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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 3

It was the slowness and difficult motion of our body that brought the horse to supply our need, and tamed him: it was the nakedness of our body that made necessary our management of sheep, which supplies the deficiency of our nature by its yearly produce of wool: it was the fact that we import from others the supplies for our living which subjected beasts of burden to such service: furthermore, it was the fact that we cannot eat grass like cattle which brought the ox to render service to our life, who makes our living easy for us by his own labour; and because we needed teeth and biting power to subdue some of the other animals by grip of teeth, the dog gave, together with his swiftness, his own jaw to supply our need, becoming like a live sword for man; and there has been discovered by men iron, stronger and more penetrating than prominent horns or sharp claws, not, as those things do with the beasts, always growing naturally with us, but entering into alliance with us for the time, and for the rest abiding by itself: and to compensate for the crocodile's scaly hide, one may make that very hide serve as armour, by putting it on his skin upon occasion: or, failing that, art fashions iron for this purpose too, which, when it has served him for a time for war, leaves the man-at-arms once more free from the burden in time of peace: and the wing of the birds, too, ministers to our life, so that by aid of contrivance we are not left behind even by the speed of wings: for some of them become tame and are of service to those who catch birds, and by their means others are by contrivance subdued to serve our needs:. moreover art contrives to make our arrows feathered, and by means of the bow gives us for our needs the speed of wings: while the fact that our feet are easily hurt and worn in travelling makes necessary the aid which is given by the subject animals: for hence it comes that we fit shoes to our feet.

Τὸ μὲν βραδὺ τοῦ σώματος δυσκίνητον͵ τὸν ἵππον τῇ χρείᾳ προσήγαγέ τε καὶ ἐδαμάσατο. Ἡ δὲ τῆς σαρκὸς γυμνότης ἀναγκαίαν τὴν τῶν προβάτων ἐπιστασίαν ἐποίησεν͵ ἐκ τῆς ἐτησίου τῶν ἐρίων φορᾶς τῆς ἡμετέρας φύσεως ἀναπληροῦσαν τὸ λεῖπον. Τὸ δὲ τὰς ἀφορμὰς ἡμῖν τὰς πρὸς τὸν βίον καὶ ἐξ ἑτέρων εἰσάγεσθαι͵ τὰ ἀχθοφόρα τῶν ζώων ταῖς τοιαύταις ὑπηρεσίαις ὑπέζευξεν. Ἀλλὰ μὴν τὸ μὴ δύνασθαι καθ' ὁμοιότητα τῶν βοσκημάτων ποηφαγεῖν͵ ὑποχείριον τῷ βίῳ τὸν βοῦν ἀπειργάσατο͵ τοῖς ἰδίοις πόνοις τὴν ζωὴν ἡμῖν ἐξευμαρίζοντα. Ἐπεὶ δὲ καὶ ὀδόντων καὶ δήγματος ἦν χρεία πρὸς τὸ καταγωνίζεσθαί τινα τῶν ἄλλων ζώων͵ διὰ τῆς τῶν ὀδόντων βλάβης͵ παρέσχεν ὁ κύων μετὰ τοῦ τάχους τὴν ἰδίαν γένυν τῇ ἡμετέρᾳ χρείᾳ͵ οἷόν τις ἔμψυχος μάχαιρα τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ γενόμενος. Κεράτων δὲ προβολῆς καὶ ὀνύχων ἀκμῆς ἰσχυρότερός τε καὶ τομώτερος ἐπινενόηται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ὁ σίδηρος͵ οὐκ ἀεὶ συμπεφυκὼς ἡμῖν͵ ὥσπερ τοῖς θηρίοις ἐκεῖνα͵ ἀλλ' ἐπὶ καιροῦ συμμαχήσας͵ τὸ λοιπὸν ἐφ' ἑαυτοῦ μένει. Καὶ ἀντὶ τῆς τοῦ κροκοδείλου φωλίδος͵ ἔστι μὲν καὶ αὐτὸν ἐκεῖνον ὅπλον ποιήσασθαι͵ κατὰ καιρὸν τὴν δορὰν περιθέμενον. Εἰ δὲ μή͵ σχηματίζεται καὶ πρὸς τοῦτο παρὰ τῆς τέχνης ὁ σίδηρος͵ ὃς ἐπὶ καιροῦ πρὸς τὸν πόλεμον ὑπηρετήσας͵ πάλιν ἐλεύθερον τοῦ ἄχθους ἐπ' εἰρήνης τὸν ὁπλίτην κατέλιπεν. Ὑπηρετεῖ δὲ τῷ βίῳ καὶ τὸ πτερὸν τῶν ὀρνέων͵ ὡς μηδὲ τοῦ πτηνοῦ τάχους δι' ἐπινοίας [144] ἡμᾶς ἀπολείπεσθαι. Τὰ μὲν γὰρ ἐξ αὐτῶν τιθασσὰ γίνεται καὶ συνεργεῖ τοῖς θηρεύουσι, τὰ δὲ δι' ἐκείνων ταῖς χρείαις ἡμῶν δι' ἐπινοίας ὑπάγεται. Ἀλλὰ καὶ πτερόεντας ἡμῖν τοὺς ὀϊστοὺς ἡ τέχνη δι' ἐπινοίας ποιησαμένη͵ τὸ πτηνὸν τάχος ταῖς ἡμετέραις χρείαις διὰ τοῦ τόξου χαρίζεται. Τὸ δὲ εὐπαθεῖς καὶ εὐτρίπτους ἡμῖν πρὸς τὴν πορείαν εἶναι τὰς βάσεις͵ ἀναγκαίαν ποιεῖ τὴν ἐκ τῶν ὑποχειρίων συνεργίαν. Ἐκεῖθεν γάρ ἐστι τοῖς ποσὶ περιαρμόσαι τὰ πέδιλα.

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