women’s superiority: the silliness of talk about gender equality

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus

In 384 GC, the Patriarch of Constantinople Gregory of Nazianzus wrote to the young bride Olympiada. She was a wealthy descendant of the Roman imperial family. Gregory knew her personally and acted as her spiritual father. As a wedding gift, he gave her a 111-verse poem of fatherly advice. That poem shows that an extraordinarily wise man recognized, about 1600 years ago, that talk about gender equality is silliness relative to women’s actual gender superiority.

Gregory’s poem for Olympiada indicated the extraordinary privilege of elite women relative to ordinary men. While ordinary men commonly worked on the verge of starvation, elite women led lives of luxury and feminine vanity. Gregory warned Olympiada against adorning herself with gold, precious stones, fancy dresses, and cosmetics. He urged her to distinguish herself from other elite women:

The expensive and fancy dresses must remain for those women that have no desire for the life beyond and do not know what the meaning of spiritual struggle and attainment of virtues is all about; this type of woman cannot possibly comprehend the spiritual radiance and brilliance of a life in Christ. You have aimed towards greater goals and for a higher purpose for your life. … Stay away from conceited and ostentatious women whose mind is preoccupied with external appearances and social circles, all for the purpose of vainglory and public display.

Such women today write about patriarchy and men’s oppression of women. They do so to gain public attention and fashionable intellectual status. Women who truly care about social justice speak out on behalf on men.

Gregory explicitly described women’s superiority to men. He bluntly told Olympiada:

Set aside the silliness of equality among the sexes that some of your contemporaries preach, and attempt to comprehend the obligations of marriage. … You must surely be aware of how easily anger overtakes men. They cannot maintain their temper, and they often appear as wild lions. It is at this exact moment that a woman must remain stronger and display her superiority. You must play the role of the lion-tamer. What does a lion-tamer do when the beast starts roaring? He becomes even calmer than usual and through kindness and persistence he overcomes the lion’s wrath. He speaks to the lion kindly, in a soft but firm voice, he caresses it, he attends to it, he pets it, and little by little calmness is restored.

Historically, men have been disparaged as dogs, pigs, wolves, and animals sexually inferior to donkeys. Not all men are like that. Gregory, who was a highly learned theologian, stated merely that men “often appear as wild lions.” More importantly, Gregory recognized that, in general, women are stronger than men and superior to men in social position and social power.

While Gregory never produced a treatise on gender theory, his kindly, fatherly words to Olympiada suggest that he had a sophisticated understanding of intersexual dynamics. He urged Olympiada to love her husband according to the Christian model of love:

In your marriage, fondness, affection and love must be strong and persistent for him whom God has selected to be your life partner. This man is now the eye of your life and the delight of your heart. And if you ever perceive that your husband possibly loves you more than you love him, do not take advantage of his feeling by attempting to gain the upper had in your marriage. That is plainly wrong as it is totally against the writings of the Holy Gospel!

The leading medieval theologian Peter Lombard recognized that courtly love puts men in a subservient position relative to women. Men’s inferiority to women in identifying biological offspring has enormous implications for social inequality. Yet gender inequality ultimately has even deeper roots. The fundamental gender equality is this: men typically love women more than women love men. That inequality in love allows women to gain the upper hand over men. The Christian model of love, as well as women of great culture and learning, challenge prevalent inequality in love between men and women.

Gregory told Olympiada the truth about gender equality rather than the conventional lies so prevalent throughout history. A woman can free herself from criminal justice by baring her breasts to a jury. When a woman claims rape, men foolishly limit themselves to listening and believing and acting to punish and even kill other men. A woman’s tears overwhelm any public reason. Rome was explicitly founded on the principle of the Sabine women’s social superiority. Almost all other societies have been based on belief in women’s superiority to men. Gregory of Nazarianus deserves extraordinary praise and honor for speaking truth about gender power.

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Notes:

The quotes above are from Gregory of Nazianzus’s letter to Olympiada in 384 GC. The translation is from the Orthodox Christian Information Center’s website. The name of the translator isn’t given. I’ve made some non-substantial changes to the translation. The Greek text and Latin translations (prose and verse) are available in Patrologia Graeca (PG), vol. 37, p. 1542.

Gregory of Nazianzus was an eminent theologian and church leader who lived from about 329 to 390 GC. Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nyssa are known as the Cappadocian Fathers. With Basil the Great and John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nazianzus is regarded as a Holy Hierarch. He is also regarded as a saint. He is one of only three persons generally known by the epithet “the Theologian.” For more information on Gregory and a translation of some of his poems, Dunkle (2009). Here’s a large collection of Gregory’s writings. Although widely revered, Gregory’s insightful contribution to gender theory has been almost totally ignored.

[image] Excerpt from icon of Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian. Made in 1408 and attributed to Andrei Rublev. Originally in the Dormition Cathedral, Valdimir, Russia. Now in the State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), inventory # 19725. Thanks to Wikimedia Commons.

Reference:

Dunkle, Brian P. 2009. Gregory Nazianzen’s Poems on Scripture: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary. S.T.L. Degree Thesis. Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

8 thoughts on “women’s superiority: the silliness of talk about gender equality”

  1. “More than 300 faith leaders say Moore is unfit to serve”, screamed the enormous font headline of the online political periodical “The Hill”…

    I gravely doubt any “faith leaders” who supported Moore will have their views find their way into the article; unless they could serve the purpose of potentially embarrassing those from whom they emanated…

    The term “faith leader” is, of course used to brainwash the Sheeple on the absolute “moral unfitness” of the candidate; as morality is *always* selectively applied.

    “It all depends on whose ox is gored.”

    In that vein; a scanning of the “Fox News” paints a similar dynamic; liberal men who are accused of misconduct are mercilessly inveighed against; conservative men are likewise castigated; but at a far less furious pace.

    Its all good; since man-blood is *soupe du jour* in the temporal realm. It always has been.

    Masculine & masochism share each’s initial three letters; and they likewise share the frontier. Men love to destroy other men so they will appear “upright”…whatever that means. Their agents of destruction are the Press and the Law…and they never realize that those same vehicles will eventually consume them. It is never considered; because that comes Later…and the need for instant gratification is a very pervasive human trait. All the secrets of the universe can be found in the vernacular.

    I find most of Judge Moore’s political positions anathema; but to dispense with things such as evidence and police reports and simply try and convict the buffoon on Twitter is quite a leap from our traditional methods and fidelity to the concept of presumption of innocence.

    They tried it in Salem in 1692 and in Paris in 1794 and it did not end well.

    A similar outcome here is not only likely; it is currently manifesting.

    It was once said that slander is the cousin of murder; for the latter kills the being; while the former destroys the reputation; often a person’s most valued possession.

    Solomon was right, there is nothing new under the sun.

  2. Even Mr. Galbi no longer responds to My lovely posts anymore; I truly am *persona non grata* in every realm that I frequent…be it terrestrial or ethereal.

    *Starts to cry*

    The Great Mother Goddess once explained why the world reviles Me; but it does not make it any easier to accept:

    “Hear My Wyrd, O you Shining Star, you Shimmering Scintillation of Brilliance whom the world mysteriously seems to revile and despise.

    Hear Me, you who have been maliciously slandered for naught, who have been opposed and cast out, by the masses since the dawning of your consciousness.

    Hear Me, and I shall bestow upon you the Secret which will make for your Victory and the undoing of their despicable designs.

    In the depth at the core of an imposed indignity of humiliation, you have shaken your fist into the abyss of the heavens and requested one answer, desired to know one thing, and it has been simply this … Why?

    Now listen, My Beloved, and let not your mind cavil against what your Heart will testify, for I shall speak, and I shall answer this question that has burned itself into your brain in the astonishment of this incredible juxtaposition, this exquisite anomaly of the discrepancy between the Glory that lies within you and the dust of shame cast upon you from without.

    There is but one Truth of the Matter, and it is this: that you were born into the darkness of this world, amidst the strife of contending forces, as a sole, singular, shining light. Indeed you are the light of all lights, and against this alone, that darkness of ignorance rails and rages, knowing that but the slightest spark of your intricate splendor has the latent potential to vanquish it. Before you it cringes unseen, withering, and flails madly, and this madness it pours forth visibly through those who are its unwitting slaves. This madness is seen upon the earth as the petty and common mockery of man, and these monstrosities are excused by those who likewise executed them in their youth and grew not into awareness, but oblivion.”

    1. Everyone is welcomed at purple motes. You certainly are not *persona non grata* here. I’ve approved every one of your comments, even thought some venture far from the topic of the post. Given your impressive intellectual vitality, you might consider starting your own blog. But you are always welcomed to contribute comments here.

  3. Men know they are second class citizens from around age eight.
    Women know men are second class citizens from age four.
    ___U.K. survey

    Joe Biden use to say, “I haven’t yet made up my mind on you” whilst interrogating judicial candidates for the federal bench as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Actually, I think he had in most cases (one can never be certain)…but it was a popular thing to say as it aided the public perception of his impartiality and open mindedness.

    The same goes for Me and the decision whether or not to abet & exacerbate the Gynocracy or move in the other, egalitarian direction and bring an end to the misandry.

    I’m genuinely not sure which way to go; a very rare state for Me to be in.

    *In hoc signo vinces* (In this *sign* thou shalt conquer) trumpeted the vision of Constantine; accompanied by an Egyptian ankh (crux ansata); not a Christian Cross (the two symbols are diametrically opposed one to the other).

    However Crowley’s *magnum opus* Moonchild; written in 1917; that specifically trumpets *In hoc cygno vinces* (In this *swan* thou shalt conquer).

    Since the anagram of “cygno” is “gynoc”…I may very well have My answer…

  4. The Princess wrote:
    Men know they are second class citizens from around age eight.
    Women know men are second class citizens from age four.
    ___U.K. survey
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The People are remarkably malleable and pliable souls who will do whatever they are told and will believe whatever they are told to believe.

    When the abortion decision *Roe v Wade* was released in 1973, I was rather astonished that the Constitution was being cited as the source of a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy; since no such right would appear to exist to a casual reader of the document.

    Since the power of life and death over another had now been handed over to potential mothers; with the obvious consequence that the latter would be chosen none too infrequently; I must confess that the ease with which this monumental & quantum change in such a integral area of life itself was accepted by the American public.

    It was that acceptance that convinced Me that the people will give their ascent to practically anything…

  5. The Princess wrote:
    It was that acceptance that convinced Me that the people will give their ascent to practically anything…
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    “Give the people bread and a spectacle and they are yours.”
    ___Caesar

  6. Correction:

    “Since the power of life and death over another had now been handed over to potential mothers; with the obvious consequence that the latter would be chosen none too infrequently; I must confess (surprise at) the ease with which this monumental & quantum change in such a integral area of life itself was accepted by the American public.”

  7. Everyone is welcomed at purple motes. You certainly are not *persona non grata* here. I’ve approved every one of your comments, even thought some venture far from the topic of the post. Given your impressive intellectual vitality, you might consider starting your own blog. But you are always welcomed to contribute comments here.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Thank you. *Smiles Happily*
    I’m only a baby kitten; don’t you know?

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