To the Tenth Generation: Homer's Odyssey as Environmental Ethics

Bell, Jason M.
March 2010
Environmental Ethics;Spring2010, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p51
Homer's Odyssey has long served as a touchstone for environmental writers, but is this text itself a work of environmental ethics? Homer portrays, as a major and consistent purpose, the environmentally destructive consequences of hedonism, and the environmentally beneficent consequences of conservation and sustainable agriculture. The evidence of The Odyssey suggests that public critical dialectic about the treatment of animals, soil, and forests was not unknown to the ancient Greek world. Further, The Odyssey can have relevance to modem environmental ethics, especially in Homer's study of the relation between religion (especially its eating rituals) and the health of the natural environment. Finally, Homer teaches that it is not only possible but also worthwhile to code the arguments of environmental ethics in poetic/fictional terms.


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