Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter IV.—With Whom We are to Associate.
Chapter IV.—With Whom We are to Associate.
But really I have unwittingly deviated in spirit from the order, to which I must now revert, and must find fault with having large numbers of domestics. For, avoiding working with their own p. 278 hands and serving themselves, men have recourse to servants, purchasing a great crowd of fine cooks, and of people to lay out the table, and of others to divide the meat skilfully into pieces. And the staff of servants is separated into many divisions; some labour for their gluttony, carvers and seasoners, and the compounders and makers of sweetmeats, and honey-cakes, and custards; others are occupied with their too numerous clothes; others guard the gold, like griffins; others keep the silver, and wipe the cups, and make ready what is needed to furnish the festive table; others rub down the horses; and a crowd of cup-bearers exert themselves in their service, and herds of beautiful boys, like cattle, from whom they milk away their beauty. And male and female assistants at the toilet are employed about the ladies—some for the mirrors, some for the head-dresses, others for the combs. Many are eunuchs; and these panders serve without suspicion those that wish to be free to enjoy their pleasures, because of the belief that they are unable to indulge in lust. But a true eunuch is not one who is unable, but one who is unwilling, to indulge in pleasure. The Word, testifying by the prophet Samuel to the Jews, who had transgressed when the people asked for a king, promised not a loving lord, but threatened to give them a self-willed and voluptuous tyrant, “who shall,” He says, “take your daughters to be perfumers, and cooks, and bakers,” 1616 ruling by the law of war, not desiring a peaceful administration. And there are many Celts, who bear aloft on their shoulders womens litters. But workers in wool, and spinners, and weavers, and female work and housekeeping, are nowhere.
But those who impose on the women, spend the day with them, telling them silly amatory stories, and wearing out body and soul with their false acts and words. “Thou shalt not be with many,” it is said, “for evil, nor give thyself to a multitude;” 1617 for wisdom shows itself among few, but disorder in a multitude. But it is not for grounds of propriety, on account of not wishing to be seen, that they purchase bearers, for it were commendable if out of such feelings they put themselves under a covering; but it is out of luxuriousness that they are carried on their domestics shoulders, and desire to make a show.
So, opening the curtain, and looking keenly round on all that direct their eyes towards them, they show their manners; and often bending forth from within, disgrace this superficial propriety by their dangerous restlessness. “Look not round,” it is said, “in the streets of the city, and wander not in its lonely places.” 1618 For that is, in truth, a lonely place, though there be a crowd of the licentious in it, where no wise man is present.
And these women are carried about over the temples, sacrificing and practising divination day by day, spending their time with fortune-tellers, and begging priests, and disreputable old women; and they keep up old wives whisperings over their cups, learning charms and incantations from soothsayers, to the ruin of the nuptial bonds. And some men they keep; by others they are kept; and others are promised them by the diviners. They know not that they are cheating themselves, and giving up themselves as a vessel of pleasure to those that wish to indulge in wantonness; and exchanging their purity for the foulest outrage, they think what is the most shameful ruin a great stroke of business. And there are many ministers to this meretricious licentiousness, insinuating themselves, one from one quarter, another from another. For the licentious rush readily into uncleanness, like swine rushing to that part of the hold of the ship which is depressed. Whence the Scripture most strenuously exhorts, “Introduce not every one into thy house, for the snares of the crafty are many.” 1619 And in another place, “Let just men be thy guests, and in the fear of the Lord let thy boast remain.” 1620 Away with fornication. “For know this well,” says the apostle, “that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” 1621
But these women delight in intercourse with the effeminate. And crowds of abominable creatures (κιναίδες) flow in, of unbridled tongue, filthy in body, filthy in language; men enough for lewd offices, ministers of adultery, giggling and whispering, and shamelessly making through their noses sounds of lewdness and fornication to provoke lust, endeavouring to please by lewd words and attitudes, inciting to laughter, the precursor of fornication. And sometimes, when inflamed by any provocation, either these fornicators, or those that follow the rabble of abominable creatures to destruction, make a sound in their nose like a frog, as if they had got anger dwelling in their nostrils. But those who are more refined than these keep Indian birds and Median pea-fowls, and recline with peak-headed 1622 creatures; playing with satyrs, delighting in monsters. They laugh when they hear Thersites; and these women, purchasing Thersiteses highly valued, pride themselves not in their husbands, but in those wretches which are a burden on the earth, and overlook the chaste widow, who is of far higher value than a Melitæan pup, and look p. 279 askance at a just old man, who is lovelier in my estimation than a monster purchased for money. And though maintaining parrots and curlews, they do not receive the orphan child; 1623 but they expose children that are born at home, and take up the young of birds, and prefer irrational to rational creatures; although they ought to undertake the maintenance of old people with a character for sobriety, who are fairer in my mind than apes, and capable of uttering something better than nightingales; and to set before them that saying, “He that pitieth the poor lendeth to the Lord;” 1624 and this, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these My brethren, ye have done it to Me.” 1625 But these, on the other hand, prefer ignorance to wisdom, turning their wealth into stone, that is, into pearls and Indian emeralds. And they squander and throw away their wealth on fading dyes, and bought slaves; like crammed fowls scraping the dung of life. “Poverty,” it is said, “humbles a man.” 1626 By poverty is meant that niggardliness by which the rich are poor, having nothing to give away.
1 Sam. viii. 13.278:1617
Ex. xxiii. 2.278:1618
Ecclus. ix. 7.278:1619
Ecclus. xi. 29.278:1620
Ecclus. ix. 16.278:1621
Eph. v. 5.278:1622
φοξός, in allusion to Thersites, to which Homer applies this epithet.279:1623
[The wasting on pet dogs, pups, and other animals, expense and pains which might help an orphan child, is a sin not yet uprooted. Here Clements plea for widows, orphans, and aged men, prepares the way for Christian institutions in behalf of these classes. The same arguments should prevail with Christians in America.]279:1624
Prov. xix. 17.279:1625
Matt. xxv. 40.279:1626
Prov. x. 4.
Next: Chapter V.—Behaviour in the Baths.
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: https://st-takla.org / Contact us at