Tertullian's "De Spectaculis"

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The great Christian writer Tertullian was born in Roman controlled Carthage, now known better as Tunisia. Around 200 AD he famously wrote De spectaculis, a work outlining the failing of the Roman moral system based around the gladiatorial games and the circus. Tertullian received a good education growing up and partook in “pagan” rituals such as sexual intercourse and observing the gladiatorial games. However, when the Roman Empire began executing Christians he felt compelled to become a Christian himself. Tertullian outlined clearly in his essay that the failing of the games lay in idolatry, and in the belief that ‘Thou shall not kill’. He writes this essay to compel all Christians to give up the games in order to gain favour in the eyes of their god. The problem so clearly outlined by Tertullian, is that Christians believe that if the bible does not directly argue against something, by default it is alright to do. Tertullian strongly disagrees saying that it is a waste of God’s creation and the belief that they can be of no offence to god is ignorant. He even outlines this by citing two of the Ten Commandments. Thou shall not kill, and thou shall not worship false idols. When it comes to the gladiatorial games, killing is obviously a major component, but many were confused on his views of idolatry. He states that by going to church we worship god. By going to the amphitheatre we are worshipping men. However, Tertullian was much more offended by the killing, and the martyrdom caused by the gladiatorial games. He stated in a satire that if we enjoy the spectacle of killing so much, then surely we will love the spectacle of the second coming of Christ. In which not only will all the sinful be killed, but damned for eternity. He al... ... middle of paper ... ... Roman morals in the eyes of early Roman Christians. By convincing them to repent and turn their back from the games he believes they can all be forgiven by god. While it is still up for debate whether his debates made any change on the views of the games, it is clear the Tertullian was strongly opposed to them. In his eyes “True” Christians would turn their backs to the games and try to turn non-Christian Romans with them as to save them from Judgement. Works Cited Tertullian : Read this first. Available at: http://www.tertullian.org/readfirst.htm [Accessed April 6, 2010]. Tertullian : De spectaculis. Available at: http://www.tertullian.org/works/de_spectaculis.htm [Accessed April 7, 2010]. Apology. De spectaculis. With an English transl... Available at: http://www.archive.org/stream/apologydespectac00tertuoft#page/268/mode/2up [Accessed April 8, 2010].

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