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Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

Why Man is Destitute of Natural Weapons and Covering

Patrologia Graeca 44.140-4  * Greek Fonts

ELPENOR EDITIONS IN PRINT

UT what means the uprightness of his figure? and why is it that those powers which aid life do not naturally belong to his body? but man is brought into life bare of natural covering, an unarmed and poor being, destitute of all things useful, worthy, according to appearances, of pity rather than of admiration, not armed with prominent horns or sharp claws, nor with hoofs nor with teeth, nor possessing by nature any deadly venom in a sting,-things such as most animals have in their own power for defence against those who do them harm: his body is not protected with a covering of hair: and yet possibly it was to be expected that he who was promoted to rule over the rest of the creatures should be defended by nature with arms of his own so that he might not need assistance from others for his own security. Now, however, the lion, the boar, the tiger, the leopard, and all the like have natural power sufficient for their safety: and the bull has his horn, the hare his speed, the deer his leap and the certainty of his sight, and another beast has bulk, others a proboscis, the birds have their wings, and the bee her sting, and generally in all there is some protective power implanted by nature: but man alone of all is slower than the beasts that are swift of foot, smaller than those that are of great bulk, more defenceless than those that are protected by natural arms; and how, one will say, has such a being obtained the sovereignty over all things?

Διὰ τί γυμνὸς τῶν ἐκ φύσεως ὅπλων τε καὶ προκαλυμμάτων ὁ ἄνθρωπος

Ἀλλὰ τί βούλεται τὸ τοῦ σχήματος ὄρθιον; Τί δέ, οὐχὶ συμφυεῖς εἰσιν αἱ πρὸς τὸν βίον δυνάμεις τῷ σώματι; ἀλλὰ γυμνὸς μὲν τῶν φυσικῶν σκεπασμάτων͵ ἄοπλος δέ τις καὶ πένης ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ τῶν πρὸς τὴν χρείαν ἐνδεὴς ἁπάντων ἐπὶ τὸν βίον παράγεται͵ ἐλεεῖσθαι μᾶλλον ἢ μακαρίζεσθαι κατὰ τὸ φαινόμενον ἄξιος͵ οὐ προβολαῖς κεράτων καθωπλισμένος͵ οὐκ ὀνύχων ἀκμαῖς͵ οὐχ ὁπλαῖς ἢ ὀδοῦσιν ἤ τινι κέντρῳ θανατηφόρον ἰὸν ἐκ φύσεως ἔχοντι͵ οἷα δὴ τὰ [141] πολλὰ τῶν ζώων ἐν ἑαυτοῖς πρὸς τὴν τῶν λυπούντων ἄμυναν κέκτηται· οὐ τῇ τῶν τριχῶν περιβολῇ τὸ σῶμα καλύπτεται, καίτοιγε ἴσως τὸν εἰς ἀρχὴν τῶν ἄλλων προτεταγμένον͵ οἰκείοις ὅπλοις ἔδει περιπεφράχθαι παρὰ τῆς φύσεως͵ ὡς ἂν μὴ τῆς παρ' ἑτέρων ἐπικουρίας πρὸς τὴν ἰδίαν ἀσφάλειαν δέοιτο. Νυνὶ δὲ λέων μὲν καὶ σῦς καὶ τίγρις καὶ πάρδαλις καὶ εἴ τι τοιοῦτον ἕτερον͵ ἀρκοῦσαν ἔχει πρὸς σωτηρίαν τὴν ἐκ φύσεως δύναμιν. Καὶ τῷ ταύρῳ μὲν τὸ κέρας καὶ τῷ λαγωῷ τὸ τάχος καὶ τῇ δορκάδι τὸ πήδημα καὶ τὸ κατ' ὀφθαλμὸν ἀσφαλὲς καὶ ἄλλῳ τινὶ ζώῳ τὸ μέγεθος καὶ ἑτέροις ἡ προνομαία καὶ τοῖς πετεινοῖς τὸ πτερὸν καὶ τῇ μελίσσῃ τὸ κέντρον καὶ πᾶσι πάντως ἕν τι εἰς σωτηρίαν παρὰ τῆς φύσεως ἐμπέφυκε, μόνος δὲ πάντων ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῶν μὲν ταχυδρομούντων ἀργότερος͵ τῶν δὲ πολυσαρκούντων βραχύτερος͵ τῶν δὲ τοῖς συμφύτοις ὅπλοις ἠσφαλισμένων εὐαλωτότερος. Καὶ πῶς͵ ἐρεῖ τις͵ ὁ τοιοῦτος τὴν ἀρχὴν τὴν κατὰ πάντων κεκλήρωται;

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