Vincent Hunink, Tertullian: De Pallio (2005)  English translation


TERTULLIAN

ON THE MANTLE

CHAPTER 1

(1.1) 1 You, who are have always been leaders of Africa, men of Carthage, noble of old and blessed today, I am glad that you live in such happy times that you can find both the time and the pleasure of censuring clothing! 2 This is the sort of pursuit of peace and plenty. All is well on the part of the empire and on the part of the sky.

        3 However, in the past you too wore your clothing, tunics, differently: they were even famous for their skilful weave, harmonious colouring, and proper size. For they did not fall extravagantly over the legs or shamelessly above the knees, they did not fit shortly at the arms nor tightly at the hands. No, in a fourfold suitable form it fitted men (it was not considered easy to divide its folds with a belt). 4 The outer garment, the pallium, itself also quadrangular, was thrown back from both sides and knit around the neck in the bit of a buckle, and so rested on the shoulders.

        (1.2) 1 Its equivalent today is <what is worn by> the priests of Aesculapius, who has also become yours. This is the way the twin town close by used to dress, and wherever else in Africa there is a Tyrus. 2 But as soon as the urn of worldly lots swung around and the deity favoured the Romans, your twin town hastened to change on its own account.  Thus it wished to salute Scipio at his landing beforehand through its prematurely Roman attire.  3 To you, however, after the benefit of injustice, as to people who lost their antiquity but not their position, after the foul omens of Gracchus and the violent mockery by Lepidus, the threefold altars of Pompeius and the long delays of Caesar, when Statilius Taurus had erected your walls and Sentius Saturninus had solemnly inaugurated them, and since concord was pleasing, -- to you the toga was offered 4 O how far did it wander! From the Pelasgians it came to the Lydians and from the Lydians to the Romans, in order that it would cover the Carthaginians, starting from the shoulders of the higher people!

        (1.3) 1 From then on, your tunic is longer and you use a dividing belt to let it hang down. Likewise, you support the abundant flow of your now smooth gown, by gathering it in folds. And if any circumstance of class or dignity or time makes you wear other garments, you forget and even criticize the pallium, that used to be yours in all circumstances!

        2 Now personally I am not surprised by that, on account of an earlier parallel case. For the ram too (not the 'reciprocally horned, wool-skinned, testicle-dragging' animal of Laberius, but the war machine whose service it is to break walls), an instrument previously launched by none, is said to have been mobilised first of all by Carthage, 'keenest in pursuit of war', for the oscillatory work of pending violence, having realised the power of the engine by analogy of the anger of the beast that avenges itself with its head. 3 However, when the times of the mother country were drawing to a close and the now Roman ram dared confront the walls that once had been his own, the Carthaginians were suddenly stunned at the device, as if it were new and foreign. 'So much doth Time's long age avail to change'!

        This way the pallium is also no longer recognised.

 

(2.1) 1 Let us now draw upon another source, so that the Punic does not feel shame or grief amidst the Romans: certainly, changing clothing is a customary task of nature as a whole. It is, meanwhile, performed by this very world we press upon.

        2 Let Anaximander see to it if he thinks there are more worlds, let anyone else see to it, if he assumes one somewhere, near the Meropae, as Silenus babbles in Midas' ears (which are fit indeed for broader stories!). But even if Plato reckons there is a world of which this one is the image, even that world  must must likewise undergo change. 3 For if it is  a 'world,' it will consist of different substances and functions, parallel to the form of what the world is here. (For it is not 'world', if it is not otherwise like the world). Different things coming together are different because of change.

        4 In short, the discord of differences is unified by vicissitude. So it is by change that every world that is a corporate whole of different things and a mixture through vicissitudes exists.

        (2.2) 1 By all means our plot of ground looks different all the time, as is manifest to closed or even completely 'Homeric' eyes. 2 Day and night change in turn. The sun varies through yearly positions, the moon through monthly modulations. The orderly confusion of the stars at times causes something to set, at times to rise. Sometimes the ambient of the sky is clear and brilliant, sometimes it is cloudy and grey; or rain is pouring, with missiles that may come down with rain; or it eases off again and the weather brightens.

        3 Likewise the sea is notoriously unreliable: with the equally changing winds at times it seems trustworthy by its calmness, moderately moved by its undulation, and all of a sudden it is full of unrest by huge waves. 4 Likewise, if you look at the earth, that likes to dress according to the season, you would almost deny she is the same: you remember her in green when you see her in yellow, soon to witness her in white. 5 And this goes for all her other ornaments, for does anything not change shape? Backs of mountains run down, veins of sources banter, paths of rivers silt up.

        (2.3) 1 There even was a time that the whole earth changed and was covered by all the water that exists. Even today shell-fish and circular shells from the sea stay abroad in the mountains, craving to prove to Plato that even the steeper parts were flooded. 2 But by swimming out the earth changed and took on shape again, the same but different.

        3 Even now she locally changes her look, when a region incurs damage; when among the islands Delos is nothing anymore, and Samos is just a heap of sand, and the Sybille proves to be no liar; when land the size of Africa or Asia goes missing in the Atlantic; when a former part of Italy has been cut asunder through the battering Adriatic and Tyrrhenian seas, leaving the rest as Sicily; when the whole blow of this split causes the contentious confluence of brines to be whirled backwards in the narrow strait, and thus infects the seas with a novel vice: not that of spitting out wrecks but of devouring them.

        (2.4) 1 The mainland also suffers, both from heaven and from within itself. Look at Palestine. Where the river Jordan is the umpire of boundaries, there is now an immense wilderness: the country is deserted and the fields are barren. But towns there used to be of old, and there was a large population there, and the soil tended to obey. 2 Subsequently, now that God is censor and impiety has earned rains of fire, so much for Sodom and there is no Gomorrha anymore. All has turned into ashes and the soil is living its death along with the nearby sea.

        3 Due to a parallel cloud Etruria was also set ablaze in her ancient Vulsinii, a fact that should make Campania expect even more of her mountains, now that she has been bereaved of Pompeii. 4 But may this not happen! May Asia feel safe concerning the voracity of her soil as well. And may Africa have feared a chasm once and for all, now that she is expiated through the loss of a single camp. Many other similar catastrophes have renewed the look of the earth and shifted the location of places.

        (2.5) 1 War has also been able to bring about very much. But it is disagreeable to enumerate sad things, no less than changes of government: how many times did it change ever since Ninus, son of Belus, if Ninus really was the first to govern, as my pagan predecessors claim. 2 This is as far as the pen usually goes back among you: it is with the Assyrians, it seems, that world history opens up. We however, who always are reading divine histories, master the subject from the very birth of the world.

        (2.6) 1 But now I prefer enjoyable things, for these also undergo change. In a word, if anything was washed away by the sea, burnt down by heaven, swallowed by the earth, or chopped off by the sword, elsewhere a new loan returns that compensates for the loss.

        2 For at first, Earth, for the largest perimeter, was empty and void of people, and if any people had occupied some land, it existed all by itself. 3 So it decided to bring all into cultivation (once you grasp that at one place a mass flocks together, while deserting another place), to weed and explore all, so that, as if from grafts and sets, tribes might be planted from tribes, and towns from towns, all over the world.

        4 Swarms of plentiful peoples flew out. The Scythians caused the Persians to abound, the Phoenicians discharged into Africa, the Romans issued forth from the Phrygians, Chaldaean seed was brought to Egypt and, once it was transmitted from there, it became the Jews. 5 Likewise, the offspring of Hercules proceeded along with Temenus to occupy the Peloponnese; similarly the Ionians, Neleus' comrades, equipped Asia with new towns, and similarly the Corinthians fortified Syracuse with Archias.

        (2.7) 1 But antiquity now means little, if our own days are confronted with it. How much of the world has been changed in this period? How many towns have been produced or enlarged or refounded by the triple virtue of the current government? 2 Now that God favours so many Augusti at the same time, how many census lists have been transcribed, how many peoples cleaned up, how many orders given their former splendour, how many barbarians excluded? 3 Really, the earth is now the well-cultivated estate of this government. All aconites of enmity have been eradicated, the cactus and bramble of treacherous friendship have been torn out: the world is lovely, surpassing the orchard of Alcinous and the rosary of Midas. 4 If you praise this world in change, how can you disparage man?

 

(3.1) 1 Animals also change, not in dress but in form. And yet for the peacock its feathers form a dress, a festive dress at that: 2 one that has a deeper hue than all purple at its flowery neck, more golden than all edgings at its gleaming back, more fanning out than any stage robe where its tail lies down; many-coloured, parti-coloured, changing in colour; never itself, always different, although it is always itself when it is different, bound to change colour as often as it is moved.

        (3.2) 1 The snake too must be mentioned, though after the peacock; for this animal also exchanges what it has been allotted, namely its skin and its age. 2 For as soon as it senses the coming of old age, it wrings itself into a narrow spot, enters a hole and at once leaves its skin, being scraped smooth at the very threshold. Abandoning its slough right there, revived, it then snakes its way out. Along with its scales it shakes off the years.

        3 The hyena, if you look closely, is of an annual sex: it alternates between male and female. 4 I keep silent about the stag, that it also controls its own age: having fed on a snake and falling sick with its poison, it is rejuvenated.

        (3.3) 1 Then we have

the four-footed, slowly stepping, earthly, lowly, stubborn creature

Do you think I mean the Pacuvian tortoise? No, I don't. The line applies to another little animal as well, really one of medium size, but with a great name. 2 If you hear about a 'chameleon,' without any knowledge of it, you will fear something bigger than a lion. But once you come across one, generally in a vineyard, lying in its entirety under a vine foliage, you will laugh right away at the boldness of its name, which is Greek at that. For its body contains no moisture, unlike much smaller creatures.

        3 The chameleon lives through its skin. Its tiny head starts right at the back, for lack of a neck. This head is hard to move, but when looking around its little eyes protrude, no, they are turning points of light. 4 The creature is numb and sluggish, hardly raising from the ground, proceeding with effort, torpidly, trudging along, showing its step rather than taking it. Always fasting, it still does not faint, yawningly feeding itself, inflating itself to ruminate, drawing food from the wind.

        5 Nonetheless the chameleon also changes completely, even if it cannot do anything else. For although it has a colour of its own, as soon as it has approached something, it assumes its hue.  Only the chameleon has the gift of, as it is commonly called, 'playing with its hide.'

        (3.4) 1 Much needed to be said to arrive well-prepared at man. Whatever you regard as his beginnings, by all means he was naked and undressed when he was fashioned by his maker. It was only later that he grasped wisdom, prematurely, before he was entitled to it. 2 Then and there he hastened to cover the part of his new body not yet meant for shame: for the time being he veiled it with fig-leaves. Later, when he was exiled from his birthplace, because he had sinned, he was shown into the world, as if into a mine, clad in a skin.

        (3.5) 1 But these are mysteries not for all to know. Come, show us something of yours, a story told by the Egyptians, listed by Alexander, read by his mother, a story about the time of Osiris, when Ammon, rich in sheep, made his way to him from Africa. 2 Well, together with these people they allege that Mercury, having found delight in the softness of a casually stroked ram, skinned a little sheep, and attempting what the easy material suggested, he kept on tearing it and produced a thread. This he then weaved in the model of the pristine cord, which he had joined together from strips of bast. 3 You, however, have preferred to leave all arrangement of wool and disposition of looms up to Minerva, although there was a more diligent workplace with Arachne.

        (3.6) 1 Ever since there is cloth. I do not speak about the sheep from Miletus, Selge or Altinum, or the sheep for which Tarentum and Baetica are renowned, where they are coloured by nature, but what I say is that trees dress us too, and that the grassy parts of flax, initially green, when washed, turn white as snow.

        2 And it did not suffice to plant and sow for a tunic, if it had not also proved possible to fish for clothes. For fleeces also come from the sea, inasmuch as the finer shells of mossy woolliness are adorned with them.

        3 Furthermore is it not hidden that what the silk-worm (a species of worm), leads through the air, extending it more adroitly than the sundials of spiders, and then devours, is finally reproduced from its belly. Therefore, if you kill it, you can then roll off threads from its pupa.

        (3.7) 1 A so manifold produce of cloths was then followed by the talents of tailoring, which -- first by covering man wherever necessity had preceded, then by adorning, no, inflating him wherever ambition had come next -- promulgated the various forms of attire. 2 These are partly worn by individual peoples, not in common with the rest, but are also partly found everywhere, useful to all, as for instance this pallium. It is, to be sure, more Greek, but as far as the word is concerned, it belongs to Latium by now. With the word the dress was introduced.

        3 Consequently, the very man who sentenced the Greeks to be removed from town, but who as an old man had become instructed in their letters and language, this same Cato used to bare his shoulder at the time of his administration of justice, and so favoured the Greeks no less by wearing his pallium.

 

(4.1) 1 But now, if Romanity is to the benefit of all, why are you nonetheless inclined to the Greeks, even in less honourable matters? 2 Or if this is not the case, from where else in the world is it that in provinces that are better trained, adapted by nature rather for conquering the soil, there are exercises of the wrestling-school (thereby lasting into a bad old age and labouring in vain), and unction with mud, and wallowing in the dust, and living on a dry diet? 3 From where else is it that with some Numidians, who even wear their hair long due to horses, the barber comes close to the skin and just the crown remains exempt from the knife? Whence is it that with hairy and hirsute men the resin is so rapacious at the arse, the tweezers are so ravenous at the chin?

        4 It is a marvel that all this happens without the pallium! To it belongs this whole habit of Asia. What do you, Libya and Europe, have to do with athletic elegances when you do not know how to clothe them? Really, what is it like to use the Greek way in depilation rather than in dress?

        (4.2) 1 The transfer of clothing only approaches a fault if it is not convention that is changed, but nature. There is an important difference between the honour due to time and to religion. Let convention faithfully follow time, nature God.

        2 So the hero of Larissa caused a breach of nature by changing into a girl, he, the man who had been reared on the marrow of wild beasts (this, then, is how his name was composed, since his lips had not had a taste of breasts), the man who was taught by a coarse, wood-dwelling, monstrous teacher in a stony school! 3 One may willingly tolerate, in the case of a little boy, a mother's concern. But no doubt he was already covered with hair, no doubt he had already secretly proved himself a man to somebody, when he still put up with a woman's flowing robe, doing his hair, applying make-up, consulting the mirror, caressing his neck, effeminated as far as his ears by holes, as may still be seen in his bust at Sigeum.

        4 Certainly, later he is a warrior, for necessity restored his sex! There had been sounds from the battlefield, and arms had not been far off. 'Iron itself,' so it is said, 'attracts a man.' Anyway, if he had persisted in being a girl even after this incentive, he might as well have got married -- how about that for a change?!

        5  A monstrosity, then, he is, a double one: from a man he became a woman, and then from a woman a man, although neither the truth should have been denied, nor the deceit confessed. Either form of change was bad: the former ran counter to nature, the latter was against his safety.

        (4.3) 1 More degrading still were transfigurations in a man's attire due to lust rather than to some maternal fear. Nonetheless you adore that man who ought to make you feel ashamed, this 'club-arrow-hide-bearer', who exchanged the whole outfit expressed in his name for a woman's attire.

        2 So much then was granted to the Lydian secret mistress, that Hercules prostituted himself in Omphale, and Omphale in Hercules. 3 Where were Diomedes and the gory mangers now? Where Busiris and his sacrifice-burning altars? Where Geryon, the three-in-one? It was of their brains that Hercules' club still preferred to reek, when it was offended by ointments! 4 The blood, grown old by then, of Hydra and Centaurs was taken away from the arrows by a sharp-edged pumice, in order that after piercing monsters (o, insults of luxury!), the arrows could perhaps sew a wreath!

        5 Not even a sober woman or some sturdy maiden could have put her shoulders into the stripped skin of such a mighty beast, unless it was softened, smoothened, and freed from stench for a long time, as had been done, so I presume, in Omphale’s house, by means of balsam and fenugreek oil. 6 The mane too, I believe, had to put up with the comb, lest the tender neck would be infected with leonine scabies. The gaping mouth was stuffed with hair, the back teeth overshadowed by locks -- all of the animal's face would have roared against this outrage, if only it could! 7 Nemea, for one thing (if there is a spirit at that place) groaned: for it was then it realised that it had really lost its lion.

        8 What this Hercules looked like in Omphale's silken gown? This has already been indicated through the picture of Omphale in Hercules' hide!

        (4.4) 1 But there is something too about the man who earlier had come close to the Tirynthian, Cleomachus the boxer. Later at Olympia he underwent an unbelievable change, flowing from his male condition by being cut inside and outside his skin. 2 Well, he earns a crown amidst the Fullers of Novius and he has rightlybeen mentioned by the mime-writer Lentulus in his Catinenses!  3 Surely, just as he covered the traces of boxing-gloves with bracelets, so he replaced the coarse sportsman's wrap with some thin, loose-fitting garment.

        (4.5) 1 About Physco or Sardanapallus we must keep silent: if they were not remarkable for their lusts, no-one would know them as kings. 2 Yes, we must keep silent, lest even they start muttering about some of your Caesars, who are no less a disgrace, lest 'Doglike' constancy be given a mandate to denote a Caesar less pure than Physco, softer than Sardanapallus, a very 'Sub-Nero'!

        (4.6) 1 No less lukewarm, as far as changing clothes is concerned, is the power of vainglory, also in cases where virility is untouched. Every affect is heat, but when it is fanned into affectation, the fire of glory turns it into ardour.

        2 So there you have the great king who is ablaze with this fuel, a man smaller only than his glory. 3 He had conquered the Median people and was conquered by Median attire. Abandoning his triumphal mail, he descended into the trousers of his captives. His breast, sculpted with scaly signs, he covered with translucent texture and so stripped it bare, panting as it still was from the works of war, and through the ventilation of the silk (thought to have a softening effect) he extinguished it. 4 The Macedonian was not yet swollen in spirit enough, unless he had also been pleased by an even more inflated garb. But philosophers too, I think, affect something of this kind.

        (4.7) 1 For I hear that philosophy was also practised in purple. If a philosopher wears purple, then why not fine sandals? A Tyrian dress with any other footwear than golden -- that does not befit imitators of Greek manners.

        2 'But there was another one, who wore silk and walked around in brazen shoes!' Well, worthily so: in order that his bacchanalian attire might produce some clanging, he walked on cymbals! 3 But if at that time Diogenes were still barking from his barrel, he would not have trodden on him with muddy feet (the Platonic couches know what that is!). No, Diogenes would have taken the whole Empedocles down to the recesses of the Cloacinae. Thus the man who insanely considered himself a divinity would have saluted, as a god, first his sisters, then men.

        (4.8) 1 Such clothing therefore, that estranges from nature and modesty, deserves sharply fixing gazes, pointing fingers, and exposing nods. 2 Really, if with Menandrean luxury a man can be trailing a refined dress, may he hear close by the words the comic author heard: 'What is this madman spoiling a splendid cloak?'

        3 But now that the eyebrow of censorial watchfulness has disappeared, how much ground for criticism does the lack of distinction provide? 4 <You may see> freedmen in the attire of knights, slaves loaded with floggings in that of nobility, captives in that of freeborn, bumpkins in that of city dwellers, buffoons in that of men of the forum, citizens in that of soldiers. The corpse-bearer, the pimp, and the trainer of gladiators: they dress like you.

        (4.9) 1 Turn to women too. There you may see what Severus Caecina impressed on the Senate: matrons appearing in public without stoles. 2 Under the decrees of augur Lentulus, those who had dismissed themselves this way were punished as if for sexual misbehaviour, since the garment that was the witness and guard of dignity, had been felt to be an impediment to practice fornication and so had sedulously been moved into disuse by some women. 3 But now, committing lechery against themselves, making themselves more easily accessible, they have renounced the stole, the linen garb, the rustling bonnet, the hairy head-dress, yes, even the litters and portable chairs, in which they had been kept private and apart even in public.

        4 But some extinguish their proper lights, while others kindle lights that are not theirs. 5 Look at the whores, those market-places of public lusts, look at these 'rubbers' too, and even if you had better turn your eyes away from such infamies of publicly slaughtered chastity, yet just look from above and you will see they are matrons!

        (4.10) 1 And when the overseer of latrines fans her silken gown, and comforts with necklaces her neck that is less pure than the place itself, and uses bracelets (which, as parts of what was given to brave men, even matrons would indiscreetly have taken in possession) to insert her hands that are guilty of every shameful deed, and fits on her maculate leg a white or reddish shoe, then why do you not look at these garments?

        2 Or why do you not look at those other garments that in their novel dress falsely claim religion? For it is for entirely white clothing and for the sign of the head-band and the privilege of the bonnet that people are initiated into Ceres; it is for the opposite affection of dark dress and a gloomy covering upon the head, that people flee into the mountains of Bellona; and the (opportunity of) wrapping with a broader, purple tunic and of taking on a Galatic, red mantle commends Saturn (to others).

        3 When this pallium itself, more carefully arranged, with sandals in Greek fashion, flatters Aesculapius, how much more should you accuse it and press upon it with your eyes, as it is guilty of something that is simple and unaffected, but it is nonetheless superstition.

        4 However, as soon as it dresses this wisdom that rejects all vain superstitions, then without any doubt the pallium is august above all clothing of gods or goddesses, the priestly mark of distinction above all caps and tokens. 5 So lower your eyes, I counsel you, and show respect for what is the renouncer of, meanwhile, this one error of yours.

 

(5.1) 1 'But,' you will say, 'thus <we> move from the toga to the pallium?' Why not, if we also moved from diadem and sceptre? Did Anacharsis change otherwise, when he preferred philosophy to the kingship of Scythia? 2 Even if there are no signs of a change for the better, the dress has something that it brings about.

        3 First, as to the simple putting on of the pallium, it is absolutely not bothersome. 4 Indeed, there is no need of a specialist, who, the day before use, forms the plies at the beginning and leads them in pleats, assigning the whole formation of the contracted umbo to the custody of the pincers; who, at daybreak, having first shortened the tunic (which had better been woven at a moderate length!) with a belt, checks the umbo again and if anything has gone out of the track, rearranges it, lets a part of the garment hang down on the left, draws back from the shoulders the surrounding part (from which stem the foils), with its folds now ending, and leaving free the right shoulder piles it on the left shoulder yet again, with another mass of folds destined for the back, thereby imposing a burden upon the man.

        (5.2) 1 Now I will interrogate your conscience: how do you feel in a toga: dressed or oppressed? Is it like wearing clothes or bearing them? 2 If you deny, I will follow you home, and I will see what you hasten to do right after the threshold. No other garment is taken off with such relief as the toga!

        3 We say nothing about the shoes, that special torture of the toga, that most impure covering of the feet, and a false one too. For who would not be better off stiffening barefoot in heat or cold, than fetter-footed in shoes? 4 Sure, a great support for walking has been foreseen by Venetian shoemaker-workshops in the form of effeminate boots!

        (5.3) 1 But there is nothing so convenient as the pallium, even if it is double, as that of Crates. On no occasion there is a waste of time in dressing, for all the effort it takes consists in loosely covering oneself. 2 This may be done in one circumjection, that is on no occasion beyond human power: all of man is covered at once. It may willingly leave the shoulder bare or include it; for the rest it rests on the shoulder, holding up nothing around, tying nothing around, not caring whether the folds are reliable; it is easily arranged and easily rearranged; even when it is taken off, it is not handed over to some rack. 3 If any undergarment is worn beneath it, the torture of a belt is absent. If any footwear is put on, it is of the purest form, or the feet remain bare, which keeps them more virile than in shoes.

        (5.4) 1 So much in defence of the pallium, in so far as you libelled it by name. But now it makes an appeal on account of its activity.

        2 'I owe nothing to the forum,' it says, 'nothing to the Campus Martius, nothing to the Senate-house. I do not watch for a magistrate's function, do not occupy any platform for speakers, do not attend to the governor's office; I do not smell the gutters, nor adore the bar in court, nor wear out benches, nor disturb proceedings, nor bark pleas; I do not act as a judge, a soldier, or a king: I have withdrawn from public life. 3 My only activity concerns myself; I do not have any care, except for this: to have no care. A better life can be enjoyed in seclusion than out in the open.

        4 Oh, you will denounce it for laziness, for "one has to live for one's fatherland, empire, and state"! But the following thought <also> used to count: "no-one is born for another, being destined to die for oneself." 5 By all means, when we come to the Epicuruses and Zeno's, "wisdom" is your qualification for all these teachers of retreat, which they sanctified with the name of the highest and unique pleasure.

        (5.5) 1 However, to some extent it will also be possible for me to be of public benefit. At every threshold or altar I am used to commend moral medicines, which more easily confer good health upon public affairs, states and empires than whatever you do. 2 For if I may proceed to deliver sharp words against you,

more harm has been brought upon the state by togas than by cuirasses.

        3 Indeed, I do not flatter any vices, do not spare any old dirt or any scab. I apply the branding-iron to the desires that induced M. Tullius to buy a round table of citrus-wood for 500,000 sestertii, that induced Asinius Gallus to dispense twice this price for a table from the same Mauretania -- gosh, at what huge sums did they estimate those blotches in wood! --, and that likewise induced Sulla to have dishes constructed of a hundred pounds. 4 But I really fear the scales here will be small, when Drusillanus (although merely a slave of Claudius), is fabricating a plate of five hundred pounds. Maybe this was indispensable for the tables mentioned above... If they built a workshop for it, so they ought to have built a dining-room too.

        (5.6) 1 I equally drive the lancet into the harshness that induced Vedius Pollio to throw his slaves before the murenas to feed on. What a novel delight of cruelty: terrestrial animals without teeth, claws, or horns! 2 Forcing fish to become wild beasts, this is what he wanted, and of course the fish was to be cooked straight away, so that in their entrails he himself might have a taste of his slaves' bodies too.

        3 I will put my knife into the gluttony that first induced Hortensius the orator to be able to kill a peacock for the sake of food; that first induced Aufidius Lurco to blemish bodies by stuffing them and to endow them with a false taste by means of packed foodstuff; that induced Asinius Celer to purchase the victuals of a single mullet for six thousand sestertii; that induced the actor Aesopus to use similarly precious birds (all singing and speaking species!) to stock up a dish of 100,000 sestertii; that induced his son, after such a delicacy, to be able to desire something costlier still. 4 For he ingested pearls (expensive even by name), I believe lest he enjoyed more of a beggar's dinner than his father.

        (5.7) 1 I say nothing about Neros, Apiciuses, and Rufuses. I will administer a laxative to the impurity of Scaurus, the dice of

Curius, the drunkenness of Antonius. And mind you: these were merely a few toga-wearers out of many, the sort of men you will not easily find with the pallium. 2 This purulence of the state -- who will draw it forth and cleanse it, except a sermon dressed in the pallium?

 

(6.1) 1 "With speech," it is said, "the wisest of medicines, you convinced me." 2 Yes, but even when articulation rests, either reduced by lack of eloquence or withheld by diffidence (for life is content even with a tongueless philosophy), the very dress speaks aloud! Thus, then, a philosopher is audible as long as he is visible. 3 Just by showing up I make vices feel embarrassed. Who does not suffer in witnessing his rival? Whose eyes can withstand a person whom his mind could not? It is a great benefit of the pallium, when just the thought of it makes bad morals blush at least.

        (6.2) 1 Now let philosophy see of what use she is. For with me she is not the only one; I have other arts that are of public benefit! 2 I dress the first teacher of letters, the first unraveller of the voice, the first sandman of numbers, the grammarian, the rhetor, the sophist, the doctor, the poet, the maker of music, the observer of what is starred, the watcher of what is winged. All liberality of arts is covered by my four tips.

        3 These stand below the Roman knights, certainly. But take all ignominy of the master of fighting and the gladiators: they perform in toga! This then, surely, will be the outrage in the maxim "from toga to pallium"!'

        4 But these are words of the pallium. I will go further and also grant it communication with that divine sect and discipline! 5 Rejoice, pallium, and exult! A better philosophy has deigned you worthy, from the moment that it is the Chrístian whom you started to dress.


This translation from: Tertullian, De Pallio, a commentary by Vincent Hunink, J.C. Gieben, publisher, Amsterdam 2005; ISBN 90 5063 439 7; [332 p], by permission of the author and publisher.

To order the book, check: www.tte.nl/gieben/ (or contact: J.C. Gieben publisher, Entrepotdok 72 B, 1018 AD AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS). For further information please contact the author at www.vincenthunink.nl

This translation of Tertullian’s de Pallio may not be added to websites or otherwise be made available without these references to the book, the publisher, and the author.


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