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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chap. XII.—On Shoes.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chap. XII.—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 1550 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 defence 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.” 1551

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 1552 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.” 1553 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.


Footnotes

267:1550

[It was such designs which early Christian art endeavoured to supplant, by the devices on lamps, ΧΡ, ΑΩ., etc.]

267:1551

υποδεδεσθαι τῷ δεδέσθαι. “Wearing boots is near neighbour to wearing bonds.”

267:1552

κονιποδες.

267:1553

Mark. i. 7; Luke iii. 16. [It was reserved for Chrysostom to give a more terrible counterblast against costly chaussure, in commenting upon Matt. xvi. 13, et seq. Opera, tom. vii. p. 502, ed. Migne.]


Next: Chapter XIII—Against Excessive Fondness for Jewels and Gold Ornaments.

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