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Chapter X.—If the Female Virgins are to Be Thus Conspicuous, Why Not the Male as Well?

Nor, similarly, (is it permitted) on the ground of any distinctions whatever.  Otherwise, it were sufficiently discourteous, that while females, subjected as they are throughout to men, bear in their front an honourable mark of their virginity, whereby they may be looked up to and gazed at on all sides and magnified by the brethren, so many men-virgins, so many voluntary eunuchs, should carry their glory in secret, carrying no token to make them, too, illustrious.  For they, too, will be bound to claim some distinctions for themselves—either the feathers of the Garamantes, or else the fillets of the barbarians, or else the cicadas of the Athenians, or else the curls of the Germans, or else the tattoo-marks of the Britons; or else let the opposite course be taken, and let them lurk in the churches with head veiled.  Sure we are that the Holy Spirit could rather have made some such concession to males, if He had made it to females; forasmuch as, besides the authority of sex, it would have been more becoming that males should have been honoured on the ground of continency itself likewise.  The more their sex is eager and warm toward females, so much the more toil does the continence of (this) greater ardour involve; and therefore the worthier is it of all ostentation, if ostentation of virginity is dignity.  For is not continence withal superior to virginity, whether it be the continence of the widowed, or of those who, by consent, have already renounced the common disgrace (which matrimony involves)?309309    See 1 Cor. vii. 5.  Comp. ad Ux., l. i. c. viii.; de Ex. Cast., c. i.  For constancy of virginity is maintained by grace; of continence, by virtue.  For great is the struggle to overcome concupiscence when you have become accustomed to such concupiscence; whereas a concupiscence 34the enjoyment whereof you have never known you will subdue easily, not having an adversary (in the shape of) the concupiscence of enjoyment.310310    So Oehler and others.  But one ms. reads “concupiscentiæ fructum” for “concupiscentiam fructus;” which would make the sense somewhat plainer, and hence is perhaps less likely to be the genuine reading.  How, then, would God have failed to make any such concession to men more (than to women), whether on the ground of nearer intimacy, as being “His own image,” or on the ground of harder toil?  But if nothing (has been thus conceded) to the male, much more to the female.


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