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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XI.

In fulfilment of our plan, let us now go on to consider the combats.  Their origin is akin to that of the games (ludi). Hence they are kept as either sacred or funereal, as they have been instituted in honour of the idol-gods of the nations or of the dead.  Thus, too, they are called Olympian in honour of Jupiter, known at Rome as the Capitoline; Nemean, in honour of Hercules; Isthmian, in honour of Neptune; the rest mortuarii, as belonging to the dead. What wonder, then, if idolatry pollutes the combat-parade with profane crowns, with sacerdotal chiefs, with attendants belonging to the various colleges, last of all with the blood of its sacrifices? To add a completing word about the “place”—in the common place for the college of the arts sacred to the Muses, and Apollo, and Minerva, and also for that of the arts dedicated to Mars, they with contest and sound of trumpet emulate the circus in the arena, which is a real temple—I mean of the god whose festivals it celebrates. The gymnastic arts also originated with their Castors, and Herculeses, and Mercuries.

Next: Chapter XII.