amorem puerorum repellens, eum appellate bestiam, quod frenum mordentes, qui se voluptatibus dedunt, libidinosi, quadrupedum cœunt more, et filios seminare conantur. Impios autem tradidit Deus, ut air Apostolus, Romans 1:26-27 in perturbationes ignominiæ: nam et feminæeorum mutaverunt naturalem usum in eum, qui est procter naturam: similiter autem et masculi eorum, relicto usu naturali, exarserunt in desiderio sui inter se invicem, masculi in masculos turpitudinem operantes, et mercedem, quam oportuit, erroris sui in se recipientes. At vero ne libidinosissimis quidem animantibus concessit natura in excrementi meatum semen immittere: urina enim in vesicam excernitur, humefactum alimentum in ventrum, lacryma vero in oculum, sanguis in venas, sordes in aures, mucus in hares defertur: fini autem recti intestini, sedes cohæret, per quam excrementa exponuntur. Sola ergo varia in hyænis natura, superfluo coitui superfluam hanc partem excogitavit, et ideo est etiam aliquantisper concavum, ut prurientibus partibus inserviat, exinde autem excæcatur concavitas: non fuit emm res fabricata ad generationem. Hinc nobis manifestum atque adeo in confesso est, vitandos esse cum masculis concubitus, et infrugiferas sationes, et Venerem præposteram, et quæ natura coalescere non possunt, androgynorum conjunctiones, ipsam naturam sequentibus, quæ id per partium prohibet constitutionem, ut quæ masculum non ad semen suscipiendum, sed ad id effundendum fecerit. Jeremias autem, hoc est, per ipsum loquens Spiritus, quando dicit: Spelunca hyænæ facta est domus mea, id quod ex mortuis constabat corporibus detestans alimentum, sapienti allegoria reprehendit cultum simulacrorum: vere enim oportet ab idolis esse puram domum Dei viventis. Rursus Moyses lepore quoque vesci prohibet. Omni enim tempore coit lepus, et salit, assidente femina, earn a tergo aggrediens: est enim ex iis, quæ retro insiliunt. Concipit autem singulis mensibus, et superfetat; init autem, et parit; postquam autem peperit, statim a quovis initur lepore (neque enim uno contenta est matrimonio) et rursus concipit, adhuc lactans: habet enim matricem, cui sunt duo sinus, et non unus solus matricis vacuus sinus, est ei sufficiens sedes ad receptaculure coitus (quidquid enim est vacuum, desiderat repleri); verum accidit, ut cure uterum gerunt, altera pars matricis desiderio teneatur et libidine furiat; quocirca fiunt eis superfetationes. A vehementibus ergo appetitionibus, mutuisque congressionibus, et cure prægnantibus feminis conjunctionibus, alternisque initibus, puerorumque stupris, adulteriis et libidine abstinere, hujus nos ænigmatis adhortata est prohibitio. Idcirco aperte, et non per renigmata Moyses prohibuit, Non fornicaberis; non mœchaberis; pueris stuprum non inferes, Exodus 20:14 inquiens. Logi itaque præscriptum totis viribus observandum, neque quidquam contra leges ullo modo faciendum est, neque mandata sunt infirmanda. Malæenim. cupiditati nomen est ὕβρις, petulantia; et equum cupiditatis, petulantem vocavit Plato, cure legissit, Facti estis mihi equi furentes in feminas. Jeremiah 5:8 Libidines autem supplicium notum nobis facient illi, qui Sodomam accesserunt, angeli. Li eos, qui probro illos afficere voluerunt, una cum ipsa civitate combusserunt, evidenti hoc indicio ignem, qui est fructus libidinis, describentes. Quæenim veteribus acciderunt, sicut ante diximus, ad nos admonendos scripta sunt, ne eisdem teneamur vitiis, et caveamus, ne in pœnas similes incidamus. Oportet autem filios existimare, pueros; uxores autem alienas intueri tanquam proprias filias: voluptates quippe continere, ventrique et iis quæ sunt infra ventrem, dominari, est maximi imperii. Si enim ne digitum quidem temere movere permittit sapienti ratio, ut confitentur Stoici, quomodo non multo magis iis, qui sapientiam persequuntur, in eam, qua coitur, particulam dominatus est obtinendus? Atque hac quidem de causa videtur esse nominatum pudendum, quod hac corporis parte magis, quam qualibet alia, cum pudore utendum sit; natura enim sicut alimentis, ita etiam legitimis nuptiis, quantum convenit, utile est, et decet, nobis uti permisit: permisit autem appetere liberorum procreationem. Quicumque autem, quod modum excedit, persequuntur, labuntur in eo quod est secundum naturam, per congressus, qui sunt præter leges, seipsos lædentes. Ante omnia enim recte habet, ut nunquam cure adolescentibus perinde ac cum feminis, Veneris utamur consuetudine. Et ideo non esse in petris et lapidibus seminandum dicit, qui a Moyse factus est philosophus, quoniam nunquam actis radicibus genitalem sit semen naturam suscepturum. Logos itaque per Moysen appertissime præcepit: Et cure masculo non dormies feminino concubitu: est enim abominatio. Leviticus 18:22 Accedit his, quod ab omni quoque arvo feminino esse abstinendum præterquam a proprio, ex divinis Scripturis colligens præclarus Plato consuluit lege illinc accepta: Et uxori proximi tui non dabis concubitum seminis, ut polluaris apud ipsam. Leviticus 18:20 Irrita autem sunt et adulterina concubinarum semina. Ne semina, ubi non vis tibi nasci quod seminatum est. Neque ullam omnino tange mulierem, præterquam tuam ipsius uxorem, ex qua sola tibi licet carnis voluptates percipere ad suscipiendam legitimam successionem. Hæc enim Logo sola sunt legitima. Eis quidem certe, qui divini muneris in producendo opificio sunt participes, semen non est abjiciendum, neque injuria afficiendum, neque tanquam si cornibus semen mandes seminandum est. Hic ipse ergo Moyses cum ipsis quoque prohibet uxoribus congredi, si forte eas detineant purgationes menstruæ. Non enim purgamento corporis genitale semen, et quod mox homo futurum est, polluere est æquum, nec sordido materiæ profluvio, et, quæ expurgantur, inquinamentis inundare ac obruere; semen autem generationis degenerat, ineptumque redditur, simatricis sulcis privetur. Neque vero ullum unquam induxit veterum Hebræorum cœuntem cum sua uxore prægnante. Sola enim voluptas, si quis ea etiam utatur in conjugio, est præter leges, et injusta, eta ratione aliena. Rursus autem Moyses abducit viros a prægnantibus, quousque pepererint. Revera enim matrix sub vesica quidem collocata, super intestinum autem, quod rectum appellatur, posita, extendit collum inter humeros in vesica; et os colli, in quod venit semen, impletum occluditur, illa autem rursus inanis redditur, cum partu purgata fuerit: fructu autem deposito, deinde semen suscipit. Neque vero nobis turpe est ad auditorum utilitatem nominare partes, in quibus fit fetus conceptio, quæ quidem Deum fabricari non puduit. Matrix itaque sitiens filiorum procreationem, semen suscipit, probrosumque et vituperandum negat coitum, post sationem ore clauso omnino jam libidinem excludens. Ejus autem appetitiones, quæ prius in amicis versabantur complexibus, intro conversæ, in procreatione sobolis occupatæ, operantur una cum Opifice. Nefas est ergo operantem jam naturam adhuc molestia afficere, superflue ad petulantem prorumpendo libidinem. Petulantia autem, quæ multa quidem habet nomina, et multas species, cure ad hanc veneream intemperantiam deflexerit, λαγνεία, id est lascivia, dicitur; quo nomine significatur libidinosa, publica, et incesta in coitum propensio: quæ cum aucta fuerit, magna simul morborum convenit multitudo, obsoniorum desiderium, vinolentia et amor in mulieres; luxus quoque, et simul universarum voluptatum studium; in quæ omnia tyrannidem obtinet cupidity. His autem cognatæ innumerabiles augentur affectiones, ex quibus mores intemperantes ad summum provehuntur. Dicit autem Scriptura: Parantur intemperantibus flagella, et supplicia humeris insipientium: Proverbs 19:29 vires intemperantiæ, ejusque constantem tolerantiam, vocans humeros insipientium. Quocirca, Amove a servis tuis spes inanes, et indecoras, inquit, cupiditates averte a me. Ventris appetitio et coitus ne me apprehendant.
Longe ergo sunt arcenda multifaria insidiatorum maleficia; non ad solam enim Cratetis Peram, sed etiam ad nostram civitatem non navigat stultus parasitus, nec scortator libidinosus, qui posteriori delectatur parte: non dolosa meretrix, nec ulla ejusmodi alia voluptatis bellua. Multa ergo nobis per totam vitam seminetur, quæ bona sit et honesta, occupatio. In summa ergo, vel jungi matrimonio, vel omnino a matrimonio purum esse oportet; in quæ stione enim id versatur, et hoc nobis declaratum est in libro De continentia. Quod si hoc ipsum, an ducenda sit uxor. veniat in considerationem: quomodo libere permittetur, quemadmodum nutrimento, ita etiam coitu semper uti, tanquam re necessaria? Ex eo ergo videri possunt nervi tanquam stamina distrahi, et in vehementi congressus intensione disrumpi. Jam vero offundit etiam caliginem sensibus, et vires enervat. Patet hoc et in animantibus rationis expertibus, et in iis, quæ in exercitatione versantur, corporibus; quorum hi quidem, qui abstinent, in certaminibus superant adversarios; illa vero a coitu abducta circumaguntur, et tantum non trahuntur, omnibus viribus et omni impetu tandem quasi enervata. Parvam epilepsiam dicebat coitum sophista Abderites morbum immedicabilem existimans. Annon enim consequuntur resolutiones, quæ exinanitionis ejusque, quod abscedit, magnitudini ascribuntur? homo enim ex homine nascitur et evellitur. Vide damni magnitudinem: totus homo per exinanitionem coitus abstrahitur. Dicit enim: Hoc nunc os ex ossibus meis, et caro ex came mea. Genesis 2:23 Homo ergo tantum exinanitur semine, quantus videtur corpore; est enim generationis initium id, quod recedit: quin etiam conturbat ebullitio materiæ et compagem corporis labefactat et commovet. Lepide ergo ille, qui interroganti, Quomodo adhuc se haberet ad res venereas, respondit: Bona verba, quæ so: ego vero lubentissime isthinc, tanquam ab agresti et insano domino, profugi. Verum concedatur quidem et admittatur matrimonium: vult enim Dominus humanum genus repleri; seal non dicit, Estote libidinosi: nec vos, tanquam ad coitum natos, voluit esse deditos voluptati. Pudore autem nos afficiat Pædagogus, clamans per Ezechielem: Circumcidamini fornicationem vestram. Aliquod tempus ad seminandum opportunum habent quoque rationis expertia animantia. Aliter autem coire, quam ad liberorum procreationem, est facere injuriam naturæ; qua quidem oportetmagistra, quas prudenter introducit temporis commoditates, diligenter observare, senectutem, inquam, et puerilem ætatem. His enim nondum concessit, illos autem non vult amplius uxores ducere. Seal non vult homines semper dare operam matrimonio. Matrimonium autem est filiorum procreationis appetitio, non inordinata seminis excretio, quæ est et præter leges eta ratione aliena. Secundum naturam autem nobis vita universa processerit, si et ab initio cupiditates contineamus, et hominum genus, quod ex divina providentia nascitur, improbis et malitiosis non tollamus artibus: eæenim, ut fornicatiohem celent, exitialia medicamenta adhibentes, quæ prorsus in perniciem ducunt, simul cum fetu omnem humanitatem perdunt. Cæterum, quibus uxores ducere concessum est, iis Pædagogo opus fuerit, ut non interdiu mystica naturæ celebrentur orgia, nec ut aliquis ex ecclesia, verbi gratia, aut ex foro mane rediens, galli more cœat, quando orationis, et lectionis, et eorum quæ interdiu facere convenit, operum tempus est. Vespere autem oportet post convivium quiescere, et post gratiarum actionem, quæ fit Deo pro bonis quæ percepimus. Non semper autem concedit tempus natura, ut peragatur congressus matrimonii; est enim eo desiderabilior conjunctio, quo diuturnior. Neque vero noctu, tanquam in tenebris, immodeste sese ac imtemperanter gerere oportet, sed verecundia, ut quæ sit lux rationis, in animo est includenda. Nihil enim a Penelope telam texente differemus, si interdiu quidem texamus dogmata temperantiæ; noctu autem ea resolvamus, cum in cubile venerimus. Si enim honestatem exercere oportet, multo magis tuæ uxori honestas est ostendenda, inhonestas vitando conjunctiones: et quod caste cum proximis verseris, fide dignum e domo adsit testimonium. Non enim potest aliquid honestum ab ea existimari, apud quam honestas in acribus illis non probatur certo quasi testimonio voluptatibus. Benevolentia autem quæ præceps fertur ad congressionem, exiguo tempore floret, et cum corpore consenescit; nonnunquam autem etiam præ senescit, flaccescente jam libidine, quando matrimonialem temperantiam meretriciæ vitiaverint libidines. Amantium enim corda sunt volucria, amorisque irritamenta exstinguuntur sæpe pœnitentia; amorque sæpe vertitur in odium, quando reprehensionera senserit satietas. Impudicorum vero verborum, et turpium figurarum, meretriciorumque osculomm, et hujusmodi lasciviarum nomina ne sunt quidem memoranda, beatum sequentibus Apostolum, qui aperte dicit: Fornicatio autem et omnis immunditia, vel plura habendi cupiditas, ne nominetur quidem in vobis, sicut decet saneros. Ephesians 5:3 Recte ergo videtur dixisse quispiam: Nulli quidem profuit coitus, recte autem cum eo agitur, quem non læserit. Nam et qui legitimus, est periculosus, nisi quatenus in liberorum procreatione versatur. De eo autem, qui est præter leges, dicit Scriptura: Mulier meretrix apro similis reputabitur. Quæautem viro subjecta est, turris est mortis iis, qui ea utuntur. Capro, vel apro, meretricis comparavit affectionem. Mortem autem dixit quæ sitam, adulterium, quod committitur in meretrice, quæ custoditur. Domum autem, et urbem, in qua suam exercent intemperantiam. Quin etiam quæ est apud vos pœtica, quodammodo ea exprobrans, scribit:—
Tecum et adulterium est, tecum coitusque nefandus,
Fœdus, femineusque, urbs pessima, plane impura.
Econtra autem pudicos admiratur:—
Quos desiderium tenuit nec turpe cubilis
Alterius, nec tetra invisaque stupra tulerunt
Ulla unquam maribus.
For many think such things to be pleasures only which are against nature, such as these sins of theirs. And those who are better than they, know them to be sins, but are overcome by pleasures, and darkness is the veil of their vicious practices. For he violates his marriage adulterously who uses it in a meretricious way, and hears not the voice of the Instructor, crying, The man who ascends his bed, who says in his soul, Who sees me? Darkness is around me, and the walls are my covering, and no one sees my sins. Why do I fear lest the Highest will remember? Sirach 23:18-19 Most wretched is such a man, dreading men’s eyes alone, and thinking that he will escape the observation of God. For he knows not, says the Scripture, that brighter ten thousand times than the sun are the eyes of the Most High, which look on all the ways of men, and cast their glance into hidden parts. Thus again the Instructor threatens them, speaking by Isaiah: Woe be to those who take counsel in secret, and say, Who sees us? Isaiah 29:15 For one may escape the light of sense, but that of the mind it is impossible to escape. For how, says Heraclitus, can one escape the notice of that which never sets? Let us by no means, then, veil our selves with the darkness; for the light dwells in us. For the darkness, it is said, comprehends it not. John 1:5 And the very night itself is illuminated by temperate reason. The thoughts of good men Scripture has named sleepless lamps; although for one to attempt even to practice concealment, with reference to what he does, is confessedly to sin. And every one who sins, directly wrongs not so much his neighbour if he commits adultery, as himself, because he has committed adultery, besides making himself worse and less thought of. For he who sins, in the degree in which he sins, becomes worse and is of less estimation than before; and he who has been overcome by base pleasures, has now licentiousness wholly attached to him. Wherefore he who commits fornication is wholly dead to God, and is abandoned by the Word as a dead body by the spirit. For what is holy, as is right, abhors to be polluted. But it is always lawful for the pure to touch the pure. Do not, I pray, put off modesty at the same time that you put off your clothes; because it is never right for the just man to divest himself of continence. For, lo, this mortal shall put on immortality; when the insatiableness of desire, which rushes into licentiousness, being trained to self-restraint, and made free from the love of corruption, shall consign the man to everlasting chastity. For in this world they marry and and are given in marriage. Matthew 22:30 But having done with the works of the flesh, and having been clothed with immortality, the flesh itself being pure, we pursue after that which is according to the measure of the angels.
Thus in the Philebus, Plato, who had been the disciple of the barbarian philosophy, mystically called those Atheists who destroy and pollute, as far as in them lies, the Deity dwelling in them — that is, the Logos— by association with their vices. Those, therefore, who are consecrated to God must never live mortally (θνητῶς). Nor, as Paul says, is it meet to make the members of Christ the members of an harlot; nor must the temple of God be made the temple of base affections. 1 Corinthians 6:15 Remember the four and twenty thousand that were rejected for fornication. But the experiences of those who have committed fornication, as I have already said, are types which correct our lusts. Moreover, the Pædagogue warns us most distinctly: Go not after your lusts, and abstain from your appetites; Sirach 18:30 for wine and women will remove the wise; and he that cleaves to harlots will become more daring. Corruption and the worm shall inherit him, and he shall be held up as public example to greater shame. And again — for he wearies not of doing good — He who averts his eyes from pleasure crowns his life.
Non est ergo justum vinci a rebus venereis, nec libidinibus stolide inhiare, nec a ratione alienis appetitionibus moveri, nec desiderare pollui. Ei autem soli, qui uxorem duxit, ut qui tunc sit agricola, serere permissum est; quando tempus sementem admittit. Adversus aliam autem intemperantiam, optimum quidem est medicamentum, ratio. Fert etiam auxilium penuria satietatis, per quam accensæ libidines prosiliunt ad voluptates.
Chapter 11. — On Clothes
Wherefore neither are we to provide for ourselves costly clothing any more than variety of food. The Lord Himself, therefore, dividing His precepts into what relates to the body, the soul, and thirdly, external things, counsels us to provide external things on account of the body; and manages the body by the soul (ψυκή), and disciplines the soul, saying, Take no thought for your life (ψυκῆ) what you shall eat; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on; for the life is more than meat, and the body more than raiment. Luke 12:22-23 And He adds a plain example of instruction: Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Luke 12:24 Are you not better than the fowls? Luke 12:24 Thus far as to food. Similarly He enjoins with respect to clothing, which belongs to the third division, that of things external, saying, Consider the lilies, how they spin not, nor weave. But I say unto you, that not even Solomon was arrayed as one of these. Luke 12:27 And Solomon the king plumed himself exceedingly on his riches.
What, I ask, more graceful, more gay-colored, than flowers? What, I say, more delightful than lilies or roses? And if God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! Luke 12:28 Here the particle what (τί) banishes variety in food. For this is shown from the Scripture, Take no thought what things you shall eat, or what things you shall drink. For to take thought of these things argues greed and luxury. Now eating, considered merely by itself, is the sign of necessity; repletion, as we have said, of want. Whatever is beyond that, is the sign of superfluity. And what is superfluous, Scripture declares to be of the devil. The subjoined expression makes the meaning plain. For having said, Seek not what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, He added, Neither be of doubtful (or lofty) mind. Now pride and luxury make men waverers (or raise them aloft) from the truth; and the voluptuousness, which indulges in superfluities, leads away from the truth. Wherefore He says very beautifully, And all these things do the nations of the world seek after. Matthew 6:32 The nations are the dissolute and the foolish. And what are these things which He specifies? Luxury, voluptuousness, rich cooking, dainty feeding, gluttony. These are the What? And of bare sustenance, dry and moist, as being necessaries, He says, Your Father knows that you need these. And if, in a word, we are naturally given to seeking, let us not destroy the faculty of seeking by directing it to luxury, but let us excite it to the discovery of truth. For He says, Seek the kingdom of God, and the materials of sustenance shall be added to you.
If, then, He takes away anxious care for clothes and food, and superfluities in general, as unnecessary; what are we to imagine ought to be said of love of ornament, and dyeing of wool, and variety of colors, and fastidiousness about gems, and exquisite working of gold, and still more, of artificial hair and wreathed curls; and furthermore, of staining the eyes, and plucking out hairs, and painting with rouge and white lead, and dyeing of the hair, and the wicked arts that are employed in such deceptions? May we not very well suspect, that what was quoted a little above respecting the grass, has been said of those unornamental lovers of ornaments? For the field is the world, and we who are bedewed by the grace of God are the grass; and though cut down, we spring up again, as will be shown at greater length in the book On the Resurrection. But hay figuratively designates the vulgar rabble, attached to ephemeral pleasure, flourishing for a little, loving ornament, loving praise, and being everything but truth-loving, good for nothing but to be burned with fire. There was a certain man, said the Lord, narrating, very rich, who was clothed in purple and scarlet, enjoying himself splendidly every day. This was the hay. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at the rich man’s gate, full of sores, desiring to be filled with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. This is the grass. Well, the rich man was punished in Hades, being made partaker of the fire; while the other flourished again in the Father’s bosom. I admire that ancient city of the Lacedæmonians which permitted harlots alone to wear flowered clothes, and ornaments of gold, interdicting respectable women from love of ornament, and allowing courtesans alone to deck themselves. On the other hand, the archons of the Athenians, who affected a polished mode of life, forgetting their manhood, wore tunics reaching to the feet, and had on the crobulus — a kind of knot of the hair — adorned with a fastening of gold grasshoppers, to show their origin from the soil, forsooth, in the ostentation of licentiousness. Now rivalry of these archons extended also to the other Ionians, whom Homer, to show their effeminancy, calls Long-robed. Those, therefore, who are devoted to the image of the beautiful, that is, love of finery, not the beautiful itself, and who under a fair name again practice idolatry, are to be banished far from the truth, as those who by opinion, not knowledge, dream of the nature of the beautiful; and so life here is to them only a deep sleep of ignorance; from which it becomes us to rouse ourselves and haste to that which is truly beautiful and comely, and desire to grasp this alone, leaving the ornaments of earth to the world, and bidding them farewell before we fall quite asleep. I say, then, that man requires clothes for nothing else than the covering of the body, for defense against excess of cold and intensity of heat, lest the inclemency of the air injure us. And if this is the object of clothing, see that one kind be not assigned to men and another to women. For it is common to both to be covered, as it is to eat and drink. The necessity, then, being common, we judge that the provision ought to be similar. For as it is common to both to require things to cover them, so also their coverings ought to be similar; although such a covering ought to be assumed as is requisite for covering the eyes of women. For if the female sex, on account of their weakness, desire more, we ought to blame the habit of that evil training, by which often men reared up in bad habits become more effeminate than women. But this must not be yielded to. And if some accommodation is to be made, they may be permitted to use softer clothes, provided they put out of the way fabrics foolishly thin, and of curious texture in weaving; bidding farewell to embroidery of gold and Indian silks and elaborate Bombyces (silks), which is at first a worm, then from it is produced a hairy caterpillar; after which the creature suffers a new transformation into a third form which they call larva, from which a long filament is produced, as the spider’s thread from the spider. For these superfluous and diaphanous materials are the proof of a weak mind, covering as they do the shame of the body with a slender veil. For luxurious clothing, which cannot conceal the shape of the body, is no more a covering. For such clothing, falling close to the body, takes its form more easily, and adhering as it were to the flesh, receives its shape, and marks out the woman’s figure, so that the whole make of the body is visible to spectators, though not seeing the body itself.
Dyeing of clothes is also to be rejected. For it is remote both from necessity and truth, in addition to the fact that reproach in manners spring from it. For the use of colors is not beneficial, for they are of no service against cold; nor has it anything for covering more than other clothing, except the opprobrium alone. And the agreeableness of the color afflicts greedy eyes, inflaming them to senseless blindness. But for those who are white and unstained within, it is most suitable to use white and simple garments. Clearly and plainly, therefore, Daniel the prophet says, Thrones were set, and upon them sat one like the Ancient of days, and His vesture was white as snow. Daniel 7:9 The Apocalypse says also that the Lord Himself appeared wearing such a robe. It says also, I saw the souls of those that had witnessed, beneath the altar, and there was given to each a white robe. Revelation 6:9, 11 And if it were necessary to seek for any other color, the natural color of truth should suffice. But garments which are like flowers are to be abandoned to Bacchic fooleries, and to those of the rites of initiation, along with purple and silver plate, as the comic poet says:—
Useful for tragedians, not far life.
And our life ought to be anything rather than a pageant. Therefore the dye of Sardis, and another of olive, and another green, a rose-colored, and scarlet, and ten thousand other dyes, have been invented with much trouble for mischievous voluptuousness. Such clothing is for looking at, not for covering. Garments, too, variegated with gold, and those that are purple, and that piece of luxury which has its name from beasts (figured on it), and that saffron-colored ointment-dipped robe, and those costly and many-colored garments of flaring membranes, we are to bid farewell to, with the art itself. For what prudent thing can these women have done, says the comedy, who sit covered with flowers, wearing a saffron-colored dress, painted?
The Instructor expressly admonishes, Boast not of the clothing of your garment, and be not elated on account of any glory, as it is unlawful. Sirach 11:4
Accordingly, deriding those who are clothed in luxurious garments, He says in the Gospel: Lo, they who live in gorgeous apparel and luxury are in earthly palaces. Luke 7:25 He says in perishable palaces, where are love of display, love of popularity, and flattery and deceit. But those that wait at the court of heaven around the King of all, are sanctified in the immortal vesture of the Spirit, that is, the flesh, and so put on incorruptibility.
As therefore she who is unmarried devotes herself to God alone, and her care is not divided, but the chaste married woman divides her life between God and her husband, while she who is otherwise disposed is devoted entirely to marriage, that is, to passion: in the same way I think the chaste wife, when she devotes herself to her husband, sincerely serves God; but when she becomes fond of finery, she falls away from God and from chaste wedlock, exchanging her husband for the world, after the fashion of that Argive courtesan, I mean Eriphyle, —
Who received gold prized above her dear husband.
Wherefore I admire the Ceian sophist, who delineated like and suitable images of Virtue and Vice, representing the former of these, viz. Virtue, standing simply, white-robed and pure, adorned with modesty alone (for such ought to be the true wife, dowered with modesty). But the other, viz. Vice, on the contrary, he introduces dressed in superfluous attire, brightened up with color not her own; and her gait and mien are depicted as studiously framed to give pleasure, forming a sketch of wanton women.
But he who follows the Word will not addict himself to any base pleasure; wherefore also what is useful in the article of dress is to be preferred. And if the Word, speaking of the Lord by David, sings, The daughters of kings made You glad by honour; the queen stood at Your right hand, clad in cloth of gold, girt with golden fringes, it is not luxurious raiment that he indicates; but he shows the immortal adornment, woven of faith, of those that have found mercy, that is, the Church; in which the guileless Jesus shines conspicuous as gold, and the elect are the golden tassels. And if such must be woven for the women, let us weave apparel pleasant and soft to the touch, not flowered, like pictures, to delight the eye. For the picture fades in course of time, and the washing and steeping in the medicated juices of the dye wear away the wool, and render the fabrics of the garments weak; and this is not favourable to economy. It is the height of foolish ostentation to be in a flutter about peploi, and xystides, and ephaptides, and cloaks, and tunics, and what covers shame, says Homer. For, in truth, I am ashamed when I see so much wealth lavished on the covering of the nakedness. For primeval man in Paradise provided a covering for his shame of branches and leaves; and now, since sheep have been created for us, let us not be as silly as sheep, but trained by the Word, let us condemn sumptuousness of clothing, saying, You are sheep’s wool. Though Miletus boast, and Italy be praised, and the wool, about which many rave, be protected beneath skins, yet are we not to set our hearts on it.
The blessed John, despising the locks of sheep as savouring of luxury, chose camel’s hair, and was clad in it, making himself an example of frugality and simplicity of life. For he also ate locusts and wild honey, Mark 1:6 sweet and spiritual fare; preparing, as he was, the lowly and chaste ways of the Lord. For how possibly could he have worn a purple robe, who turned away from the pomp of cities, and retired to the solitude of the desert, to live in calmness with God, far from all frivolous pursuits — from all false show of good — from all meanness? Elias used a sheepskin mantle, and fastened the sheepskin with a girdle made of hair. 2 Kings 1:8 And Esaias, another prophet, was naked and barefooted, Isaiah 20:2 and often was clad in sackcloth, the garb of humility. And if you call Jeremiah, he had only a linen girdle. Jeremiah 13:1
For as well-nurtured bodies, when stripped, show their vigour more manifestly, so also beauty of character shows its magnanimity, when not involved in ostentatious fooleries. But to drag one’s clothes, letting them down to the soles of his feet, is a piece of consummate foppery, impeding activity in walking, the garment sweeping the surface dirt of the ground like a broom; since even those emasculated creatures the dancers, who transfer their dumb shameless profligacy to the stage, do not despise the dress which flows away to such indignity; whose curious vestments, and appendages of fringes, and elaborate motions of figures, show the trailing of sordid effeminacy.
If one should adduce the garment of the Lord reaching down to the foot, that many-flowered coat shows the flowers of wisdom, the varied and unfading Scriptures, the oracles of the Lord, resplendent with the rays of truth. In such another robe the Spirit arrayed the Lord through David, when he sang thus: You were clothed with confession and comeliness, putting on light as a garment.
As, then, in the fashioning of our clothes, we must keep clear of all strangeness, so in the use of them we must beware of extravagance. For neither is it seemly for the clothes to be above the knee, as they say was the case with the Lacedæmonian virgins; nor is it becoming for any part of a woman to be exposed. Though you may with great propriety use the language addressed to him who said, Your arm is beautiful; yes, but it is not for the public gaze. Your thighs are beautiful; but, was the reply, for my husband alone. And your face is comely. Yes; but only for him who has married me. But I do not wish chaste women to afford cause for such praises to those who, by praises, hunt after grounds of censure; and not only because it is prohibited to expose the ankle, but because it has also been enjoined that the head should be veiled and the face covered; for it is a wicked thing for beauty to be a snare to men. Nor is it seemly for a woman to wish to make herself conspicuous, by using a purple veil. Would it were possible to abolish purple in dress, so as not to turn the eyes of spectators on the face of those that wear it! But the women, in the manufacture of all the rest of their dress, have made everything of purple, thus inflaming the lusts. And, in truth, those women who are crazy about these stupid and luxurious purples, purple (dark) death has seized, according to the poetic saying. On account of this purple, then, Tyre and Sidon, and the vicinity of the Lacedæmonian Sea, are very much desired; and their dyers and purple-fishers, and the purple fishes themselves, because their blood produces purple, are held in high esteem. But crafty women and effeminate men, who blend these deceptive dyes with dainty fabrics, carry their insane desires beyond all bounds, and export their fine linens no longer from Egypt, but some other kinds from the land of the Hebrews and the Cilicians. I say nothing of the linens made of Amorgos and Byssus. Luxury has outstripped nomenclature.
The covering ought, in my judgment, to show that which is covered to be better than itself, as the image is superior to the temple, the soul to the body, and the body to the clothes. But now, quite the contrary, the body of these ladies, if sold, would never fetch a thousand Attic drachms. Buying, as they do, a single dress at the price of ten thousand talents, they prove themselves to be of less use and less value than cloth. Why in the world do you seek after what is rare and costly, in preference to what is at hand and cheap? It is because you know not what is really beautiful, what is really good, and seek with eagerness shows instead of realities from fools who, like people out of their wits, imagine black to be white.
Chapter 12. On Shoes.
Women fond of display act in the same manner with regard to shoes, showing also in this matter great luxuriousness. Base, in truth, are those sandals on which golden ornaments are fastened; but they are thought worth having nails driven into the soles in winding rows. Many, too, carve on them amorous embraces, as if they would by their walk communicate to the earth harmonious movement, and impress on it the wantonness of their spirit. Farewell, therefore, must be bidden to gold-plated and jewelled mischievous devices of sandals, and Attic and Sicyonian half-boots, and Persian and Tyrrhenian buskins; and setting before us the right aim, as is the habit with our truth, we are bound to select what is in accordance with nature.
For the use of shoes is partly for covering, partly for defense in case of stumbling against objects, and for saving the sole of the foot from the roughness of hilly paths.
Women are to be allowed a white shoe, except when on a journey, and then a greased shoe must be used. When on a journey, they require nailed shoes. Further, they ought for the most part to wear shoes; for it is not suitable for the foot to be shown naked: besides, woman is a tender thing, easily hurt. But for a man bare feet are quite in keeping, except when he is on military service. For being shod is near neighbour to being bound.
To go with bare feet is most suitable for exercise, and best adapted for health and ease, unless where necessity prevents. But if we are not on a journey, and cannot endure bare feet, we may use slippers or white shoes; dusty-foots the Attics called them, on account of their bringing the feet near the dust, as I think. As a witness for simplicity in shoes let John suffice, who avowed that he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of the Lord’s shoes. For he who exhibited to the Hebrews the type of the true philosophy wore no elaborate shoes. What else this may imply, will be shown elsewhere.
Chapter 13. Against Excessive Fondness for Jewels and Gold Ornaments
It is childish to admire excessively dark or green stones, and things cast out by the sea on foreign shores, particles of the earth. For to rush after stones that are pellucid and of peculiar colors, and stained glass, is only characteristic of silly people, who are attracted by things that have a striking show. Thus children, on seeing the fire, rush to it, attracted by its brightness; not understanding through senselessness the danger of touching it. Such is the case with the stones which silly women wear fastened to chains and set in necklaces, amethysts, ceraunites, jaspers, topaz, and the Milesian
Emerald, most precious ware.
And the highly prized pearl has invaded the woman’s apartments to an extravagant extent. This is produced in a kind of oyster like mussels, and is about the bigness of a fish’s eye of large size. And the wretched creatures are not ashamed at having bestowed the greatest pains about this little oyster, when they might adorn themselves with the sacred jewel, the Word of God, whom the Scripture has somewhere called a pearl, the pure and pellucid Jesus, the eye that watches in the flesh — the transparent Word, by whom the flesh, regenerated by water, becomes precious. For that oyster that is in the water covers the flesh all round, and out of it is produced the pearl.
We have heard, too, that the Jerusalem above is walled with sacred stones; and we allow that the twelve gates of the celestial city, by being made like precious stones, indicate the transcendent grace of the apostolic voice. For the colors are laid on in precious stones, and these colors are precious; while the other parts remain of earthy material. With these symbolically, as is meet, the city of the saints, which is spiritually built, is walled. By that brilliancy of stones, therefore, is meant the inimitable brilliancy of the spirit, the immortality and sanctity of being. But these women, who comprehend not the symbolism of Scripture, gape all they can for jewels, adducing the astounding apology, Why may I not use what God has exhibited? and, I have it by me, why may I not enjoy it? and, For whom were these things made, then, if not for us? Such are the utterances of those who are totally ignorant of the will of God. For first necessaries, such as water and air, He supplies free to all; and what is not necessary He has hid in the earth and water. Wherefore ants dig, and griffins guard gold, and the sea hides the pearl-stone. But you busy yourselves about what you need not. Behold, the whole heaven is lighted up, and you seek not God; but gold which is hidden, and jewels, are dug up by those among us who are condemned to death.
But you also oppose Scripture, seeing it expressly cries Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 But if all things have been conferred on you, and all things allowed you, and if all things are lawful, yet all things are not expedient, 1 Corinthians 10:23 says the apostle. God brought our race into communion by first imparting what was His own, when He gave His own Word, common to all, and made all things for all. All things therefore are common, and not for the rich to appropriate an undue share. That expression, therefore, I possess, and possess in abundance: why then should I not enjoy? is suitable neither to the man, nor to society. But more worthy of love is that: I have: why should I not give to those who need? For such an one — one who fulfils the command, You shall love your neighbour as yourself— is perfect. For this is the true luxury — the treasured wealth. But that which is squandered on foolish lusts is to be reckoned waste, not expenditure. For God has given to us, I know well, the liberty of use, but only so far as necessary; and He has determined that the use should be common. And it is monstrous for one to live in luxury, while many are in want. How much more glorious is it to do good to many, than to live sumptuously! How much wiser to spend money on human being, than on jewels and gold! How much more useful to acquire decorous friends, than lifeless ornaments! Whom have lands ever benefited so much as conferring favours has? It remains for us, therefore, to do away with this allegation: Who, then, will have the more sumptuous things, if all select the simpler? Men, I would say, if they make use of them impartially and indifferently. But if it be impossible for all to exercise self-restraint, yet, with a view to the use of what is necessary, we must seek after what can be most readily procured, bidding a long farewell to these superfluities.
In fine, they must accordingly utterly cast off ornaments as girls’ gewgaws, rejecting adornment itself entirely. For they ought to be adorned within, and show the inner woman beautiful. For in the soul alone are beauty and deformity shown. Wherefore also only the virtuous man is really beautiful and good. And it is laid down as a dogma, that only the beautiful is good. And excellence alone appears through the beautiful body, and blossoms out in the flesh, exhibiting the amiable comeliness of self-control, whenever the character like a beam of light gleams in the form. For the beauty of each plant and animal consists in its individual excellence. And the excellence of man is righteousness, and temperance, and manliness, and godliness. The beautiful man is, then, he who is just, temperate, and in a word, good, not he who is rich. But now even the soldiers wish to be decked with gold, not having read that poetical saying:—
With childish folly to the war he came,
Laden with store of gold.
But the love of ornament, which is far from caring for virtue, but claims the body for itself, when the love of the beautiful has changed to empty show, is to be utterly expelled. For applying things unsuitable to the body, as if they were suitable, begets a practice of lying and a habit of falsehood; and shows not what is decorous, simple, and truly childlike, but what is pompous, luxurious, and effeminate. But these women obscure true beauty, shading it with gold. And they know not how great is their transgression, in fastening around themselves ten thousand rich chains; as they say that among the barbarians malefactors are bound with gold. The women seem to me to emulate these rich prisoners. For is not the golden necklace a collar, and do not the necklets which they call catheters occupy the place of chains? And indeed among the Attics they are called by this very name. The ungraceful things round the feet of women, Philemon in the Synephebus called ankle-fetters:—
Conspicuous garments, and a kind of a golden fetter.
What else, then, is this coveted adorning of yourselves, O ladies, but the exhibiting of yourselves fettered? For if the material does away with the reproach, the endurance [of your fetters] is a thing indifferent. To me, then, those who voluntarily put themselves into bonds seem to glory in rich calamities.
Perchance also it is such chains that the poetic fable says were thrown around Aphrodite when committing adultery, referring to ornaments as nothing but the badge of adultery. For Homer called those, too, golden chains. But new women are not ashamed to wear the most manifest badges of the evil one. For as the serpent deceived Eve, so also has ornament of gold maddened other women to vicious practices, using as a bait the form of the serpent, and by fashioning lampreys and serpents for decoration. Accordingly the comic poet Nicostratus says, Chains, collars, rings, bracelets, serpents, anklets, earrings.
In terms of strongest censure, therefore, Aristophanes in the Thesmophoriazousæ exhibits the whole array of female ornament in a catalogue:—
Snoods, fillets, natron, and steel;
Pumice-stone, band, back-band,
Back-veil, paint, necklaces,
Paints for the eyes, soft garment, hair-net,
Girdle, shawl, fine purple border,
Long robe, tunic, Barathrum, round tunic.
But I have not yet mentioned the principal of them. Then what?
Ear-pendants, jewelry, ear-rings;
Mallow-colored cluster-shaped anklets;
Buckles, clasps, necklets,
Fetters, seals, chains, rings, powders,
Bosses, bands, olisbi, Sardian stones,
I am weary and vexed at enumerating the multitude of ornaments; and I am compelled to wonder how those who bear such a burden are not worried to death. O foolish trouble! O silly craze for display! They squander meretriciously wealth on what is disgraceful; and in their love for ostentation disfigure God’s gifts, emulating the art of the evil one. The rich man hoarding up in his barns, and saying to himself, You have much goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, be merry, the Lord in the Gospel plainly called fool. For this night they shall take of you your soul; whose then shall those things which you have prepared be? Luke 12:19-20
Apelles, the painter, seeing one of his pupils painting a figure loaded with gold color to represent Helen, said to him, Boy, being incapable of painting her beautiful, you have made her rich.
Such Helens are the ladies of the present day, not truly beautiful, but richly got up. To these the Spirit prophesies by Zephaniah: And their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord ‘s anger. Zephaniah 1:18
But for those women who have been trained under Christ, it is suitable to adorn themselves not with gold, but with the Word, through whom alone the gold comes to light.
Happy, then, would have been the ancient Hebrews, had they cast away their women’s ornaments, or only melted them; but having cast their gold into the form of an ox, and paid it idolatrous worship, they consequently reap no advantage either from their art or their attempt. But they taught our women most expressively to keep clear of ornaments. The lust which commits fornication with gold becomes an idol, and is tested by fire; for which alone luxury is reserved, as being an idol, not a reality. Hence the Word, upbraiding the Hebrews by the prophet, says, They made to Baal things of silver and gold, that is, ornaments. And most distinctly threatening, He says, I will punish her for the days of Baalim, in which they offered sacrifice for her, and she put on her earrings and her necklaces. Hosea 2:8 And He subjoined the cause of the adornment, when He said, And she went after her lovers, but forgot Me, says the Lord . Hosea 2:13
Resigning, therefore, these baubles to the wicked master of cunning himself, let us not take part in this meretricious adornment, nor commit idolatry through a specious pretext. Most admirably, therefore, the blessed Peter says, In like manner also, that women adorn themselves not with braids, or gold, or costly array, but (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works. For it is with reason that he bids decking of themselves to be kept far from them. For, granting that they are beautiful, nature suffices. Let not art contend against nature; that is, let not falsehood strive with truth. And if they are by nature ugly, they are convicted, by the things they apply to themselves, of what they do not possess [i.e., of the want of beauty]. It is suitable, therefore, for women who serve Christ to adopt simplicity. For in reality simplicity provides for sanctity, by reducing redundancies to equality, and by furnishing from whatever is at hand the enjoyment sought from superfluities. For simplicity, as the name shows, is not conspicuous, is not inflated or puffed up in anything, but is altogether even, and gentle, and equal, and free of excess, and so is sufficient. And sufficiency is a condition which reaches its proper end without excess or defect. The mother of these is Justice, and their nurse Independence; and this is a condition which is satisfied with what is necessary, and by itself furnishes what contributes to the blessed life.
Let there, then, be in the fruits of your hands, sacred order, liberal communication, and acts of economy. For he that gives to the poor, lends to God. Proverbs 19:17 And the hands of the manly shall be enriched. Proverbs 10:4 Manly He calls those who despise wealth, and are free in bestowing it. And on your feet let active readiness to well-doing appear, and a journeying to righteousness. Modesty and chastity are collars and necklaces; such are the chains which God forges. Happy is the man who has found wisdom, and the mortal who knows understanding, says the Spirit by Solomon: for it is better to buy her than treasures of gold and silver; and she is more valuable than precious stones. Proverbs 3:13-15 For she is the true decoration.
And let not their ears be pierced, contrary to nature, in order to attach to them ear-rings and ear-drops. For it is not right to force nature against her wishes. Nor could there be any better ornament for the ears than true instruction, which finds its way naturally into the passages of hearing. And eyes anointed by the Word, and ears pierced for perception, make a man a hearer and contemplator of divine and sacred things, the Word truly exhibiting the true beauty which eye has not seen nor ear heard before. 1 Corinthians 2:9
Translated by William Wilson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.