Man dominates nature

A destructive relationship

Sometimes man seems to overcome nature, paying no attention to natural life. Considering only his needs, man becomes more and more destructive for the planet, and this is especially evident nowadays, when a lot of environmental issues come to general attention. From the global warming consequences to pollution, every day we face the destructive action of man against nature. Maybe it could be surprising that the problem was well known since the ancient age (1st. century a.D.), as the reflection of Pliny the Elder let us understand. In his encyclopedic work named Naturalis Historia, he was probably the first one to write about this theme, both as a scientist and a writer.

Even nowadays, many artists draw their inspiration from nature and fight to preserve the environment; one of the most famous is Ludovico Einaudi, a well-known contemporary pianist who played Elegy for the Arctic in June 2016 near the Svalbard Islands, in the middle of Norvegian sea. He performed upon a floating platform, near a glacier. His aim was to ask for protection for the Arctic: music suggests that men do not respect nature, recalling the same idea expressed by Pliny.

Ludovico Einaudi Elegy for the Artic
  • 14 AD
    Tiberius Emperor (14-37)
  • 23 AD
    Pliny was born in Como
  • 35 AD
    Plinio stays in Rome to be educated by Publio Pomponio who passed down to Plinio the love for knowledge
  • 37 AD
    Caligola Emperor (37-41 AD)
  • 41 AD
    Claudio Emperor (41-54 AD)
  • 54 AD
    Nerone Emperor (54-68 AD)
  • 64 AD
    Fire of Rome
  • 66 AD
    Beginning of the First Jewish Revolt
  • 68 AD
    Pliny backed Vespasian
  • 68 AD
    Civil War.
  • 69 AD
    Vespasian Emperor (69-79 AD)
  • 77 AD
    Naturalis Historia
  • 79 AD
    Pliny dies while trying to save people and to watch the eruption closer

NATURALIS HISTORIA 18.1

Quoniam tamen ipsa materia accedimus ad reputationem eiusdem parientis et noxia: nostris eam criminibus urguemus nostramque culpam illi inputamus. Genuit venena. Sed quis invenit illa prae- ter hominem? Cavere ac refugere alitibus ferisque satis est. atque cum arbore exa- cuant limentque cornua elephanti et uri, saxo rhinocerotes, utroque apri dentium sicas, sciantque ad nocendum praeparare se animalia, quod tamen eorum excepto homine et tela sua venenis tinguit?Nos et sagittas tinguimus ac ferro ipsi nocentius aliquid damus, nos et flumina inficimus et rerum naturae elementa, ipsumque quo vivitur in perniciem vertimus (...)

Lectio Ecclesiastica (Italian Group)
Since, however, through the very discipline, we add to the consideration of the Mother herself also the faults, we accuse her for our crimes and we blame her for our negligence. Yes, she begat poisons. Nonetheless, who did find them besides men? For birds and beasts it is enough to be careful and flee and, even though elephants and aurochs rub and sharpen their tusks on trees, rhinoceroses on rocks and, in the same way, boars make dagas from their fangs, the other animals well know that they gird themselves to harm; still, which one of them, be- sides men, dips its weapons in poison, too? We poison arrows and cause the iron itself to become something more noxious; also, we infect rivers and natural elements, and we spoil the air itself, which we need to live.

COMMENTARY

Pliny believes that men and animals relate with nature in different ways. In fact, even though animals can be harmful for each other, and then damage nature, they do it in order to survive, in a non-destructive way. In the text the author underlines his point of view using adversative conjunctions and strengthening words meaning, in order to emphasize that all animals create damages to nature in their own way, but their damages still follow the natural rules.

Mosaics, Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina, 4th century. In the first mosaic a hunter is killing an exotic animal, which seems to be a leopard or a cheetah, while he is riding a horse.

Mosaics, Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina, 4th century. In the first mosaic a hunter is killing an exotic animal, which seems to be a leopard or a cheetah, while he is riding a horse.

Ancient Roman Music was usually used for celebration or, with a few instruments, for the battle. Ancient woodwinds, strings and percussions were used to accompany dance or ritual. Other instruments were for example chitara, lyre, horn and some types of drums. The recreation of melody and instruments are based on philological studies and ar- chaeological discoveries.

Ancient Roman Music- Synaulia II

NATURALIS HISTORIA 33.1

Metalla nunc ipsaeque opes et rerum pretia dicentur, tellurem intus exquirente cura multiplici modo, quippe alibi divitiis foditur quaerente vita aurum, argentum, electrum, aes, alibi deliciis gemmas et parietum lignorumque pigmenta, alibi temeritati ferrum, auro etiam gratius inter bella caedesque. persequimur omnes eius fibras vivimusque super excavatam, mirantes dehiscere aliquando aut intremescere illam, ceu vero non hoc indignatione sacrae parentis exprimi possit. imus in viscera et in sede manium opes quaerimus, tamquam parum benigna fertilique qua calcatur. (...) illa nos peremunt, illa nos ad inferos agunt, quae occultavit atque demersit, illa, quae non nascuntur repente, ut mens ad inane evolans reputet, quae deinde futura sit finis omnibus saeculis exhauriendi eam, quo usque penetratura avaritia.

Lectio Ecclesiastica (Italian Group)
We are now going to deal with mines and with the wealth itself, as well as with the values of things, carefully searching for them down into the earth in several ways; as a matter of facts, somewhere they dig for riches, having a life striving for gold, silver, electrum and bronze; somewhere else, they extract, for luxury, precious stones and pigments for walls and painting; for recklessness, in another place they extract iron, which is appreciated even more than gold for war and slayings. We explore all of nature’s lodes and we live above a pierced area, amazed that it tears apart or quakes every now and then, as this couldn’t possibly derive from the resentment of our holy Mother. We penetrate into her bowels and we find resources in the abode of the Mani’s as if the earth were a little favorable and fruitful where it is stressed. Those things kill us, they take us to the Underworld, those things that the Earth has hidden and buried, those which do not come into the world all of a sudden, therefore our mind, diving in the void, considers which will eventually be the future deadline for all ages when we will exhaust nature, up until greed will shove.

COMMENTARY

The author describes the destructive relationship between men and nature and highlights their behaviour toward its resources and ecosystem as if they wanted to dominate and manipulate it according to their desire. As evidence of this fact, it can be noticed how the author uses a lexicon which mainly focuses on the semantic field of generation and destruction. He also writes with anaphoric constructs to help the reader better focus on the concept. Within the text some aspects from classical culture can be identified, as well: for instance, nature being considered mater, a mother. A famous reference lies in the Homeric Hymns, where the earth is sung as a universal mother, the highest representation of life. Another important aspect is the symbolism of the holiness hidden in nature, which, unlike nowadays, had an absolute impor- tance in ancient times. Another connection with classical culture can be made with the religious theme of Hades.

Mosaics, Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina, 4th century Two men are loading some African animals onto a ship, probably to take them to Rome and show them theatres and amphitheaters.

Mosaics, Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina, 4th century Two men are loading some African animals onto a ship, probably to take them to Rome and show them theatres and amphitheaters.