XVII. (1.102) These things then, and other things of the same kind, may be urged in reply to those assertors of the literal sense of a passage; and who superciliously reject all other explanations. We will now, in accordance with the usual laws of allegorical speaking, say what is becoming with respect to these subjects. We say, therefore, that a garment here is spoken of symbolically, to signify speech; for clothes keep off the injuries which are wont to visit the body, from cold and heat, and they also conceal the unmentionable parts of nature, and moreover, a cloak is a fitting garment for the body. (1.103) In much the same manner, speech has been given to man by God, as the most excellent of gifts; for in the first place, it is a defensive weapon against those who would attack him with innovations. For as nature has fortified all other animals with their own appropriate and peculiar means of defence, by which they are able to repel those who attempt to injure them, so also has it bestowed upon man that greatest defence and most impregnable protection of speech, with which, as with a panoply, every one who is completely clothed, will have a domestic and most appropriate bodyguard; and employing it as a champion, will be able to ward off all the injuries which can be brought against him by his enemies. (1.104) In the second place, it is a most necessary defence against shame and reproach; for speech is very well calculated to conceal and obscure the faults of men. In the third place, it conduces to the whole ornament of life: for this is the thing which improves every one, and which conducts every one to what is best; (1.105) for there are many disgraceful and mischievous men, who take conversation as a pledge, and deprive its proper owners of it, and utterly cut off what they ought to seek to increase; like men who ravage the lands of their enemies, and who attempt to destroy their corn and all the rest of their crops, which, if it were left unhurt, would be a great advantage to those who would use it. (1.106) For some men carry on an irreconcilable and never-ending war against rational nature, and utterly extirpate its every shoot and beginning, and destroy all its first appearances of propagation, and render it, as one may say, utterly unproductive and barren of all good practices. (1.107) For sometimes, when it is borne onwards towards sacred instruction with irresistible impetuosity, and when it is smitten with a love of the speculations of true philosophy, they–out of jealousy and envy, fearing lest, when it has derived strength from its noble aspirations and has been elevated to a splendid height, it may overwhelm all their petty cavils and plausible devices against the truth, like an irresistible torrent–turn its energy in another direction by their own evil artifices, guiding it in another channel to vulgar and illiberal acts: and very often they seek to blunt it or to hedge it in, and in this way leave the nobility of its nature uncultivated, just as at times wicked guardians of orphan children have rendered a deep-soiled and fertile land barren. And these most pitiless of all men have not been restrained by shame from stripping the man of his only garment, namely, speech; “For,” says the scripture, “it is his only covering.”–What is a man’s only covering, except speech? (1.108) For, as neighing is the peculiar attribute of a horse, and barking of a dog, and lowing of an ox, and roaring of a lion, so also is speaking, and speech itself, the peculiar property of man: for this is what man has received above all other animals as his peculiar gift, as a protection, a bulwark, and panoply, and wall of defence; he being, of all living creatures, the most beloved of God.