Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book I/Chapter 32
Chapter 32 [XVI.]—The Aprons Which Adam and Eve Wore.
For they did not use for themselves tunics to cover their whole bodies after their sin, but aprons, which some of the less careful of our translators have translated as “coverings.” And this indeed is true; but “covering” is a general name, by which may be understood every kind of clothing and veil. And ambiguity ought to be avoided, so that, as the Greek called them περιζώματα, by which only the shameful parts of the body are covered, so also the Latin should either use the Greek word itself, because now custom has come to use it instead of the Latin, or, as some do, use the word aprons, or, as others have better named them, wrestling aprons. Because this name is taken from that ancient Roman custom whereby the youth covered their shameful parts when they were exercised naked in the field; whence even at this day they are called campestrati, since they cover those members with the girdle. Although, if those members by which sin was committed were to be covered after the sin, men ought not indeed to have been clothed in tunics, but to have covered their hand and mouth, because they sinned by taking and eating. What, then, is the meaning, when the prohibited food was taken, and the transgression of the precept had been committed, of the look turned towards those members? What unknown novelty is felt there, and compels itself to be noticed? And this is signified by the opening of the eyes. For their eyes were not closed, either when Adam gave names to the cattle and birds, or when Eve saw the trees to be beautiful and good; but they were made open—that is, attentive—to consider; as it is written of Agar, the handmaid of Sarah, that she opened her eyes and saw a well, although she certainly had not had them closed before. As, therefore, they were so suddenly ashamed of their nakedness, which they were daily in the habit of looking upon and were not confused, that they could now no longer bear those members naked, but immediately took care to cover them; did not they—he in the open, she in the hidden impulse—perceive those members to be disobedient to the choice of their will, which certainly they ought to have ruled like the rest by their voluntary command? And this they deservedly suffered, because they themselves also were not obedient to their Lord. Therefore they blushed that they in such wise had not manifested service to their Creator, that they should deserve to lose dominion over those members by which children were to be procreated.
- Gen. iii. 7.
- Campestria, which, as Augustin explains, is derived from “campester,” and that from “campus.” See On the City of God, xiv. 17.
- i.e. “campestre-clad.”
- Gen. xxi. 19.