The article contributes to recent debates about the use of “profane learning” by humanist scholars in the sixteenth century in their sermons and religious polemic. It does this by surveying the use of references in such texts to the braggart soldier “Thraso” from the ancient Roman comedy Eunuchus, by Terence. The article situates the surprising number of references to this morally dubious figure—in sermons, polemic and wider religious writing—within a Renaissance pedagogy that stressed the character’s usefulness for the moral and political imagination. Identifying differences between the rhetorical contexts of sermons and polemic, it surveys and analyses a range of references to Thraso, and argues that even evocations of such a resolutely hateful figure as Thraso could vary in comic tone. In addition, such evocations were not only simple quotations or epithets; they could also be attempts to channel whole scenes from Terence’s play.