What is the source for Tertullian's “woman is a temple built over a sewer” quote?
The English translations seem to embellish the Latin translation somewhat. It can be found in Tertulliani de Cultu Feminarum: Liber I The quote is from the second paragraph.
In doloribus et anxietatibus paris, mulier, et ad uirum tuum conuersio tua et ille dominatur tui: et Euam te esse nescis? Viuit sententia Dei super sexum istum in hoc saeculo: uiuat et reatus necesse est. Tu es diaboli ianua; tu es arboris illius resignatrix; tu es diuinae legis prima desertrix; tu es quae eum suasisti, quem diabolus aggredi non ualuit; tu imaginem Dei, hominem, tam facile elisisti; propter tuum meritum, id est mortem, etiam filius Dei mori habuit: et adornari tibi in mente est super pelliceas tuas tunicas?
Obviously, Tertullian places the blame for man’s fall on Eve!
One English translation is as follows:
You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that (forbidden) tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert—that is, death—even the Son of God had to die. And do you think about adorning yourself over and above your tunics of skins? - On the Apparel of Women. Book I
Resignatrix is the phrase: “a fountain sealed” in Cant. iv. 12.
Diaboli ianua is clearly the gateway to the Devil.
I believe that the translation into English is taken from the above source.
The phrase, woman is a temple built over a sewer is a rather loose interpretation of the Latin tu es arboris illius resignatrix. No websites and I mean none give a source for this quote in their footnote whatsoever as to where to find this quote and as such one can be sceptical that such a phrase was actually written by Tertullian.
One site even claims it came from St. Augustine and once again does not give notes on where to locate it.
Robert Manning of Brunne also alliterated this sentiment by stating that if a man lay with his wife during times of penance they sin greatly. This attitude goes far to explain the unhealthy view of women. If making love to your wife, purely because you love her, is seen as wrong and dirty therefore are women seen as wrong and dirty also? The answer unfortunately is yes. St Augustine proclaimed that ‘women is a temple built over the sewer’. Thus claiming that although women may seem beautiful and pure, underneath they are as unclean and as filthy as a sewer. - Christ and the Church
Since no one can give proof that it was indeed Tertullian that is the source of the exact quote I deem it spurious.
I am not saying where it is because it can not be found. However it could possibly be found in the spurious works attributed to Tertullian. As such no one would like admitting that the source was in fact linked to a dubious source. In this case it would not be Tertullian who is at the origins of the quote.
There have been many works attributed to Tertullian in the past which have since been determined to be almost definitely written by others. Nonetheless, since their actual authors remain uncertain, they continue to be published together in collections of Tertullian's works.
Adversus Omnes Haereses (Against all Heresies) – poss. Victorinus of Pettau
De execrandis gentium diis (On the Execrable Gods of the Heathens)
Carmen adversus Marcionem (Poem against Marcion)
Carmen de Iona Propheta (Poem about the Prophet Jonas) – poss. Cyprianus Gallus
Carmen de Sodoma (Poem about Sodom) – poss. Cyprianus Gallus
Carmen de Genesi (Poem about Genesis)
Carmen de Judicio Domini (Poem about the Judgment of the Lord)
The popular Passio SS. Perpetuae et Felicitatis (Martyrdom of SS. Perpetua and Felicitas), much of it the personal diary of St. Perpetua, was once assumed to have been edited by Tertullian. That view is no longer held, and it is usually published separately from Tertullian's works. - Tertullian (Wikipedia)
In conclusion, it may be quite possible that Tertullian did not write what has now been translated into English as: ”Woman is a temple built over a sewer” The only alternative is a gross mistranslation as what one can see at beginning of this answer.