Kerill O’Neil presented to us on “Huam/Nature in Antiquity,” and I found it very interesting to put our ongoing discussion in the context that Professor O’Neil provided. At Colby many of us are conscious of the environment, and when we aren’t swamped by work maybe even take the time to think about how our actions impact the environment. Maybe a cliché example would be saying that saving energy saves polar bears. Especially when able to view nature from afar, the polar bear takes on endearing qualities and a relative cuteness that would not be found if one was actively hunting you in the Arctic. In antiquity, there was a similar idea of loving nature, but polar bears and baby seals were Nymphs, and as O’Neil said, various gods stood in for GreenPeace. Even before massive statistical models and today’s science, humans knew their potential for have negative impacts on the environment.
Human as part of nature and dominating nature, was also seen through the lenses of hunting and magic. As a way to win favor from others and pursue the activities of gods, hunting was depicted as heroic according to O’Neil. Thinking of this sparked a slightly off topic thought that I had about pieces in the news recently, where hunters say that money they pay for permits which goes towards conservation actually outweighs the cons of taking one life of that species. And this is an interesting dynamic in terms of ‘saving’ nature for our own sport or pleasure.