CHRISTIANITY and the ROMAN ARENA
A Clash of Cultures
Tertullian Apologeticus 15. 4-6 [A.D. 197/8] delivered to the Proconsul of the Province of Africa:
Tertullian, de spectaculis 9:
"Now as to the arts displayed in the Circus Games. Equestrian skill was a simple thing in the past, mere horseback riding. In any case there was no guilt in the ordinary use of the horse. But when the horse was brought into the Games, it passed from being God's gift into the service of demons. So to Castor and Pollux is dedicated this kind of exhibition, the pair of gods to whom (according to the poet Stesichoros) horses were assigned by Mercury. But Neptune also has to do with horses; he is called Poseidon Hippios among the Greeks. When they harness the horses, the four-horse chariot is consecrated to the Sun, the two-horse chariot to the Moon. But then, again,
King Erechthonius it was who first
(Vergil Georgics III. 113).
Erechthonius, a son of Minerva and Vulcan, offspring of lust who fell to earth, is himself a demon-monster–no, a devil himself, not a snake. If indeed Trochilus the Argive is the inventor of the first chariot, he dedicated that work of his to Juno. If at Rome Romulus was the first to display the four-horse chariot, he is enrolled among the idols himself, if he and Quirinus are the same. Such being the inventors who produced them, chariots very properly have their drivers clad in the colors of idolatry. For at first there were only two colors: white and red. White is sacred to Winter, for the gleaming white of the snow, red to the Summer because of the Sun's redness. Later, as pleasure and superstition gained ground together, some dedicated the red to Mars, others the white to the Zephyrs, the green to Mother Earth (or Spring), the blue to Sky and Sea (or Autumn). But since idolatry in every form has been condemned by God, that form also is certainly condemned which is consecrated to the elements of nature."
Tertullian, de spectaculis 16:
John Paul Adams, CSUN