Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times (Part 1)

Greek thought was closely connected and respectful to nature, they thought of nature as:

  • An “internal property rather than a physical territory.”
  • A “principle and process rather than a material entity.” (23)

The first prominent vegetarian was a Greek: Pythagoras.

  • He believed that eating meat was of “lowly savagery” according to a hierarchical theory of evolution.  Therefore, just because we can does not mean that we should.
  • Delving into a mindful consciousness, Pythagoras theorized that humans should only eat foods that you can harvest from a plant without destructing the plant itself.  (29)
  • Lets not forget this was some 500 years BC.

Most all of the Greek Gods and deities were linked to nature is some way.  Especially pleasing was Gaia, the Goddess of the earth.  Its fun, though maybe too utopic and idealistic, to imagine the masses worshipping Gaia– life would be very different.  In these 6th century BC Gaian societies, they believed that “all forms of life are intelligent, posses souls and vital interests.”  (34)  Here it is understandable how the vegetarianism came into consciousness.

Alas, this couldn’t last forever.  Arguably a huge turning point in Greek history occurred when pre-Hellenistic earth-goddess religion and “humankind”  was transformed into “mankind” by the patriarchal European barbarians.  (30)

Another fascinating point Coates describes is that Greek and Roman hunting was considered one of the “greatest expressions of awe and affection for wild places.” (37)  However, thoughts and beliefs changed to compensate for the Roman gladiators.  These stats are so outrageous that I have to mention them, there were over 9,000 animals (and men?)  massacred in 100 days at some point and 5,000 massacred in just one day.  ONE DAY!  –The “Banality of evil.”

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