Frank Lloyd Wright and Our Attitude toward Nature

By Grupico, Theresa | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Frank Lloyd Wright and Our Attitude toward Nature


Grupico, Theresa, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Part 1. The Ancient Greeks and the Formation of Western Civilization's Attitude toward Nature

Western Civilization was born with the Ancient Greeks beginning in approximately the eighth century B.C.E. To them the West is indebted for its artistic, literary, and philosophical traditions; for mathematics, geometry, and science; and for basic values such as humanism, individualism, and democracy. The Ancient Greeks not only laid the foundations for our civilization, but also shaped our understanding of what it means to be 'civilized.' Part of this understanding involves the Western world's relationship with nature.

Ancient Greeks' Mastery over Their Environment: City-states and Agricultural Territory

A major characteristic of the Ancient Greek world is the existence of city-states (such as Athens and Sparta). (1) The formation of city-states begins in approximately the eighth century B.C.E., a period which generally marks the end of the Greeks' shift from a nomadic to a pastoral and finally to a more settled agricultural society. (2) Politically, the city-states were small, self-ruling entities. (3) Geographically, the city-states were comprised of urban centers surrounded by agricultural territories. (4)

Greek Literature: Homer

The Western literary tradition largely begins with Homer, whose Iliad and Odyssey are generally believed to date back to the eighth-century B.C.E., and thus the same period that saw the birth of the Greek city-states. (5) The Odyssey records the story of the Greek hero Odysseus' quest, after the Trojan War, to return home to Ithaca, an island between mainland Greece and the West Greek lands of South Italy and Sicily, which the Greeks had already begun to colonize in the eighth century. In Book 9, "New Coasts and Poseidon's Son," believed to be set in Sicily, (6) Odysseus states:

   In the next land we found were Kyklopes (Cyclopses),
   giants, louts, without a law to bless them.
   In ignorance leaving the fruitage of the earth in mystery
   to the immortal gods, they neither plow
   nor sow by hand, nor till the ground,....
   Kyklopes have no muster and no meeting, ...
   but each one dwells in his own mountain cave
   dealing out rough justice to wife and child ...
      (lines 110-120, trans. R. Fitzgerald)

While the cyclopses are of course mythical, this particular description may reveal the Greeks' attitude towards the indigenous Sicilian and Italic tribes they encountered as they established their colonies and set up new city-states. Homer's description of the "other"--as lawless, as not practicing agriculture, as existing outside of a social order--simultaneously and by contrast provides a description of the Greek "self"--as law-abiding, as practicing agriculture, as existing within a social order. Mastering the land, mastering human behavior, and 'coming out of the cave' are all linked. Those who do not do so are "ignorant." Here, Homer has already set forth a dualistic worldview of civilized versus barbarian, (7) whereby being civilized is associated with taming the wild and controlling our physical environment. It is no accident that the Cyclops Polyphemos whom Odysseus encounters is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea and of earthquakes, while Odysseus himself is protected by Athena, goddess of wisdom and of civilization. (8)

While Poseidon is considered one of the Olympian deities along with Athena, this pitting of Athena against Poseidon, present already in Homer, foretells the evolution of Greek religion and thought: away from nature deities and toward more philosophical and abstract understandings of the divine, until, by the time of Plato, and especially by the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the natural and supernatural or spiritual realms would be completely divorced. (9) The dualistic worldview would be reinforced by Judeo-Christian beliefs. The Greeks' attitude of humans' domination over nature would gain support from the Bible, where, in Genesis (1:26), God says, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Frank Lloyd Wright and Our Attitude toward Nature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.