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Chapter XVII.—An Appeal to the Married Women.

But we admonish you, too, women of the second (degree of) modesty, who have fallen into wedlock, not to outgrow so far the discipline of the veil, not even in a moment of an hour, as, because you cannot refuse it, to take some other means to nullify it, by going neither covered nor bare.  For some, with their turbans and woollen bands, do not veil their head, but bind it up; protected, indeed, in front, but, where the head properly lies, bare.  Others are to a certain extent covered over the region of the brain with linen coifs of small dimensions—I suppose for fear of pressing the head—and not reaching quite to the ears.  If they are so weak in their hearing as not to be able to hear through a covering, I pity them.  Let them know that the whole head constitutes “the woman.”332332    1 Cor. xi. 6, etc.  Its limits and boundaries reach as far as the place where the robe begins.  The region of the veil is co-extensive with the space covered by the hair when unbound; in order that the necks too may be encircled.  For it is they which must be subjected, for the sake of which “power” ought to be “had on the head:”  the veil is their yoke.  Arabia’s heathen females will be your judges, who cover not only the head, but the face also, so entirely, that they are content, with one eye free, to enjoy rather half the light than to prostitute the entire face.  A female would rather see than be seen.  And for this reason a certain Roman queen said that they were most unhappy, in that they could more easily fall in love than be fallen in love with; whereas they are rather happy in their immunity from that second (and indeed more frequent) infelicity, that females are more apt to be fallen in love with than to fall in love.  And the modesty of heathen discipline, indeed, is more simple, and, so to say, more barbaric.  To us the Lord has, even by revelations, measured the space for the veil to extend over.  For a certain sister of ours was thus addressed by an angel, beating her neck, as if in applause:  “Elegant neck, and deservedly bare! it is well for thee to unveil thyself from the head right down to the loins, lest withal this freedom of thy neck profit thee not!”  And, of course, what you have said to one you have said to all.  But how severe a chastisement will they likewise deserve, who, amid (the recital of) the Psalms, and at any mention of (the name of) God, continue uncovered; (who) even when about to spend time in prayer itself, with the utmost readiness place a fringe, or a tuft, or any thread whatever, on the crown of their heads, and suppose themselves to be covered?  Of so small extent do they falsely imagine their head to be!  Others, who think the palm of their hand plainly greater than any fringe or thread, misuse their head no less; like a certain (creature), more beast than bird, albeit winged, with small head, long legs, and moreover of erect carriage.  She, they say, when she has to hide, thrusts away into a thicket her head alone—plainly the whole of it, (though)—leaving all the rest of herself exposed.  Thus, while she is secure in head, (but) bare in her larger parts, she is taken wholly, head and all.  Such will be their plight withal, covered as they are less than is useful.

It is incumbent, then, at all times and in every place, to walk mindful of the law, prepared and equipped in readiness to meet every mention of God; who, if He be in the heart, will be recognised as well in the head of females.  To such as read these (exhortations) with good will, to such as prefer Utility to Custom, may peace and grace from our Lord Jesus Christ redound:  as likewise to Septimius Tertullianus, whose this tractate is.


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