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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: Chapter XVIII.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XVIII.

But if you argue that the racecourse is mentioned in Scripture, I grant it at once. But you will not refuse to admit that the things which are done there are not for you to look upon: the blows, and kicks, and cuffs, and all the recklessness of hand, and everything like that disfiguration of the human countenance, which is nothing less than the disfiguration of God’s own image. You will never give your approval to those foolish racing and throwing feats, and yet more foolish leapings; you will never find pleasure in injurious or useless exhibitions of strength; certainly you will not regard with approval those efforts after an artificial body which aim at surpassing the Creator’s work; and you will have the very opposite of complacency in the athletes Greece, in the inactivity of peace, feeds up. And the wrestler’s art is a devil’s thing. The devil wrestled with, and crushed to death, the first human beings.  Its very attitude has power in it of the serpent kind, firm to hold—tortures to clasp—slippery to glide away.  You have no need of crowns; why do you strive to get pleasures from crowns?

Next: Chapter XIX.

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