Clement of Alexandria (c. 200 A.D.)

Clement of Alexandria
Clement was the head of the Christian school in Alexandria at the height of learning and science in Greco-Roman Egypt. Clement was classically trained by the finest Greek instructors of the second century A.D. 

Clement's pursuit of philosophy led him to Christianity. In an age of persecution, he boldly exhorted his fellow believers to embrace the beautiful truths of the Christian faith. 

Clement wrote about healthy, merry living as a Christian in a non-Christian society, drawing on all the wisdom of his day, because he understood virtuous living to be prerequisite for understanding the mysteries of Christian religion. 

Clement has whole chapters dedicated to healthy living in his work, Paedagogus (The Instructor). These quotes are an interesting insight into the ancient understanding of nutrition:

Eat to live – “Some men live to eat, which is irrational; but the Instructor [Jesus] enjoins us to eat that we may live. For neither is food our business, nor is pleasure our aim; but both are on account of our life here, which the Word is training up to immortality.”

On emasculated breads – “They emasculate plain food, namely bread, by straining off the nourishing part of the grain, so that the necessary part of food becomes matter of reproach to luxury.”

On too many sweets – “There is no limit to epicurism among men. For it has driven them to sweetmeats, and honey-cakes, and sugar-plums; inventing a multitude of desserts, hunting after all manner of dishes. A man like this seems to me to be all jaw, and nothing else.”

On eating, cont. – “The diet which exceeds sufficiency injures a man, deteriorates his spirit, and renders his body prone to disease… We are to partake of what is set before us, as becomes a Christian…”

On ointments – “Ointment is to be employed as a ... help in order to bring up strength when enfeebled, and against sinus congestion, fatigue, and depression, as the comic poet says: 'The nostrils are anointed; it being / a most essential thing for health to fill the brain with good odors.'”

On the usefulness of unguents – “‘Honor the physician for his usefulness,’ says the Scripture, ‘for the Most High made him; and the art of healing is of the Lord.’ Then he adds, ‘And the compounder of unguents will make the mixture,’ since unguents have been given manifestly for use, not for voluptuousness.” 

On the feet – “The rubbing of the feet with oil of warming or cooling unguents is practiced on account of its good effects.”

Value of health and abundance – “Health and abundance of necessaries keep the soul free and unimpeded, and capable of making good use of what is at hand. “For,” says the apostle [Paul; 1 Cor. 7:32, 35], “I want you to be free from promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

No comments:

Post a Comment