Clement of Alexandria


Clement of Alexandria's excerpt of the Paedagogus. 

"And how senseless, to besmear their hands with the condiments, and to be constantly reaching to the sauce, cramming themselves immoderately and shamelessly, not like people tasting, but ravenously seizing! For you may see such people, liker swine or dogs for gluttony thanmen, in such a hurry to feed themselves full, that both jaws are stuffed out at once, the veins about the face raised, and besides, the perspiration running all over, as they are tightened with their insatiable greed, and panting with their excess; the food pushed with unsocial eagerness into their stomach, as if they werestowing away their victuals for provision for a journey, not for digestion. Excess, which in all things is anevil, is very highly reprehensible in the matter of food."

In this translated text of the Paedagogus, Clement of Alexandria illustrates how hedonistically eating meat corrupts the moral principles of man. Meat makes a civilized man turn into a beast. The excerpt illustrates meat as a component that contributes to the overall gluttony of man. Clement of Alexandria uses demeaning diction to depict man as a beast, a substandard to a civilized human being. Meat, in this sense, neither has a nutritional function nor a identificational function; meat has a moral function and the abstinence of eating meat becomes a civil obligation. Clement of Alexandria also comments on the very specific ideals that each man must partake in to contribute to a more Christian-like lifestyle, as meat exposes the bodily passions and prevents us from drawing closer from the gods.

This idea is also relevant to Pythagoras' idea that meat disturbed a type of sanctity; meat disturbed the soul. Priests and other religious figures believed that animal flesh were unclean to the person consuming it.