Cyprian - Epistle LX. To Euchratius, About an Actor
Argument.-He Forbids an Actor, If He Continue in His Disgraceful Calling, from Communicating in the Church.
Neither Does He Allow It to Be an Excuse for Him, that He Himself Does Not Practice the Histrionic Art,
So Long as He Teaches It to Others;
Neither Does He Excuse It Because of the Want of Means,
Since Necessaries May Be Supplied to Him from the Resources of the Church;
If he cannot be silenced:
And Therefore, If the Means of the Church There are Not Sufficient, He Recommends Him to Come to Carthage.
1. Cyprian to Euchratius his brother, greeting. From our mutual love and your reverence for me you have thought that I should be consulted, dearest brother, as to my opinion concerning a certain actor, who, being settled among you,
still persists in the discredit of the same art of his; and as a master and teacher, not for the instruction, but for the destruction of boys, that which he has unfortunately learnt he also imparts to others: you ask whether such a one ought to communicate with us.
This, I think, neither befits the divine majesty nor the discipline of the Gospel, that the modesty and credit of the Church should be polluted by so disgraceful and infamous a contagion. For since, in the law, men are forbidden to put on a woman's garment, and those that offend in this manner are judged accursed,
how much greater is the crime, not only to take women's garments, but also to express base and effeminate and luxurious gestures, by the teaching of an immodest art.
2. Nor let any one excuse himself that he himself has given up the theatre, while he is still teaching the art to others. For he cannot appear to have given it up who substitutes others in his place,
and who, instead of himself alone, supplies many in his stead; against God's appointment,
instructing and teaching in what way a man may be broken down into a woman, and his sex changed by art
Note 1 [In the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, to the disgrace of the pontifical court, the fine music is obtained by recourse to this expedient, inflicted upon children.]
and how the devil who pollutes the divine image may be gratified by the sins of a corrupted and enervated body.
Chalal (h2490) khaw-lal'; a prim. root [comp. 2470]; prop. to bore, i. e. (by impl.) to wound, to dissolve; fig. to profane (a person, place or thing), to break (one's word), to begin (as if by an "opening wedge"); denom. (from 2485) to play (the flute): - begin (* men began), defile, * break, defile, * eat (as common things), * first, * gather the grape thereof, * take inheritance, pipe, player on instruments, pollute, (cast as) profane (self), prostitute, slay (slain), sorrow, stain, wound.
But if such a one alleges poverty and the necessity of small means, his necessity also can be assisted among the rest who are maintained by the support of the Church;
if he be content, that is, with very frugal but innocent food. And let him not think that he is redeemed by an allowance to cease from sinning, since this is an advantage not to us, but to himself. See Didache and Calvin on feeding teachers.
What more he may wish he must seek thence, from such gain as takes men away from the banquet of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,
and leads them down, sadly and perniciously fattened in this world, to the eternal torments of hunger and thirst; and therefore, as far as you can, recall him from this depravity and disgrace to the way of innocence, and to the hope of eternal life, that he may be content with the maintenance of the Church, sparing indeed, but wholesome.
But if the Church with you is not sufficient for this, to afford support for those in need, he may transfer himself to us, and here receive what may be necessary to him for food and clothing, and not teach deadly things to others without the Church, but himself learn wholesome things in the Church. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.
The Apostolic Constitutions recognized the effeminate nature of theatrical performance and the commercial connection:
(1) come, whether it be man or woman, or charioteer, or dueller, or racer, or player of prizes, or Olympic gamester, or one that plays on the pipe, on the lute, or on the harp at those games, or a dancing-master or an huckster,
(2) either let them leave off their employments, or let them be rejected. If a soldier come, let him be taught to "do no injustice, to accuse no man falsely, and to be content with his allotted wages:"
(3) if he submit to those rules, let him be received; but if he refuse them, let him be rejected. He that is guilty of sins not to be named, a sodomite, an effeminate person, a magician, an enchanter, an astrologer, a diviner, an user of magic verses, a juggler, a mountebank, one that makes amulets, a charmer, a soothsayer, a fortune-teller, an observer of palmistry; he that, when he meets you, observes defects in the eyes or feet of the birds or cats, or noises, or symbolical sounds:
let these be proved for some time, for this sort of wickedness is hard to be washed away; and if they leave off those practices, let them be received; but if they will not agree to that, let them be rejected. Let a concubine, who is slave to an unbeliever, and confines herself to her master alone, be received;