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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

Why Man is Destitute of Natural Weapons and Covering

Patrologia Graeca 44.140-4  * Greek Fonts


Page 2

Well, I think it would not be at all hard to show that what seems to be a deficiency of our nature is a means for our obtaining dominion over the subject creatures. For if man had had such power as to be able to outrun the horse in swiftness, and to have a foot that, from its solidity, could not be worn out, but was strengthened by hoofs or claws of some kind, and to carry upon him horns and stings and claws, he would be, to begin with, a wild-looking and formidable creature, if such things grew with his body: and moreover he would have neglected his rule over the other creatures if he had no need of the co-operation of his subjects; whereas now, the needful services of our life are divided among the individual animals that are under our sway, for this reason-to make our dominion over them necessary.

Ἀλλ' οὐδὲν οἶμαι χαλεπὸν δεῖξαι͵ ὅτι τὸ δοκοῦν ἐπιδεὲς τῆς φύσεως ἡμῶν͵ ἀφορμὴ πρὸς τὸ κρατεῖν τῶν ὑποχειρίων ἐστίν. Εἰ γὰρ οὕτω δυνάμεως εἶχεν ὁ ἄνθρωπος͵ ὡς τῇ μὲν ὠκύτητι παρατρέχειν τὸν ἵππον͵ ἄτριπτον δὲ ὑπὸ στεῤῥότητος ἔχειν τὸν πόδα͵ ὁπλαῖς τισιν ἢ χηλαῖς ἐρειδόμενον͵ κέρατα δὲ καὶ κέντρα καὶ ὄνυχας ἐν ἑαυτῷ φέρειν, πρῶτον μὲν θηριώδης τις ἂν ἦν καὶ δυσάντητος͵ τοιούτων αὐτοῦ τῷ σώματι συμπεφυκότων. Ἔπειτα δὲ παρεῖδεν ἂν τὴν τῶν ἄλλων ἀρχήν͵ οὐδὲν τῆς συνεργίας τῶν ὑποχειρίων δεόμενος. Νυνὶ δὲ τούτου χάριν ἐφ' ἕκαστον τῶν ὑπεζευγμένων ἡμῖν αἱ τοῦ βίου χρεῖαι κατεμερίσθησαν͵ ὡς ἀναγκαίαν ποιεῖν τὴν κατ' ἐκείνων ἀρχήν.

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Cf. St Basil the Great, On the Creation of the World (Hexaemeron)

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